Aero 5s and other single-handers in action | All Race Week pictures by Neil ShawcrossAero 5s and other single-handers in action | All Race Week pictures by Neil Shawcross
Aero 5s and other single-handers in action | All Race Week pictures by Neil Shawcross

Race Week picture special – Who needs Caribbean when Chichester Harbour offers ideal sailing conditions?

With the wind gusting to gale force and steep white-topped waves, the final day's racing in the biggest regatta on the south coast had to be abandoned for all but a handful of intrepid keelboats.

But the preceding four days of Chichester Harbour Race Week 2023 had produced conditions to suit all - two days of fresh breezes for the more energetic to enjoy, two more of lighter winds for those who, in the words of one competitor, had no need to travel to the Caribbean for their sailing pleasure.

Entries hit 400, up on last year, and sailors came from all through the harbour and way beyond.

Bowmoor SC in Gloucestershire turned up with 24 dinghies, and also towed the club's sole Elite keelboat all the way to Hayling Island SC, host for the Chichester Harbour Federation event.

In all, there were competitors from 45 clubs, from Fort William in Scotland to Pontypool in South Wales, Merseyside to Dorset, as well as from all along the south coast.

Racing was tight in many of the 19 separate fleets, started from four committee boats. HISC sailors dominated both entry and prize lists, taking the senior and junior team prizes.

But there were good results for entrants from other harbour clubs.

Mark Riddington of Emsworth Slipper SC was dominant in the RS Aero 7s, with 27 boats largest of the three fleets of these increasingly popular single-handers, as was his clubmate David Valentine in the Hadron/Devoti class.

Among other Slipper members to do well were Andrew Gould (Musto Skiff), second in the asymmetric handicap, and Tom Kennedy, fourth Aero 7.

Michael Thomson and Helen Moore took seventh place in RS200 fleet, by far the biggest in the regatta with 42 boats.

From Emsworth SC, Jonny Hepworth and Mark Allerston tied on points with the 2000 fleet winners from Erith YC, but had to be content with second place on countback.

Third places overall went to James Jenkins (Hadron/Devoti), John Derbyshire (Aero 7), Claire Power (Aero 5) and Eliza South (Ilca 6). Eliza won the Wednesday race.

Lucy Boreham from Chichester YC was consistently highly placed in the Europes, finishing second overall, while clubmates Thomas Knight and Sophie Cath were third RS Feva, scoring a second and two thirds.

Dell Quay SC's contingent failed this year to carry home any of the coveter Race Week plates. Best placed was Sue Manning, seventh Aero 5 overall and third in the Wednesday race.

The week was not without incident: a Finn dinghy seriously damaged in a collision with la motoring yacht, one helmsman losing his position in a race to stand by an injured rival until rescuers arrived.

But with so many boats on the water it was a tribute to the safety organisation - part of the overall effort from some 100 volunteers from harbour clubs belonging to the federation - that bumps and bruises were minor.

For full results, see

Dates for the 2024 event, which will be the 60th edition and will mark the centenary of the Chichester Harbour Federation, are August 19-23.