High winds - and high excitement - for sailors at Chichester

With highs winds gusting to well over 30 knots the day before Chichester Yacht Club’s latest Snowflake races, the day itself dawned with winds in excess of 20 knots.

While some opted for a lie-in, nearly 40 boats still made it out for races five and six.

About an hour before the race, the winds had moderated a little and all the classes were allowed afloat.

Experienced race officer Martin Orton set a simple triangle course allowing a long beat and two broad reaches in the Lake area of Chichester Basin.

In the fast handicap there were seven starters.

In race five, William Warren and Sophie Mackley in a Merlin Rocket got well away from the nearest competition to put in a convincing win on and off the water.

Steve & Sarah Cockerill (Scorpion) were second and Jason Buchanan (RS300) third.

Race six followed a similar pattern with Warren and Mackley again getting a good lead on the water, to gain their fourth consecutive first.

Buchanan was again second but this time Nick and Roger Elliman (RS400) put up a good fight on the water to take third.

In the medium fleet there were 17 starters, with the three Finns fastest on the water.

John Tremlett, the current Finn national champion, showed how to sail a Finn in heavy weather with two convincing wins – making it six in a row – to finish well ahead of the Finns of Ed Thorburn & Mark Harper.

Nick & Biddy Colbourne, as ever superb in their GP14, put in an excellent heavy-weather sail to take second in both races.

This left the Lasers, Laser 2000s and Solos fighting it out for the lower places, with Derek Jackman (Solo) sneaking into third place in race six.

In the slow fleet, 13 boats took to the water, the majority sailed by children, showing remarkable ability and tenacity.

Despite a number of retirements, even those retiring were still doing all they could to get back out on the water.

Sisters Alex and Stephie Orton decided to take their Toppers out for a spin, foregoing their 29er for the day.

Both gave current series leaders, Emsworth’s Paul and Jack Fisk (RS Feva), and second-placed Toby Schofield (Laser 4.7) some serious competition.

In the end Schofield won race five, with the Fisks second. Alex made third just a few seconds ahead of Stephie.

In race six Alex really got into her stride with a good win beating Schofield into second and the Fisks into third.

Races seven and eight are due to be held this Sunday, February 20. There’s an 11am start.