Sunbeam Invitational attracts sailing stars

Three Olympic medallists, along with world champions and class heavyweights who have proven themselves in a range of dinghies and keelboats are going head to head in an Invitational Regatta in the one design Solent Sunbeam class on 17th May.

Attracting the big names, which include Gold Medallist Mike MacIntyre, along with Mark Covell and Ossie Stewart, Silver and Bronze Medallists respectively, indicates the resurgence of the class as a growing and highly competitive fleet.

The Solent Sunbeam, the first of which appeared in 1923, has, like many established classes, taken on a new life form.  Seven brand new GRP hulls have been built in the last three years, which perform exactly as the original wooden boat, and for half the price.

Some tough competition can be expected in the interest of maintaining reputations and showing what the Solent Sunbeam is capable of. However, the aim of the day is for the top invited helms and their crew to have an enjoyable day racing in Chichester Harbour, from the fleet’s base at Itchenor Sailing Club, with owners on board as third crew to assist with navigation and to keep clear of the shallows. The day will be extremely civilised with morning racing, lunch back at the Club, and an afternoon race followed by tea on the Club lawn.

Roger Wickens, class representative explained, “With twenty-two Solent Sunbeams being raced by top class helms and crew we hope to raise the profile of our Sunbeam racing from Itchenor.  The timing is right for the class to expand. The new GRP hulls offer much improved affordability within a very friendly and competitive class.”

The most recent of the GRP boats, V67 Misty, will be on display at Haines Boatyard in Itchenor to coincide with the Invitational Regatta.

The class is promoting itself with ongoing vigour to attract new members both into the new GRP and the existing wooden boats, either as full or part owners.  New crew, including younger crew, will always be welcome.

Roger Wickens added, “The Solent Sunbeam's classic good looks and exceptional sailing qualities puts it into a class of its own. Add to this pleasure the excitement of racing two ton yachts in frequent close quarter tacking duels along the shorelines of Chichester Harbour, and arguably we enjoy the best keelboat racing in the country every time we venture out racing.”

For more information, visit Solent Sunbeam.

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