Sailing: Snowflake racing is warming hearts at Chichester

The Winter Snowflake series starts at Chichester Yacht Club this Sunday.
The Winter Snowflake series starts at Chichester Yacht Club this Sunday.

The first races of the Chichester Yacht Club Snowflake open winter series brought a good turnout of more than 40 boats.

Race officers Nick and Roger Elliman laid a P-shaped course with a good beat, followed by an exciting reach in front of the CYC clubhouse, much to the enjoyment of onlookers.

Winds were fast, variable and gusty, starting around force five but building to six and gusting seven in the second race.

Even some of the most experienced sailors were affected by conditions, with many capsizes and retirements keeping the safety boats busy.

The fast fleet comprised a good number of RS200s, plus Merlin Rockets and RS400s and a smattering of other fast boats.

In race one, Steve and Sarah Cockerill (Hill Head) were fastest on the water in their Merlin Rocket but were pushed into second with the RS200 of George Yeoman and Sophie Ormsby (Itchenor) taking first several minutes ahead of next RS200.

Third were Ben and Charlotte Ainsworth in an RS 200 (Itchenor).

In race two, there was a general recall as the tide was beginning to turn. The racing was notable for the lively and close completion between the RS200s, who were flying round the course in the conditions.

The first four positions went to RS200s. First were Edward Fitzgerald and Rosie Sibthorne (HISC) a few seconds ahead of Yeoman and Ormsby in second. Dicken Maclean and Hannah Young (Island Barn SC) were third.

At the end of the races Yeoman and Ormsby were leading the series.

In the medium fleet, in race one, the National 12 of William Warren and Sophie Mackley (Shoreham SC) shot out ahead of the fleet to take a good lead, winning on the water and on handicap.

Luke South (CYC) put in a good time in his Laser to finish second on the water and tied on handicap with Mark Harper (Solo, CYC).

In race two, the conditions led to the second race being shortened because of the many retirements and capsizes.

The Solos dominated the fleet, perhaps because of fewer capsizes, although even some of the Solo fleet retired in the difficult conditions.

Mike Linney and Giles Dixon were notable in their Laser 2000 for several capsizes but for continuing to be the only two-hander to finish.

The first three places went to Solos. First was Nick Peters (HISC), second Ray Collins (Locks SC), third Mark Harper (CYC) - with Peters leading the series at the end of day one.

The slow fleet were all under 16.

In race one the RS Feva of N Townsend and A Fordham put in a fast time on the water, but were beaten into second

place on handicap by Harry Kennedy in a Laser 4.7 (Hill Head SC). Third was Alex Butler in an RS Tera (HISC).

Only a few ventured out in race two in the heavy winds. First was Butler, second Billy Venius-Ozanne and Andre Ozanne in an RS Feva (HISC), with Butler leading overall at the end of the day.

The next Snowflake races take place this Sunday (Jan 13) - first start 10.30am. Spectators welcome.