Chichester Harbour the perfect spot for a sailing spectacular

Chichester Harbour’s biggest annual sailing event returned triumphantly after 2020’s Covid-forced cancellation.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 4:45 pm
Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture: Neil Shawcross

Chichester Harbour’s biggest annual sailing event returned triumphantly after 2020’s Covid-forced cancellation.

More than 380 dinghies completed five days of glorious racing in a regatta where competitors of all ages and levels of expertise returned ashore with broad smiles on their faces.

Inclusiveness is one of the most remarkable features of Chichester Harbour Race Week, and this year was a fine representation of that.

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture: Neil Shawcross

There were youngsters aged from seven upwards crewing and helming, two or even three generations of the same family competing, sailors with disabilities recording excellent results in open-to-all fleets and women taking plenty of top-three race positions against male peers.

As ever, the event – which is organised by the Chichester Harbour Federation, and run by 100-plus volunteers from most of the harbour sailing clubs – was a demonstration of high-level racing ability and a showcase of dinghy design.

Returning in numbers large enough to merit their own start were Fireflies, while big entries too came from much newer designs such as RS Aero 7s and 5s.

Olympic classes Finn and Laser were well represented, alongside some of the very fastest asymmetric dinghies and historic wooden craft.

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture: Neil Shawcross

By far the largest number of competitors came from host club Hayling Island SC, but they were joined by sailors from nine more harbour clubs and a further 55 country-wide, from Yorkshire to Devon.

In all, almost 600 sailors – a quarter of them under 18 – took to the water, racing on three courses with a total of 17 separate starts each day.

Chichester YC had a good regatta, with Charles Porter (Laser standard) winning the popular medium handicap event after a tough tussle decided on Friday’s final race.

Ian Barnett (Solo) could sail only three of five races, but won two and took third overall – the same position Roger Millett secured in the smaller Hadron H2/DZero/Aero 9 event. Other successful entrants from the eastern side of the harbour included Emsworth SC’s Ben Oakley and Barbara Langford, who in the 2000 fleet had very convincing wins in each of the three races they sailed, taking the class prize. Alex and Ned Coles from Emsworth Slipper SC battled for top places in the Tera junior fleet, Alex winning the final race for overall victory.

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture: Neil Shawcross

Among a keen Dell Quay SC contingent, only two top-ten positions were recorded, with Sue Manning ninth in the Laser 4.7 fleet, and Mark Harper tenth Solo. But the club more than pulled its weight, providing two ribs to boost safety cover plus admin support.

Team prizes, senior and junior, went to Hayling Island SC, with Emsworth Slipper runners-up each time. CYC was fourth senior team. Full race results are at chichesterharbourraceweek.sailevent.net