Sailling clubs open doors as Sunbeams prepare to shine

Solent Sunbeams will be out in force on Saturday   Picture by Gayle Palmer
Solent Sunbeams will be out in force on Saturday Picture by Gayle Palmer

PEOPLE across West Sussex can have a go at sailing and windsurfing as the county’s sailing clubs and watersports centres open their doors for national RYA Push the Boat Out this weekend (May 17 and 18).

Whether you’re completely new to the sport or looking to get back on the water after a break, a number of West Sussex clubs are running free open days or discounted taster sessions to encourage people to give sailing - and in some cases windsurfing too - a try for Push The Boat Out.

Felpham SC, Chichester YC, Bognor YC, Arun YC, Arun Youth Aqua Centre and Dell Quay SC are among no fewer than 230 clubs, centres and organisations nationwide taking part.

Booking is essential for some activities and more Push The Boat out events are being registered all the time.

Andy Hooper, RYA regional development officer for the south-east, said: “All our clubs and centres in West Sussex run accessible, affordable and inclusive activities for all, regardless of age, gender, background or experience.

“These events are an incredible opportunity for local people in West Sussex to discover what sailing and sailing clubs are really like and enjoy a fantastic, social outdoor sport where everyday life really does get left on the shore.”

Refreshments will be available and a warm welcome is guaranteed as social activities also take place to give newcomers a real sense of each club.

All you need for any of the open days or ‘have a go’ sessions are a change of clothes, soft-soled shoes and a towel. The clubs/centres will provide what else you need.

RYA Push the Boat Out is part of National Watersports Month. To find your nearest event, and to discover exactly what’s happening and when the fun starts, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/ptbo

ITCHENOR

Three Olympic medallists, along with world champions and class heavyweights who have proved themselves in a range of dinghies and keelboats, are going head to head in an invitational regatta in the one-design Solent Sunbeam class on Saturday (May 17).

Attracting the big names, which include gold medallist Mike MacIntyre, along with Mark Covell and Ossie Stewart, silver and bronze medallists respectively, is testimony to the resurgence of the class as a growing and highly competitive fleet.

The Solent Sunbeam, the first of which appeared in 1923, has, like many established classes, taken on a new life form. Seven brand-new GRP hulls have been built in the past three years, which perform in all ways exactly as the original wooden boat, and for half the price - stirring a new attraction to the class.

Some tough competition can be expected in the interest of maintaining reputations and showing what the Solent Sunbeam is capable of. However, the aim of the day is for the top invited helms and their crew to have an enjoyable day racing in Chichester Harbour, from the fleet’s base at Itchenor Sailing Club, with owners on board as third crew to assist with navigation and to keep clear of the shallows.

Morning racing will be followed by lunch back at the club and an afternoon race followed by tea on the club lawn.

Class representative Roger Wickens said: “With 22 Solent Sunbeams being raced by top-class helms and crew, we hope to raise the profile of our Sunbeam racing from Itchenor. The timing is right for the class to expand. The new GRP hulls offer much improved affordability within a very friendly and competitive class.”

The most recent of the GRP boats, V67 Misty, will be on display at Haines Boatyard in Itchenor to coincide with the invitational regatta.

The class is promoting itself with ongoing vigour to attract new members both into the new GRP and the existing wooden boats, either as full or part owners. New crew including younger crew will always be welcome.

Wickens added: “The Solent Sunbeam’s classic good looks and exceptional sailing qualities put it into a class of its own. Add to this pleasure the excitement of racing two ton yachts in frequent close quarter tacking duels along the shorelines of Chichester Harbour, and arguably we enjoy the best keelboat racing in the country every time we venture out.”

DELL QUAY

Sunny weather, with a steady force-three breeze, provided ideal conditions for Dell Quay’s bank-holiday weekend racing.

Experienced club racer Richard Ede, despite not having raced since last September and still getting used to his new Solo, managed to take first-place wins in every race over the weekend.

For the Early Helm series on Saturday, race five had close racing at the front of the fleet between Chris West (Laser Radial), Ann and Jim Norfolk (2000) and Ede (Solo), with John Purdy (Solo) not far behind. Unable to keep up with Ede, the Norfolks finished second and West third.

In race six, West and Ede again had a close race at the front of the fleet, but were behind Andy Gray (Finn) who had established a good lead at the start. At the finish Ede pushed Gray into second place with West third again.

On Sunday the bank-holiday mini-series got under way, with a committee boat start in the centre of the course. All races were dominated by the Solos, with Ede keeping well clear of the incoming tide and making effective use of windshifts. The competing boats stayed quite close but on each lap Ede pulled away to finish first each time.

In race one, Ken Baker (Solo) took second ahead of Martyn Jones (Laser Radial), with Jones and Baker swapping places in race two.

In race three, Gordon Barclay (Solo) came second with Jean and Liz Sagues (Lymington Scow) third. The overall result for the series was Ede first, Baker second and Jones third.