Event report 2015 - Int420 & Firefly

Record numbers for Itchenor Sailing Club’s Schools Week Championships

A record 270 young sailors descended on Itchenor Sailing Club for the 63rd National Schools Sailing Championships last week.

On Monday, 162 thirteen and fourteen year old Feva sailors arrived at the club, for the JDX Consulting Schools Championships. They were greeted by what was described by the locals as a vintage Chichester Harbour summer’s day, with changeable weather forecasts, promising a challenge for Peter Taylor and his race management team.

Race one got underway in 12-15 knots of Westerly breeze and a strong flood tide to keep the keen RS Feva’s behind the line. In separate Gold and Silver fleets, racing proved to be extremely tight at the top and bottom of each fleet, with the lead constantly changing. After two laps of the long windward leeward course, the race was eventually won by Henry Chandler and Louis Johnson of Portsmouth Grammar School.

Following a predicted wind shift to the South West, the race area was moved to accommodate the exceptionally large fleet. In a freshening South Westerly breeze, race two got underway with Chandler and Johnson showing some superb tactical nous to control the fleet to secure another win.

As the storm clouds rolled in, the wind picked up. With around 20-25 knots from the South West providing some exhilarating downwind legs for the crews, Harry Jameson and Ben Todd of Hayling College began to assert their dominance, winning race three and beating the black flag in race four to record back to back wins.

Following the day’s racing, all crews returned exhausted to the club for a well-deserved BBQ put on by Itchenor Sailing Club.

Day 2 served up a further change of conditions for the junior sailors to contend with, including light winds and a strong flooding tide. Following a number of general recalls, race 5 got away into a north westerly wind, with Harry Jameson and Ben Todd taking the race win again, while witnessing great resilience from Piers Nicholls and Archie Grant; using their local knowledge to push them all the way to the finish.

Race six got away in similar conditions with a shifty wind, providing challenging snakes-and-ladders style conditions for the sailors. Henry Chandler and Louis Johnson played the shifts and tide extremely well to extend a healthy lead over their rivals, taking race 6 comfortably. Harry Jameson and Ben Todd wrapped up the event with a triumphant win and a solid first place, leaving Henry Chandler and Louis Johnson together with Louis Wright and Jamie Allen to battle it out for second place in the final race of the day.

The race management team did extremely well to get race seven away in a dying breeze following a number of general recalls. Harry Jameson and Ben Todd gave no respite to their opposition, taking a dominant win to complete the event with four wins and three 3rd place finishes, Harry Chandler and Louis Johnson took second from Louis Wright and Jamie Allen who had a tough final race finishing 10th.

In the Silver fleet, racing was equally intense with Hayling College again taking the overall win with Joshua Boniface and Jessica Tame squeezing ahead of Ryan Wilkinson and Rachel Pyke in the final race.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the Feva fleet was replaced by Fireflies and 420s and over a hundred mostly fifteen and sixteen year olds. After Wednesday’s practice day, the senior championships, sponsored by MPI Brokers and Mind The Gap Year Insurance, got under way and it was clear that the Firefly event would be closely contented between the RGS Guildford pair of Patrick Croghan and James Dickinson and Magdalen College School’s Owen Hallett and Primrose Baxter. In the final reckoning the two crews were level on points after ten races and the title decided by the Guildford students’ three first places compared to Magdalen’s two.

The 420 competition was more clear cut with Ben Roe and Ben Childerley from Sherborne School counting seven first places and one second place, out of a total ten races held, to take the trophy in this class.

Charles Hyatt, Commodore at Itchenor Sailing Club commented, “The number of entries and the closeness of the competition in this year’s Schools Championship have demonstrated the depth and strength of sailing in schools. We are delighted to play our part.”