They may have been enjoying their first fun taste of sail racing action but among them could be a Sir Ben Ainslie or Iain Percy of the future. Almost 30 young sailors made the most of near-perfect conditions in Chichester Harbour as the Christian Youth Enterprises (CYE) Sailing Centre at Cobnor hosted its first West Sussex OnBoard Festival.
OnBoard is the national grassroots initiative from sailing’s national governing body, the RYA, providing low-cost sailing and windsurfing opportunities for local school and youth groups for kids aged eight to 18.
The youngsters, aged nine to 16, have all recently learned to sail through RYA OnBoard at CYE, Bosham SC, Bognor Regis YC and Havant Youth Sail Training Scheme (YSTS). The young rookies split into two groups - one did fun racing while the other did a relay from the beach, then they swapped.
This was the first time an OnBoard Festival has been run in Chichester Harbour and the event was supported by Hampshire-based RS Sailing, who kindly provided three RS Q’Bas for the relay race.
Jake Elsbury, chief instructor for CYE, said: “It was great to see local clubs working in co-operation to put this event on and get local youngsters out having fun on the water together.”
Owen Scott, 16, from Havant, said: “I liked trying the RS Q’bas out and also winning for HYSTS!”
Sam Rowe, RYA sailing development officer for Kent and Sussex, added: “It was glorious sunshine and force two to three all evening. Although strong tide made things a little tricky for all sailors, they coped very well.
“The local OnBoard providers really got behind the idea and put in a lot of time and effort to make it happen. The BBQ afterwards was especially good, bringing sailors, parents and volunteers together to celebrate a great evening on the water. Thank you to CYE for hosting and everyone who volunteered their time on the evening.”
Over a ten-year period, RYA OnBoard aims to introduce a minimum of 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting more than ten per cent of them into regular participants.
For more information about how to get involved with OnBoard in West Sussex, contact Sam Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rya.org.uk or www.ruob.co.uk
A strong fleet of XODs from Itchenor Sailing Club will be competing at Cowes Week.
Having produced the winner of the prestigious Captain’s Cup for the past three years, Itchenor are determined to make it four in a row.
Of the 14-boat team, several of the main contenders have been tuning up in the Solent conditions over the past weeks.
Last year’s winner Catherine, sailed by Steve Lawrence, has scored two fourth-place finishes in series at Southampton and Yarmouth. The crew of Lass, with helm John Tremlett determined to better their fourth place overall last year, won the Southampton regatta and scored a third at Yarmouth and fifth in the Telegraph Bowl held at Cowes.
Phoenix, the Cowes winner in 2011, is leaving her arrival at Cowes until the last minute preferring to tune up in Chichester Harbour. This year she will be helmed by Alastair Shaw, who crewed for his son Andrew in their successful 2011 campaign.
Alastair is no stranger to victory at Cowes having won the Captain’s Cup twice some 40 years ago.
Two other boats to watch are Astralita and Princess Jalina. Astralita, in the hands of Michael Martell, a Cowes winner in 1987, not only won the Itchenor Point Week series but was also placed first in the recent Cowes Classics Week.
David Palmer’s Princess Jalina is showing good form with wins in the Lymington regatta and in the Telegraph Bowl, plus second places at Yarmouth and Southampton.
The team as a whole are attempting to make it a hat trick of wins in the inter-club Phillipson Shield competition.
The annual DQSC harbour handicap race attracted a good entry. However as the five-minute gun sounded a heavy squall blew through, with winds gusting 25 knots. Many boats capsized with only 50 per cent making it past Itchenor.
Leading the fleet was Solo veteran Gordon Barclay, who got off to a screaming start, closely followed by Rob Corfield and Australian crewmate John in the RS400. Behind the leaders were Roger Francis and Karen Price in the Graduate, followed closely by John Purdy in his Solo.
As the fleet approached Deep End, Corfield capsized, allowing Purdy to take advantage - only to lose it again on the next big gybe. Meanwhile Barclay increased his lead and won comfortably, followed by Francis and Price in second place and Purdy third.
Conditions were marginally better on Sunday for the fifth race in the Longmore series. Strong winds and heavy gusts made the two-hour race hard going for the competitors, with a third of the fleet being forced to retire early.
Barclay, in his Solo, took first place once again, followed by Malcolm Buchanan (Solo) in second and Chris Wood (Streaker) coming third.
Conditions were equally challenging for races seven and eight of the junior series, with winds gusting to force five. Confusion about the course meant all competitors were over the line and had to re-start five times before finally setting off in the right direction.
With an especially tough up-wind leg and two hours of sailing, over three laps of a triangle course, the juniors took the decision to retire after completing only one race.
All sailing Toppers, Dominic White took first place, Thomas Bettle second and Charlotte Binning was third.
Also out on the water on Sunday, older junior sailors and newly-qualified dinghy instructors Alex Briggs and Henry Bettle tested out the brand-new DQSC RS Vision, which the boys greatly enjoyed sailing during the Longmore race.
Both Alex and Henry agreed: The new Vision is a pleasure to sail.