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Fireballs at 2019 Chichester Harbour Race Week

by Chris Turner 26 Aug 21:39 BST 19-23 August 2019

The 2019 edition of Fed Week, as Chichester Harbour Race Week continues to be commonly known, produced wide-ranging winds with racing generally held in glorious sunshine. Mix in plenty of socials and the resultant cocktail produced yet another great regatta in the event's 56-year history.

Tides were late this year meaning leisurely starts and plenty of time to study forecasts which, in the event, were predicted accurately some time ahead. Thus there were no surprises when 25+ knot winds arrived for race 1!

A large proportion of the entire race week fleet opted to sit out the opening day and of those who did sail a significant number failed to finish either through gear failure, tiredness or general trepidation. The Fireballs were no exception but those who started enjoyed spectacular sailing although attrition quickly took its toll such that eventually only three, very well spread out, boats remained on the course with Chris Turner and Chris Powles of the home club taking the gun.

Race 2 was sailed in easier but still quite breezy 12-17 knots that allowed heavier crews to just about hold their own. A case of mistaken identity for the windward mark caused all but two of the earlier-starting fast handicap fleet to score DNF but the Fireballs got away largely unscathed; indeed it transpired it wasn't a bad mistake to make as correcting to the real windward mark produced well-placed roundings! As it was, Martyn Lewis and Fraser Hemmings rounded first but the wrong way only realising their mistake when they had set their kite and were off to the wing mark. However, they quickly reversed track and produced scintillating speed to sail through the fleet and take the win.

As forecast, the wind dropped to around 10 knots for race 3 and the lighter teams really came to the fore. David and Fiona Sayce showed the boat speed we have come to expect but even they couldn't hold off Martyn and Fraser who again sailed superbly to take a second bullet.

The tone of the week was now set and even when well behind Simon Kings and crew, the early leaders, at the first mark of race 4 Martyn & Fraser managed to work their way back to the front and engage in a race-long three-way fight with Simon and Caroline and David and Fiona. Although it was all very close, Martyn & Fraser took their third win and with it the series.

A very gentle breeze meant that the final race was sailed over a much smaller race area than the rest of the week. With a strong flood tide it was fairly clear that whoever made the best call to tack off for the first mark would be very well placed and so it proved. Simon and Caroline opted to sail a different line to the rest of the fleet and seemingly tacked very early but were magnificently rewarded by getting clean away. Just to show they were human, Martyn and Fraser over-stood the mark to such an extent they had to hoist their kite to get back down to it! On this occasion, the gap between them and the leaders was too much to overcome in what was also the shortest race of the week. Simon and Caroline took the gun and with it catapulted themselves up the overall rankings to finish the week ahead of David and Fiona.

If there was a prize for consistency it would have been awarded to Nathan and Jo Rushin who posted a fourth in each of the four races they sailed. Similarly, a long-distance traveller award would have been very well earned by Svenja and Jorg Rennecke who had trailed over from Dusseldorf. They appear to have enjoyed the week even if the vagaries of Chichester Harbour provided an unexpected learning curve!

Overall Results:

PlSail No / Helm & Crew / ClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
115151 Martyn Lewis & Fraser Hemmings ‑ RYA211123
215099 Simon Kings & crew ‑ HISC1153216
315112 David & Fiona Sayce ‑ HISC1122337
415149 Chris Turner & Chris Powles ‑ HISC137579
515103 Nathan & Jo Rushin ‑ HISC11444412
614388 James Cuxson & Neil Arnott – Newhaven & Seaford SC11657516
714887 Turner James & Tom Payne ‑ HISC391181120
814804 Hector & Jeremy Nelson ‑ HISC118610620
914472 Svenja & Jorg Rennecke – YC Graf Spee11786821
1015121 Bryan Thompson & Simon Benson ‑HISC1110991128

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