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International 14 Century Cup at Itchenor Sailing Club

by Charlie Duchesne & Mark Nicholson 6 Jul 09:18 PDT
International 14 Century Cup at Itchenor - Fitzgerald and Grant making a break after the first weather mark © Luke Boughton

Saturday 22nd June, Chichester harbour with gloriously sunny conditions and a light 8-10 knots from the east were near perfect conditions for the 2019 Century Cup. Thirteen International 14s all crewed by teams with a combined age in excess of 100 years lined up under the watchful eye of Roddy Bridge.

With a strong incoming tide, the conditions favoured getting onto port early after the start and those that did so from the Pin end were rewarded with an early lane to the windward mark. Fitzgerald/Grant were the first to the top mark followed closely by the Hawaiian/Italian exotica of Bates/Saccani and Pattison/Turner. The next leg to Astra, a close spinnaker reach on port generated some interesting conditions as the prevailing and sea breezes fought each other and a few lucky boats caught a ride in comparatively strong lines of easterly breeze while others nearby were forced to drop kites and beat in a weak south-westerly.

McDanell/Kennard were one such lucky team and were able to power over the top of a flogging Fitzgerald/Grand with Bates/Saccani in hot pursuit until an aggressive luffing move by Fitzgerald/Grant almost putting the Hawaiian/Italian partnership in the tide. This gave Fitzgerald/Grant a clear line to the next mark in the lead. Further back racing was very close, and at one point the brand new Zog sailed by Massey/Turner had its tail singed by the Blue Fire of McDanell/Kennard causing a loss of control by the four-times world champion and a subsequent capsize.

A short beat to Ellanore followed and with the wind swinging to the left, conditions favoured the tail enders which closed the fleet together again. The bear away to Mill Rythe gave crews another chance to hoist kites but with the waters of Chichester harbour remarkably clear the sands of the Stocker bank soon prompted all the crews to drop and head for deeper safer water. This race was going to test the reserves of the many sexagenarian and septuagenarian crews.

Once around Mill Rythe the race back to East Head would be a close fetch on Starboard in a now firmly established 10kt south easterly. As the mid fleet boats twin wired up the East Head in the now established breeze the fleet was compressed again. Fitzgerald/Grant now having established a sizeable lead were able to take it easy on the final run north to the Gallon Line. Behind them only seconds separated the second and third place boats of relative nippers Partington/Wells and Pascal/Pascal.

As the freshening easterly took boats close to the western side of the channel tired arms were forced to drop and re-hoist kites and with the tide now ebbing the remaining boats were forced to select the shallow northern shore with less tide or the centre of the channel with better breeze. All the competitors finished within minutes of each other leaving everyone guessing as to the final outcome, once the secretive and mysterious handicapping calculations of Mr McDanell's had been completed. Interesting that his choice of young crew meant he was hoist by his own handicap system petard!

The line honours of Fitzgerald/Grant were not quite enough to secure the win and with a one second advantage on corrected time MacLean/Sibthorp won the day with a combined sailing age of 132 and a double over sixty bonus. Having won the trophy for a third time together it seems MacLean/Sibthorp are still the team to beat.

Phil McDanell, our organiser, responded superbly to suggestions that this event should be a major gathering of International 14 alumni at the spiritual home of 14s. Itchenor dinners are legendary but the gathered crowd of world champs, POW winners and old boys with rather shabby reputations behaved themselves much better than "back in the day"!

It was a brilliant day and evening, with old friends and rivals Many thanks to Phil McDanell and his colleagues at Itchenor Sailing Club. Could next year be even bigger? Once thing is for certain, combined ages will be higher!

Overall Results:

PositionHelmCrewCombined Age
1Dave MacLeanJeremy Sibthorp132
2Andy FitxGeraldBruce Grant119
3Robin PascalMartin Pascale123
4Martin JonesWill Henderson123
5Damon RobertsDamian Ash119
6Andy BatesSimona Saccani120
7Andy PartingtonGreg Wells114
8Douglas PattisonBob Turner113
9Archie MasseyRas Turner113
10Andy GasserPhilipp Kaenzig120
11Steve FisherAdrian Williams105
12Philip McDanellPhil Kennard103
13Andrew PenmanCharles Duchesne100

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