Itchenor crews show their class at Cowes Week

Richard Bullock, John Tremlett and Richard Jordan in Lass, winners for Itchenor at Cowes    Picture by Richard Bullock
Richard Bullock, John Tremlett and Richard Jordan in Lass, winners for Itchenor at Cowes Picture by Richard Bullock
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XODs have been racing at Cowes for 90 years. This may conjure up the image of an old, crusty of bunch of sailors and boats.

Nothing could be further from the truth as this year’s competition showed. With a total fleet numbering 80 and an eight-day series, the competition has never been tougher. In the six races that were possible, there were six different winners.

It is in this context that Itchenor Sailing Club sailors’ success should be measured. Seventeen local crews entered the regatta and four took the honours in the first four places.

Defending the prestigious Captain’s Cup they won last year, Richard Bullock, Richard Jordan, Jeremy Lear and helmsman John Tremlett, sailing Lass, put together a series of results that ensured they could not be beaten before the last race was run.

Former champion Alastair Ashford, who now limits his XOD sailing to just a handful of regattas each year because ofs business commitments in Antigua, finished the racing strongly in Foxglove with Rick Neall to snatch second place by two points from another former champion, Andrew Shaw sailing Phoenix.

Completing the successful quartet one point behind was the widely-experienced David Palmer, well supported by Julia Plumstead in Princess Jalina.

The competitiveness of the class was demonstrated by the breadth of experience from regular club sailors to those who have competed at national, international and Olympic level. All ages also enjoy this competition.

Third placed Shaw won the under-25 trophy while fourth-placed Palmer was best over-65 helmsman. The youngest helm was a 15-year-old during the week that Itchenor’s Tony Probert celebrated his 80th birthday.

Lass’s success brings to five the consecutive years that an Itchenor boat has captured the Captain’s Cup. The Phillipson Shield for the most successful club also returned to Itchenor for the fourth year in a row.

Itchenoralso won the new inter-club competition inaugurated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cowes Combined Clubs – the organising body for Cowes Week.

To demonstrate the unique strength of Itchenor and its three keel-boat classes, a team was selected with one boat from each class.

Lass, chosen from the XODs, was complemented by Roger Wickens’ Sunbeam Danny and a Swallow, Gwaihir, of Mike Wigmore, Mark Struckett and Charles Hyatt. This team saw off the challenge of strong line-ups from the Royal Yacht Squadron, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

FELPHAM

NEARLY 50 youngsters joined in fun on the sea at Felpham Sailing Club’s youth regatta.

The event combined training and racing in conditions that varied from gentle sea breezes to strong winds of more than 20 knots.

There were five training groups led by the instructors using a variety of sailing dinghies.

Organisers were very grateful to Felpham Sea Scouts, who loaned one of their safety boats and a couple of dinghies for the regatta.

Training was delivered by a team of qualified volunteer instructors culminating in the award of 85 Royal Yachting Association certificates for competence levels from basic skills up to the advanced skills of seamanship and sailing with spinnakers, as well as certificates for racing skills. The chairman of Felpham Parish Council, Paul English, presented the awards to the training group.

Twenty youngsters took part in eight races over the four days.

The handicap racing was very close with the Cadet Cup being awarded to Jack Miller helming an RS Feva with Lauren Bentley as his crew. They finished on equal points with Ed Gerwat sailing his Laser Radial, the final positions decided on countback.

In the silver fleet, Beth Wilkinson sailed her Topper to top slot, narrowly beating Alex Mayger, also sailing a Topper. Michael Harris, FSC president, presented the racing trophies.

Two special prizes were awarded. The first was donated and presented by Steve Sampson – a special racing bib. It was intended to be used at the 2012 Olympics, but the UK Laser Radial sailor did not achieve bronze so the bib was redundant and Sampson was fortunate enough to be given it as a thank-you for his help at Weymouth in 2012.

He presented it to the best-placed female competitor, Lauren Bentley. The second prize of a wind vane was donated by former commodore Cindy Bloor. This went to the sailor who’d made the most progress in racing, Lucy Gerwat.

The youngsters had a wonderful time learning how to sail and race but it was possible only thanks to a team of more than 65 who gave their time to ensure everything went smoothly.

Commodore Keith Hopper thanked all the adults and young people who had made the regatta a success and presented a thank-you appreciation certificate to all helpers.

The regatta was rounded off with a curry supper and a sigh of relief that the expected storm Bertha arrived only after the event had finished.

DELL QUAY

The annual Dell Quay Sailing Club’s junior week was enjoyed by all in glorious sunshine and favourable winds.

A total of 73 juniors went afloat in all sorts of dinghies, having great fun on and off the water. The week had various highlights including long-distance racing, day sails, watery games on Sam’s Island and the junior regatta.

There were smiles all round with delicious cakes and snacks from the galley, strong teamwork on the beach and a fantastic team of dinghy instructors.

The commodore proved his seaworthiness by surviving the walking-the-plank experience. Everyone is now looking forward to next year and hoping the weather will be just as kind again.

The Fastnet group in particular had a brilliant week of racing in a variety of wind conditions. The long-distance race to Itchenor was particularly memorable because of the fantastic run back to Dell Quay when the winds picked up.

The group held races throughout the week with Tom Bettle in first place overall, Charlotte Binning second and Charlotte Daltry third, all racing in Toppers. Overall the group enjoyed great sailing, some spectacular capsizes and managed to break only one mast.

Extremely gusty wind conditions greeted races three and four of the junior race series. There was a good turnout of juniors for these races, following a week of fun in junior week. Dinghy instructor support was provided by James White.

Polly Maltby marked her first time taking part in junior racing by winning both races, with Melissa Talbot at the helm of their Topper Taz. Charlotte Binning and William Lynas were in good form in their Toppers, both gaining a second and a third.

Races five and six in the series take place this Saturday.