There’s only a couple of weeks to go to the first starting gun of the biggest, most spectacular annual sailing event on Chichester Harbour – and entries have already topped 100 dinghies.
Chichester Harbour Race Week – until 2015 known as Fed Week – runs from August 15 to 19, with racing on the broad stretch of water close to the harbour mouth.
Great vantage points for spectators are East Head or Sandy Point on Hayling Island, beside event host Hayling Island Sailing Club.
Some 350-plus dinghies are expected, racing on three separate courses set according to the speed of competing boats. Starts for 17 separate classes already planned and there is potential for more - any additional class with at least ten full-week entries by July 31 can request its own start.
There are strong fleets building in many of the popular one-design classes, particularly Finns, and in the medium and fast handicap events. Enthusiastic support has come from dinghy sailors spread as far as Cornwall and Yorkshire, as well as from clubs nearer the harbour and within it.
As ever, the event will showcase all the best of dinghy design, including newcomers. This year there will be a start for Devoti Zeros/RS Aero 9s, and another for Scows, Tideways and small classics.
Entry is possible for single days or the full five-day event, and there are reduced rates for juniors. With tide times meaning morning starts this year, competitors would be well advised to arrive at HISC on the afternoon of Sunday, August 14, enter then (or earlier, on line until midnight on the Saturday evening), set up their boats and avoid the Monday morning queue.
Running the event – providing the committee boat teams, safety cover and shore organisation – will be more than 100 volunteers from members of the Chichester Harbour Federation, which groups all the sailing clubs and other water-based interests. A bonus this year is a bigger and better social programme – including a Rio-themed beach party and a ‘how to win Race Week workshop’ led by Harbour racing experts Roger Palmer and Keith Walker – to enhance the regatta atmosphere.
It could well prove a vintage Race Week, the race officers for the three series predict.
“What makes racing in Race Week unique and special is the beautiful Chichester Harbour itself,” says Greg Wells, RO for the fastest dinghies. “Not only is it such a beautiful place but it also throws up many wind and tidal challenges for the competitors.”
Mark Darling, who heads the committee boat team for medium-speed starts, believes the week is special because its long heritage has evolved to include both modern and traditional classes and to embrace the latest race organisation technology.
Ian Grant, in charge of the juniors and slower boats, added: “The ethos of our racing will be to run good races for all ages of competitors.”
And principal race officer Robert Macdonald notes that despite how much the event has developed over more than 50 years, ‘what hasn’t changed is the camaraderie of competitors and race team alike both on and off the water, enjoying the challenges of harbour racing and afterwards catching up in the bar with friends’.
Read all about the event at http://chichesterharbourraceweek.sailevent.net
In a lovely force three, a keen bunch of sailors headed to Chichester YC for races two and three of the summer series. Race office Chris Grosscurth set a simple triangle course for the two races, changing the course slightly for the second race to get a better run in the slightly shifting wind.
In the fast/modern fleet while Phil Allen led on the water in his International Canoe. Roger Clare and Helen Mayors in the RS400 won race three with Helen & Stephen Green (2000) second.
Andy Conway (RS100) won race two, with Phil Raby (Vareo) second, closely followed by Mark Green also in a Vareo.
In the medium/classic fleet Nick and Biddy Colbourne took two first places to lead the series, with Lucy Boreham (Europe) and Tim Boon (Laser Radial) gaining a second and third-place each.
The single boat in the slow fleet was the Miracle of Meryl Deane and Jo Dipple on its first race outing.
* The Chichester Yacht Club Dinghy Week starts with a Pimms party and early registration on Monday, August 1 (6pm).
Sailing takes place from August 2 to 6. It is a relaxed week of racing, casual sailing and socialising. All sailors are welcome to join in this open meeting with a focus on families and young sailors.
The 2016 Dinghy Week is being held from Tuesday, August 2 to Saturday 6.
The main race series has two races a day. Racing is handicapped with separate fleet races if numbers suffice.
All fleets are open to all ages. On the final day, a pursuit race will be held for adults and a turbo regatta organised for juniors. Racing is run by CYC members.
For youngsters new to racing there is a start racing fun fleet. This is for juniors who have started sailing, but are not experienced enough to join the main races. Running alongside all this is a Youth Learn to Sail course.
Dinghy Week sailing will be followed by a varied social programme during the week.
Races three and four of the Dell Quay Breakfast Breeze series experienced very variable winds. Race officer Gideon Ewers had laid two marks across the harbour to give a decent windward beat which entailed a running start from the Quay.
The RS400 of Peter King and Jamie Prescott led from the first mark on the water for both races, finishing well clear of the rest of the fleet, but when the handicaps were applied moved to the back.
David Maltby, sailing his camouflaged Solo, has found form and led the Solos home but Simon and Linda Bell in the Miracle came out on top for the first race, leaving Maltby second and Fred Hilgers (Solo) third.
With the early high tide and the water level dropping, the second race was shortened to one lap – allowing Maltby to take first place with Hilgers second and Andrew Buchanan (Finn) third.
The harbour general handicap race took place the following day. The race officer set a course down the harbour as far as the Park mark.
Mike Fitzgerald and Tim Dormer (2000) took an early lead, followed by John Purdy (Solo) and Chris West in his full Laser rig.
Purdy managed to keep West at bay until Westlands mark, where West began his chase on the 2000. By Cobnor Point two more Solos had joined the challenge with Ken Baker leading Dave Swift to challenge Purdy.
At Park, Fitzgerald and Dormer rounded first followed by West, Baker, Purdy, Swift and all the rest of the fleet. Downwind, the 2000 made good use of its gennaker while Purdy edged past Baker. Meanwhile West took the lead from Fitzgerald and Dormer and was first on the water over the finish line.
However on corrected handicap the Solos took the honours with Purdy winning the Bransbury Williams trophy, closely followed by Baker and Swift.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!