Sunshine and snowflakes for Chichester sailors ... windsurfers to head for Hayling

Chichester Yacht Club’s Snowflake races five and six meant an early start for the 26 competitors.

Snowflake action at Chichester YC / Picture by Paula Olliff
Snowflake action at Chichester YC / Picture by Paula Olliff

With temperatures showing -3C as they arrived and very light wind forecast, it was not surprising the numbers were down. Those that braved the cold weather were welcomed by a glorious blue sky and a low sun which made the harbour look fantastic.

As the boats launched, they had to break through an area of ice close to the marina lock.

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Race officer Phil Allen set a relatively long course that took the competitors anti-clockwise around the lake.

In the fast fleet Alex Jackson and Will Carroll from Shoreham took the first race, from Alex Warren and Mary Henderson, both sailing Merlin Rockets.

In the second race the tide had turned, causing the race officer to warn the competitors to avoid being pushed over the start line. The second race was won by Alex Warren and Mary Henderson, followed by Steve and Sarah Cockerill.

The medium fleet was made up of Solos, Aeros, Lasers, 2000s and a Devoti. Conditions were not good for the asymmetric 2000s, with the single-handers making more of the light wind.

Race five, the first on the day, was won by Nigel Thomas from Hill Head SC, followed by Mark Riddington from Emsworth Slipper SC. In race six Stephen Holcroft from Dell Quay won, followed by Alex Butler from Hayling Island.

After six races the leaders of the fast fleet are Steve and Sarah Cockerill with six points, followed by Alex Warren and Mary Henderson tied for second place with Alex Jackson and Will Carroll.

Series leaders in the medium fleet are Alex Butler followed by Nigel Thomas, then Mark Riddington.

The final event in the Snowflake will be on Sunday, February 24 (1.30pm start) followed by prizegiving.

For many, Hayling Island is considered the spiritual home of windsurfing. The Round Hayling Island Challenge (sponsored by the SUP Company) is a great celebration of the sport first staged in 1980. The 14-mile circumnavigation can take anything from 60 minutes to six hours.

Open to windsurfers, SUPs and a number of canoe classes (OC1, OC2, OC6) the aim is to appeal to both experienced competitors and less experienced riders.

This iconic event gives entrants the opportunity to challenge themselves to the Starboard Course – the full 14-mile circumnavigation – or the Red Paddle Co nine-mile course which runs along the more sheltered side of the island.

Competitors face a number of challenges in this historic race, including navigating under the road bridge that links the island to the mainland and through the remnants of the old railway bridge, as well as through the narrow entrance to Langstone Harbour before the final challenge across the seafront into Chichester Harbour to complete the circumnavigation at HISC.

To secure your place on the start line for the Round Hayling Island Challenge visit

Entry opens on Friday, March 1.