THERE was a thrilling climax to the 61st annual Schools Sailing Championships at Itchenor Sailing Club.
Sailing for the first time in Firefly dinghies, visiting American duo Nathanial Johansson and Natalya Doris came within one point of winning the Richard Fairey Trophy.
The three-day event on Chichester Harbour saw 62 boats in action, representing 23 prominent British schools and one from the States.
After leading the field at the end of the first day’s racing, the Americans were beaten into second place - with 12 points - by the Magdalen team of Sam Jenkins and Owen Hallett on 11 points.
Johansson and Doris were part of a six-strong contingent from Ransom Everglades School in Florida. Their team-mates Alex Swerdlow and Sonora Medina took fifth.
Third were to Magdalen’s Guy Dixon and Joe Gough, fourth Sevenoaks’ Massimo Mazzolim and Nick Yau, and sixth to Campbell Manzini and Alex Smith of Millfield.
Imogen Smith and Amy Swinglehurst of Sevenoaks took the Ladies’ Prize for first all-girl crew, while James Redshaw and Jasper Freeman of Dulwich College won the Nick Prosser Trophy (Mid Fleet Trophy).
The championships also featured International 420s. Parkstone Grammar’s Rosie and Midge Watkins impressed, winning the Gavin Anderson Plate by a five-point margin and collecting the Astral Trophy for the first all-girl crew.
Bournemouth’s Max Moyles and Nathanial Gordon were second, followed by Abby and Harry Gilchrist of Hurstpierpoint and Katie and Isabel Davies of Surbiton High. Just seven points separated the top four boats.
The British Schools Dinghy Racing Association Prize (Mid Fleet Prize) went to Alex Bibby and James Rigby of Rugby School.
Event co-ordinator Charles Hyatt said the championships were a great success despite difficult wind and tide conditions.
“As usual, the competitors had plenty of fun, but at the same time they learnt a lot about themselves and each other – and the importance of making decisions that are both quick and correct,” he said.
For the seventh consecutive year, the championships was supported by Mind The Gap Year (MTGY), an online resource for gap year travellers and young backpackers.
MTGY Managing Director Michael Pettifer, a keen sailor, said: “We saw some very impressive skills this year – definitely the cream of future British sailing.”