Historic fleet ready to sail again in Chichester Harbour

Sunbeam sailors gather at Itchenor
Sunbeam sailors gather at Itchenor

An enthusiastic gathering of the Sunbeam fleet will take place on May 4 and 5, with intensive back-to-back races on Chichester Harbour, competing for the Chisholm Weekend Trophy.

The event is always well-attended as it is the first weekend of two-day racing for this popular classic keelboat.

The Solent Sunbeams

The Solent Sunbeams

The weekend racing event is named after Sir Henry Chisholm, who was a passionate and enthusiastic sailor in the fleet during the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Sir Henry bought Sunbeam V24 Fay in 1957 from a boatyard in Bosham and restored her to racing class condition. He became Class Captain of the Solent Sunbeam fleet in 1964 and held the post for 11 years during which he became a hugely important figure in the revival of the class and the restoration of many of the historic boats we see racing today.

The Chisholm Weekend commemorates the enthusiastic leadership that Sir Henry brought to the class which saw its complete reorganisation and revitalisation.

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During his captaincy, Henry rescued many of the fleet from oblivion, finding hulls in obscure locations and encouraging a significant number of new owners and regular racers into the class. It’s a fitting tribute to this important character that the first weekend of racing is named after him.

At the end of the month, the class will get together for an open series of racing with the winner receiving the Chittagong Cup. The origins of this event date back to the early 1990s when the then class captain, Kirk Webster, presented the cup to the fleet.

Kirk had acquired the silverware from another owner, Kenneth Bailey, whose father had been given the trophy to mark his retirement from the Chittagong Railway in Bangladesh. So, although not originally connected with sailing, the name has become synonymous with this active and hugely competitive classic fleet of keelboats.

* The Solent Sunbeam Chisholm Weekend will take place on May 4 nd 5 and the Chittagong Cup on May 25 and 26, both from Itchenor Sailing Club.

More information on the class and events can be found at www.solentsunbeam.co.uk