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Bosham Sailing Club Classic Boat Revival

by Dougal Henshall 14 Sep 2016 05:59 PDT 10-11 September 2016
Tufnol blocks, a drum kicker and wooden boom; Michael Brigg ensured that his 1967 International Canoe followed the classic ethos as it was sailed exactly as it would have would have been back then during the Bosham Classic Boat Revival © David Henshall

For this, the sixth running of Bosham Sailing Club's Classic Boat Revival, the signs running up to the weekend were not good. Bosham, who have worked hard to develop this 'Revival' weekend into the premier classic small boat event in the UK, found themselves at the wrong end of some fixture congestion and a forecast that was distinctly un-inviting, at least for the Saturday. As locals and visitors started to arrive at the club, even the full English breakfast could do little to raise enthusiasm for going afloat. The weather front that had been forecast to bring a band of wind and rain had arrived on cue, bringing autumnal heavy rain and some unpleasant, blustery strong winds. Yet despite the prospect of conditions that were far from the norm for taking some seriously old ladies afloat, there were few who didn't venture out. Sadly, the conditions would take their toll of some of the entries, with one helm reporting that he had 'sprung a leak'. On coming ashore the sight of the hog some 3 inches clear of the hull skin suggested that 'a leak' was something of an understatement.

The Slow Handicap fleet would enjoy some shelter further up into the more protected reaches of Chichester Harbour, but the Fast and Medium fleets had to face a beat into the teeth of some really testing conditions. As one helm was heard to say, seeing a Yachting World Dayboat planing was a surprise; seeing a Devon Yawl planing was more of a shock to the system! Yet despite the age of some of the boats and the conditions afloat, the competition remained fierce, a great reminder that these classics may look like museum exhibits, but first and foremost they are race boats. With the rescue boats being kept busy, the Race Team wisely called it a day after two races, bringing a fleet of very tired sailors back to the Club, where after drying out they were greeted by scrumptious and filling hot food and soothing jazz.

In a total contrast, Sunday was the sort of day that only this most picturesque part of West Sussex can deliver. The sun shone strongly (for the second week in September), the skies were blue and the gentle breeze built through the day to give conditions that truly fulfilled the description of 'champagne sailing'. Slick Race Management by the team from Bosham SC saw the races run smoothly and without delay, allowing the lost heat from the previous day to be run. Little wonder that competitors were heard to be talking about the day being "one of the best that they could remember". After a full day afloat it was back to the Clubhouse on Bosham Quay for the now famous afternoon tea, complete with an amazing selection of delicious cakes.

With the boats back ashore, the other serious task of determining the winner of the prestigious Concours d'Elegance could commence. With each passing year the standard of the restorations on display gets ever higher, though this year there was almost a 'step function' in the quality of the boats entering. It was sad that the beautiful Flying 15 didn't go afloat, as this would have been a very strong challenger. As it was, it would have had to take its place behind the simply stunning 1934 Fox Frostbite dinghy, complete with bamboo spars and period cotton sails. Sadly this amazing craft did not go afloat and thus was in-eligible for the top award and instead had to be content with the praise that was heaped upon it. In the end the runner up for the award was Paul Sheldrick's beautifully presented Dayboat, but the top award would go, for the first time, to a Bosham boat. Stephen Tomlinson's stunning Fairey Jollyboat hadn't just impressed on the Sunday but had survived the worst of Saturday as well and was a worthy winner.

Proceedings were brought to a finale with a well-attended prize giving in the afternoon sunshine. With the continuing generous sponsorship from Chichester Surveyors and Estate Agents Stride&Son, Haines Boatyard and Pussers Rum, Bosham Sailing Club's Classic Boat Revival has become 'the' showcase for not only the best of beautiful boats but for the charm and hospitality of the Bosham club itself. There is good news in that the club are already talking of how the 2017 event will be even better (if that is possible) making this a 'do not miss' date for next year's diary..

Overall Results:

Fast fleet
1st. National 18 225, R. Watney, P.Mirams, M.Watney
2nd. National 18 368, B Hoolahan, T. Reynolds
3rd. National 18 316, M Gray, G.Storton, K Chaple

Medium Fleet
1st. Devon Yawl 168, B. Davis, C. Tavner
2nd. Devon Yawl 53, W. King, R. Kershaw
3rd. Firefly 2319, W. Henderson, M. Henderson

Slow Fleet
1st. Aldeburgh Lapwing 18, J.Fildes, C. Fildes
2nd. Tideway B 220, P. Shaw
3rd. Kittiwake 14, H. Mackenzie-Wilson, U.Wilson, R.Wilson

Fairey Jollyboat 83, S. Tomlinson

Young Helm Award
Tilly Mattich (Aldeburgh YC)

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