Setting Sail: Age is no barrier either way at Itchenor

Chris Blevins at Itchenor SC / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Chris Blevins at Itchenor SC / Picture by Kate Shemilt

June and July are the busiest months of the year at Itchenor Sailing Club, writes rear-commodore sailing Chris Blevins.

June started with a highly successful Points Week that saw 60 of our classic keel boats compete. The Chichester Harbour water, sparkling weather and superb race management were some of the ingredients that, mixed with competitive racing, made for one of the best weeks for many years.

The winner in the Sunbeam fleet was John Ford, one of our older sailors at 85, while the XOD top boat had crew members in their early 20s or teenage crew members – such is the appeal of this form of racing for all ages.

We welcomed 20 Mirror dinghies and their crews to our open meeting. Congratulations to visitors from Hill Head and Stokes Bay who took the top two places.

Our 63rd schools championships were a huge success with a record turnout of 270 young sailors. More than half these competed in the Feva event for 13 or 14-year-old sailors, doubling the number from last year.

On the international scene, we are proud that one of our members, Ian Walker, who first came to Itchenor to race at the schools event, is set to win the Volvo Ocean Race in Azzam, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Volvo 65; and Sophie Ainsworth has been selected for the GB team 49erFX class for the Rio Olympics test event in August.

Sophie Ainsworth has been selected for the GB team 49erFX class for the Rio Olympics test event in August.

Ian’s next date will be at Itchenor’s junior fortnight when he has entered with his daughter in the Mirror class.

Beginning at the end of July, junior fortnight is when our wonderful harbourside facilities are used to the full as scores of young sailors and their supporters arrive.
Evening racing is growing with XODs and Swallows on Wednesdays and Sunbeams on Thursdays; attendances of 15 boats plus are a regular feature with a convivial supper for 40 afterwards.

Between now and junior fortnight, we will welcome 420 sailors for a coached open event, the International 14s for an open weekend, the Swallow class for their national championships as well as numerous dinghies for our two day Dinghy Fest.

Finally I’d like to wish our XODs, Sunbeams and Swallows good fortune as they venture to Cowes for the Cowes Classics and Cowes Week regattas.

- CHRIS BLEVINS

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