CHICHESTER is the base for International Shrimpers Week, which starts today (June 7) and will see sailors from all over the UK and Europe gather.
The Shrimper Owners’ Association estimates around 50 of the boats will be heading this way for their 2013 event.
Trevor Thomas, the SOA’s honorary secretary, is running the event with help from the Chichester and Solent members.
After arriving at Chichester Marina, they’ll have a briefing supper this evening before heading off on their travels around the south and the Isle of Wight.
The weekend will see them sail to Cowes and Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight then go to Lymington.
On Monday, they will stage two races then move on to Yarmouth and Hurst Castle.
The next day, Beaulieu and Portsmouth are on their itinerary before a trip to Southampton and the Hamble on Wednesday.
Thursday’s destinations are Gosport and Portsmouth before next Friday’s return to Chichester Marina and an exploration of Chichester Harbour.
Mike Hunter, an organiser for the group, said: “It’s definitely a community event. A lot of people are intrigued by this flotilla of boats coming in when we visit places like Beaulieu, where it might be a little quieter.
“It’s quite a sight – a lot of these boats are really colourful.”
Held annually, there’s usually an extensive waiting list for the event.
Previous weeks having taken place in Holland, Falmouth and Scotland with the 2014 week scheduled to be based in St Malo, France.
The Bembridge keelboat fleets of Redwings (11 boats) and Bembridge One Designs (six boats) set out early to cross the main channel ahead of the main Round The Island fleets and headed north, via Winner buoy, for Chichester Harbour.
Then they had the long sail up-harbour to Itchenor Sailing Club, where they were enthusiastically welcomed and rafted up on the visitors pontoons.
They were fed, briefed and had a change-around of crews for the afternoon race. All the Bembridge boats had an Itchenor navigator aboard and some Itchenor keelboats had Bembridge spare crews too.
Unlike the Itchenor classes of Solent Sunbeams, Swallows and XODs, the Bembridge racers do not fly spinnakers so this was a new experience for their crews, which they seemed to like.
The race officer set a good windward first leg for each fleet and then a tour of the Harbour from Pilsey Island to nearly Hayling, up towards Emsworth and back to East Head and home.!
A few boats met the ground but with an incoming tide had no problems recovering. Tea was welcomed and lots of chatting and relaxing took place, all in glorious sunshine.
An evening dinner was packed with 121 people enjoying drinks outside and a gorgeous meal followed by prizegiving.
Two oil paintings had been created to celebrate Bembridge’s visit and the Solent Sunbeams’ 90th anniversary year for the occasion by John Ford, the Sunbeam commodore, and were presented to Harlequin, Redwing 18 and BOD 4.
Ford was the minder on board Harlequin, the most prominent boat on their painting!
The paintings will be raced for each time those classes visit Itchenor in the future.
Next day, the two Swallows, 11 Sunbeams and XODs had two superb races each.
Thanks went to all those who hosted visitors, helped welcome and organise berthing and showed folk where to find things.
Saturday saw the first of the Dell Quay Longmore series with 13 boats on the start line.
The wind was a good force three to four and there was glorious sunshine - perfect champagne conditions. However, as the fleet wound its way down harbour the wind died for a while, leaving many struggling.
Bill Dawber in his Solo managed to avoid the holes in the breeze and overtook the 2000 of Anne and Jim Norfolk and the RS400 of Rob Corfield and Graham Andrews. The first three places remained unchanged with Dawber retaining his lead to the finish over the theoretically-faster boats.
After the handicap calculations were applied the first two were the same with Jean and Liz Sagues third in their Lymington Scow.
Fine conditions continued on Sunday, with slightly lighter winds for the second of the DQSC evening race series with 14 boats taking to the water.
Lulls in the breeze called for some skilful boat handling, allowing some trailing boats to catch up. The Solos, led by Bill Dawber, dominated the racing, with five finishing in the top half.
Dawber finished first, followed closely by Richard Ede (Solo), with the Norfolks third in their 2000.
A happy fleet of four dinghies and a windsurfer took to the water for the second DQSC dinghy cruise to East Head.
Alex Wilburn, six, tried windsurfing with a mini-rig - to the entertainment of those on the beach.
The sixth and seventh races of the Lady Todd series were held in a light breeze and sunshine and race officer Ian Payne set a simple course in Chichester Lake.
In race six, the fast fleet got a good start with Jason and Sonia Kirk taking an early lead in their RS400 and staying well ahead of the chasing fleet. Second were Andy and Richard Clare (RS400), third Helen and Mark Green (2000).
In the medium/classic fleet, while Charlie Porter got a good lead on the water in his Laser, Mark Harper in his Solo once again won on handicap with Porter second and Ras Turner (Solo) third.
The small slow fleet was led by Hannah Thompson in her Topper throughout with Sam Reading second.
In race seven, in the fast/modern fleet, the Kirks finished just behind the Clares with the Greens third, well ahead of the chasing pack of 2000s.
In the classic/modern fleet, race seven was shortened because of the light breeze and average laps were used. First was Harper, ahead of Porter and Richard Smale (Streaker), who was third.
In the slow fleet, Thompson won, Reading was second and Nick Attree third – all in Toppers.
There was a large turnout for the Halfway up the Creek race. One or two sailors got a bit lost but had a good day’s sailing regardless. First were Nick and Biddy Colbourne (GP14), second was Ian Payne (Laser), third Charlie Porter (Laser).
The next day, a race was staged in aid of the RNLI, with contributions from all competitors into the CYC lifeboat box.
The fast fleet was dominated by the single-handed boats, but those in double-handers had good fun racing in a good if variable breeze, and occasional sunshine.
Andy Palmer-Felgate dominated the fast fleet in his Laser to win with three first places. Mark Harper (Solo) was second and Derek Jackman third, also in a Solo.
In the slow fleet, Charlie Elliott in his Optimist had a great day’s sailing, beating Ian and Zoe Barnett into second place by winning every race.