Double Olympians help West Sussex youth regatta celebrate 25 years

Two double Olympic and Paralympic medallists were on hand to help out and present prizes at the 25th West Sussex Schools and Youth Sailing Association (WSSYSA) Regatta on 8-9 September at Cobnor Activities Centre Trust (CACT) in Chichester Harbour.

Team entries were invited from 24 WSSYSA affiliated clubs and youth sailing associations, and 100 boats turned out to sail in five fleets including a rookie fleet, which offered competitive sailing in a controlled environment for sailors attending their first open regatta.

Medals were awarded for fleet positions as well as positions within more popular classes. Most hotly contested every year is the team trophy, judged on the finishing positions of the top five boats from any club.

Sailing in Chichester Harbour is a delight but rather depends on a rare combination of sufficient water and consistent wind. Saturday began with a wait for the wind to build, delaying the start of the first race. When the wind did come in it continued to build, and racing was stopped after two races as more sailors began to capsize or feel the cold.

On Sunday launch time was advanced to allow more time on the water, and the westerly wind arrived earlier, making for perfect sailing conditions for all. Three more races were completed by each fleet without incident, some feat considering that Bosham and Itchenor were also running club races at the same time in the same location!

Nick Rusbridge, WSSYSA event director, said: “Running racing safely for 100 boats over two days in the harbor would be impossible without the support of our affiliated clubs, who provide race equipment, safety boats and a host of volunteers on the water and off. CACT were the perfect hosts and worked tirelessly to keep everyone happy.

“We are particularly grateful to twice Paralympic medallist Helena Lucas, MBE, who provided coaching to the sailors throughout the weekend, and to twice Olympic medallist Ian Walker, RYA Director of Racing, who presented our medals and trophies.”

Ian added: “It was great to see so many smiling young faces on the water and some wonderful performances too. The weather gods shone on Sunday and rewarded all the hard work and organisation.”

The WSSYSA Team Trophy was won by Felpham Sailing Club, who have dominated the event in recent years and who will host the event in 2019.

Nick concluded: “We look forward to at least as many entries in 2019 as we savour the delights of sailing on the Sussex coast.”

For full results and more about the WSSYSA visit www.wssysa.org WSSYSA is an RYA affiliated organization.

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