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Tideway 60th Birthday Challenge at Bosham Sailing Club

by Chris Hichings 17 Aug 2023 08:16 PDT 29 July 2023
Tideway 60th Birthday Challenge at Bosham © Claire Wren

Bosham Sailing Club hosted, for the Tideway Owners Association, the annual Tideway Challenge race on Saturday 29th July. This was a special event, being the 60th anniversary of the founding of the TOA.

A forecast of strong winds for the Saturday had limited entries to the race to just 21 boats - 10 from Bosham Sailing Club and 11 visitors. Given that the forecast had stabilised at 17-22kn SW, it was decided to go ahead and, at the 10am briefing, race officer David Macfarlane outlined a course that would involve a beat down the channel via mark "Wear" to "Ellanore", across to "Thorney" and then a run back up it via "Park" to "Deep End" before reaching to "Cobnor" and then beating back to the finish line.

He warned that, with wind over tide, it would be a bumpy and wet trip.

While the Bosham boats had experienced the conditions on the way down, perhaps encouraged by the comforting wind-shadow of Cobnor against the SW, drop outs were limited to seven and 14 boats lined up at the start. It was a tricky start because, particularly close to the Cobnor shore, the wind was erratic and there was a strong outflowing tide which took one boat over the line when the start gun went.

Once on the way and out of the shelter, it was indeed a bumpy and wet trip. Given this, there was significant advantage to those with crew and also to those who had reefed. With boats upright, they made a better course; while the single handers who had not reefed found the going particularly tricky. Competition was fierce from the start, with Hugh Ambrey (554), Jolyon Pope (54), Ian Wheeler (493), Debbie Phillips (1), Chris Ames (541), Carmel Royston (78) and Peter Shaw (220) all jostling for position.

Andrew Dransfield (479), Martyn Chase (457), Andy Davy (249) and John Coe (469) were the second wave, with Chris Hitchings (410), Richard Lee (557) and Morgan Morton (519) bringing up the rear. Disaster struck after the first mark when 493 broke some gear and headed for the shore for repairs; 249 decided enough was enough and returned home; and 54 discovered too late that it had failed to round the first mark at all.

The beat up to Ellanore saw the wind increase and the gaps between those who could keep their boats upright and the rest extend. 554 and 1 were first around, followed by 54, 220, 541 and 78. Against the wind, a few took more than one go at getting round the mark and, once round it, a couple of the visitors took a moment to find the course to the next mark but, by the time the third wave reached Ellanore, the fleet ahead of them were a few dots on the horizon.

For, once round Thorney, there commenced the white-knuckle ride downwind, made more entertaining since both the intermediate and final mark required a gybe. Here, the advantage of reef and crew disappeared and those with full rig could - if they dared - take advantage.

541 managed this and overtook two boats and, in so doing, gave a spectacular example of what Tideways are not supposed to do - planing! He did remark afterwards that he feared the stress of keeping the boat heading in the right direction would break his tiller.

The final reach and beat were calmer and, at the finish, 554 beat 1 by just 30 seconds. 54 was next, albeit retired having missed a mark. 541 thus was third, just two minutes after 554 and took the single-handed trophy. 78 was fourth and 220 fifth. The minor excitement was a duel between 469 and 479 for 6th place. 469 won by one second.

Perhaps the most remarkable result was no capsizes and only one retirement from gear failure. The race officer suggested that, in these challenging conditions, all competitors should pat themselves on the back.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClub
3rd541AMES ChrisBSC
5th220SHAW PeterLEE IzzieBSC
6th469COE JohnTOA
8th457CHASE MartynBSC
10th557LEE RichardTOA
11th519MORTON MorganANDERSON JudithTOA

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