West Sussex School and Youth Sailing Association Regatta 
Difficult conditions for West Sussex young sailors

Oliva Winther & Hattie Culver enjoy the conditions

There was an entry of over a hundred boats from across West Sussex at the West Sussex School and Youth Sailing Association Regatta at Chichester Yacht Club on September 17th and 18th despite a discouraging weather forecast. On Saturday there was a strong south-westerly blowing, and while the experts coped well, the younger and less experienced found the conditions testing.

In Race 1 the Fast Handicap class got away neatly, but the Topper Class start had to be delayed because so many boats were late getting to the line. This inevitably delayed the Slow Handicap Start. The Fast Fleet were given a long beat and then a trapezoid course. A good many of the back markers came to grief at the gybe mark - mostly because they had not got their kicking-straps tight enough and got into the fatal "death roll." On Day 1 the Fast Fleet was dominated by Ben Crystall in a Laser, keeping well ahead to take first in both races. The Lasers of James Mapley and Eric Sharrad gave chase but from some way behind with James second and Eric third. In Race 2 Eric Sharrad managed to get a little closer to Ben. This time Eric took second in a close race with Stu Denyer also in a Laser taking third.

Ben Crystall gets a good start

The Topper & Slow Fleets were sent round a triangle, with a shorter beat, but at the same mark there was a good deal of carnage! By the time two rounds had been completed the fleets were very spread out, and Race Officer wisely decided to bring all the boats ashore to try and sort out the rigging problems with the coaches and to limit the entry to those who had actually finished the first set of races. (He wasn't completely successful in this - some of the bolder spirits decided nonetheless to try again to correct a failure in the first race - and fell in again!).

The Slow fleet was dominated on Day 1 by the home club pairing of Olivia Winther and Hattie Culver sailing their RS Feva to two firsts. They were particularly impressive down one three sail reach with ¼ of the hull clear of the water! Abi Bentley & Jake-Aldous Hobbs also in a Feva gave chase in Race1 and managed a second. Charlie Elliott in his Optimist kept his cool in the windy conditions and a fifth in Race 1 was followed by a second in Race 2. Hamish Scott in a Pico put in a couple of good times taking third in both races.

Action from the Slow Fleet

In the Topper Fleet the battle lines were set between the local clubs of Chichester & Dell Quay! In Race 1 Ben Thompson, Elliott Williams and Beckie Manning took the first 3 places. In Race 2 Henry Bettle managed to get the best out of the tricky conditions to take first with Beckie Manning second and Ben Thompson third.

After two races, with the ebb-tide setting in, the organisers were content to lose one race out of the intended programme, and to hope for better things next day.

Sadly, there were one or two injuries to youngsters, and two needed brief hospital treatment, but they turned up next day, still keen to spectate, but not quite fit enough to compete!

Unfortunately, Sunday produced further difficulty due to no wind. For almost 1 ½ hours the competitors sat in their boats round the Committee Boat while the rain fell steadily upon them! The sailors were very patient, only a few got bored and hitched a tow back to the shore.

Eventually the wind came in quite moderately, and racing could begin. The tide had turned by this time, so only a single race could be completed, with very heavy clouds, and distant thunder, threatening some sort of a storm. This did not materialise, although there was very heavy rain as the sailors finished and came ashore ready to pack up for the journey home.

In Race 3 in the Fast Fleet the top 3 Lasers had a close race in the tricky conditions. Ben Crystall again managed to keep ahead to take first. The Lasers of Stu Denyer & Eric Sharrad had a close race - this time Stu finished 3 seconds ahead of Eric.

In the final Topper race, Ben Thompson made the best of the light conditions take first with Beckie Manning second and Josh Wilkinson third.

In the Slow Fleet Charlie Elliott kept his Oppie going in the light winds, to take first on handicap, with Felix Eyers & Lily Kitchener (RS Feva) second, while Alexander Lee (Laser 4.7) took third. This had a significant impact on the final results.

The team trophy went to Chichester Yacht Club.

Despite the disappointing conditions, the Regatta, held at Chichester for the second year running, was judged a success, and the Sailing Association is clearly going from strength to strength. This writer heard from several parents how delighted they were to find it possible for their youngsters to take up the sport through the WSS&YSA.

Overall Results:

1st Ben Thompson (Chichester YC)
2nd Beckie Manning (Dell Quay SC)
3rd Elliott Williams (Chichester YC)
4th Henry Bettle (Dell Quay SC)
5th Charlotte Reading (Chichester YC)

Fast Fleet
1st Ben Chrystall, Laser (Dell Quay SC)
2nd Eric Sharrad, Laser (Felpham SC)
3rd James Mapley, Laser (Felpham SC)
4th Stu Denyer, Laser (Dell Quay SC)
5th Ryan Breach & Jack Cullen, RS200 (Felpham SC)

Slow Fleet
1st Charlie Elliott, Optimist (Chichester YC)
2nd Olivia Winther & Hattie Culver, RS Feva (Chichester YC)
3rd, Alexander Lee, Laser 4.7 (Pagham YC)
4th Abi Bentley & Jake Aldous-Hobbs, RS Feva (Felpham SC)
5th Hamish Scott, Pico (Chichester YC)

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