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Classic & Vintage 14 POW Event at Itchenor Sailing Club

by James Vaughan 18 Jul 2023 16:03 BST 15-16 July 2023
Start of race 2 in the Classic and Vintage POW event at Itchenor © HPG media / 14 Association

When it comes to organising an event, you can influence most things in preparation, but one that you can't is the wind! So, when in the preceding week, the weather gods decided to predict a mini gale lasting the length of the entire Classic and Vintage event, it didn't look good!

However, whilst the first two days were completely blown off, we eventually got afloat on day 3 and the subsequent racing was excellent. The conditions on the water remained feisty to say the least for these old ladies (the boats... not the sailors), with a 15-18knt breeze which then accelerated upwards towards the end of the second race and subsequently prevented a third, catch-up race from being held.

With 11 boats entered for the event, some crews had understandably hesitated travelling long distances due to the windy forecast. But on the last planned day of the event, 6 boats, 3 classics and 3 vintage, battled it through to the start line off East Head and the race team set us off on a sausage, triangle course around the western edge of the Chichester channel. The first race saw Lyndon Beasley and Ian Marshall, sailing Aquavit K1048, establish a good lead in the Classics with Paul and Karen Armitage sailing Sayonara K366, doing the same for the Vintage boats. But despite the conditions, the fleet was bunched and both fleets enjoyed some healthy jockeying for their position on the results table.

The second race, nominated as the POW event, saw an initial lull in the weather just before the start, but that was soon to be seen as temporary respite with the wind rapidly strengthening thereon in. Lyndon and Ian again took the lead from James Vaughan and Alastair Wilson, sailing SeaWitch K935, but at the leeward mark on the first sausage, they unluckily took a significant swim on the gybe mark. Just behind them James and Alastair, chastened by Aquavit swimming lesson, avoided the same fate by opting for the safer tacking option round the mark and went onto take the lead and won the Prince of Wales Cup race. They were followed by Andy and Maureen Bates, who had travelled thousands of miles from Honolulu and were sailing Sea Dragon 1156.

During the race, team Knight, sailing Daring built in 1929 dived into, rather than through a wave and sadly the boat was swamped. For a moment the situation was significantly unsettling to say the least! However, quick and calm thinking by father and son together with the rescue boat team ensured everyone was safe and Daring survived intact following her ordeal.

Overall, it was quite remarkable seeing this amazing fleet of vintage boats hold their own in some very testing conditions. Each crew returned to shore with a look of relief but clearly having enjoyed an incredible and memorable experience that they would take home with them and remember in those dark winter days. It is a testament to the original build quality and some significant investment and skill by subsequent owners, that these boats are all still able to not only sail, but also race in these gusty conditions.

The lovely picture of Edward Allen and Bertie Wykeham (the grandson of the original owner) sailing Whirlwind K330 is a good example of the day (with Daring ahead around the windward mark). Edward also showed us all how to operate a 'just in time' mentality as the boat was unrigged just before the briefing, but arrived promptly at the line and took 2nd place overall for the Vintage fleet. Paul and Karen sailing Sayonara K366, kindly loaned by Nigel Garland were first in the Vintage fleet and team Knight, who sensibly and very effectively sported a reef in the first race, ended up in 3rd after their unfortunate dunking.

K4, Laura Grebe of Hampton, 101 years old and owned by Anthony Wheaton also set out for the race, but sensibly decided that discretion was more important than valour and returned to shore before the start. Here, along with the others, including Imp K170, she continued impressing those many spectators and old fourteeners on the shore who marvelled at how the class had developed and evolved since these early boats like K4, through the Uffa Fox and Morgan Giles era, then Bruce Kirby, Chris Benedict and many others before today's radically different racing machines. But as the photos clearly demonstrate, 14s really are forever!

Thank you to the Racing team, the Itchenor team and, of course, the class who put on a fantastic event and made us all feel very welcome. And, whilst restricted to one day's sailing, without any doubt, everyone enjoyed the socialising with new and old friends, being part of such a special event and drinking and eating far too much.

To those who were unable to make the event, we really missed you!! But hope to see you at Blakeney in September and then Trent Valley in October. Following that it will be time to plan in some events for 2024 which will include Rickmansworth, Blakeney, Trent Valley + hopefully another long POW weekend (currently scheduled to be the first or second weekend of June) and also a weekend at Grafham, the home of Daring, coming back onto the list.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameClassSail NoHelmCrewR1R2 (Old Boat POW)Pts
1stSeawitchClassic935James VaughanAlastair Wilson213
2ndAquavitClassic1048Lyndon BeasleyIan Marsmae134
3rdSea DragonVintage1156Andrew BatesAndrew Bates325
4thSayonaraVintage366Paul ArmitageKaren Armitage448
5thWhirlwindVintage330Edward AllenBertie Wykeham6511
6thDaringVintage201Jonathan KnightDavid Knight5RET12

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