Meeting 20th and 21st May. Report by Brian Staite
This was the 3rd Optimist Open meeting in the 2017 IOCA (UK) Southern Traveller Series sponsored by Rooster®.
With the tide ebbing directly out of Chichester Harbour straight into the Southerly wind, the 55 Optimist sailors could see the choppy water on the race course from the beach where they were assembled. Soon they were to determine that what they could see wasn’t the half of it and once on the race course it was clear that Hayling Bay was going to provide a real challenge for the scheduled 3 races on day 1.
PRO Tim Dickinson soon had racing underway and the top end of the fleet, many of whom recently qualified for World and European Championship Teams, revelled in the conditions. The younger sailors found the steep waves tricky to manage and the rescue fleet had numerous early customers. Race 1 went to local sailor Finley Dickinson.
Race 2 started soon after and with less water depth and slightly more breeze, the waves had increased. If the upwind legs were tricky, it was the downwind legs that were the real test with fantastic surfing conditions for those with the right technique, but serious wipe-out opportunity for others. James Foster mastered the conditions and won race 2. He also finished off the day with another win in race 3 which was the windiest of the day. With the tide at its lowest level the waves were now so steep that some were turning into proper white water – often when a sailor was already at max speed on the face of it. Many of the top sailors found themselves wiping out and once ashore there were plenty of excited stories being told by sailors and Rescue crews alike.
Sunday dawned brighter and calmer much to the relief of many. The first race of the day was led from start to finish by Toby Schonrock, back on the water after snapping his sprit on day 1. The clouds over the South Downs were building nicely and the breeze was obediently increasing. It had all the signs of a fantastic day of sailing and Race 2 was mastered by Junior sailor Henry Heathcote.
For the 3rd and final race of the day perfection had set in across the racecourse. 12 knots of breeze and bright sunshine made for classic ‘Champagne sailing at Hayling’ conditions – does sailing get any better than this? It was recently crowned Inland Champion, William Pank that took this race but it was the positions just behind him that would be the deciding factor for overall victory.
In the end, equal points score for 1st and 2nd place had to be decided on countback and so it was James Foster that took the overall title. Many thanks to the organisers at HISC for such a great sailing event and also thanks go to Rooster® for the excellent prizes.
Pictures courtesy of Rosie Berry and Brian Staite