A SPECIAL regatta weekend of racing and an anniversary party has been planned for the 95th birthday of a boat made special on Chichester Harbour.
This year will see the Solent Sunbeam class celebrate a remarkable milestone on the water with a weekend of back to back races at Itchenor Sailing Club on May 26 and 27.
This pretty, classic, three-man keelboat was designed by Alfred Westmacott in 1923 and has its base at Itchenor Sailing Club on Chichester Harbour.
More than 30 of its type remain on offer at the club – which includes the very first Sunbeam, Dainty, No 1, which is still actively raced today as are several boats that were built in the early 1920s.
They will all be celebrated at the special event which will see sailors from near and far attend.
On each day, taster sessions will be available from 3pm and the anniversary party will be held at the club on May 27, from 7.30pm.
Long-time owner Mike Williamson explained why the boat was special.
He said: “Helming a Sunbeam is serendipity. You leave all your problems ashore, and surrender to the sensuous joy of reacting to what she tells you.”
The boat has its roots back in the Victorian era.
A traditionally trained naval architect, Westmacott responded to a commission from three Hamble-based yachtsmen to design a racing dayboat that was not only pretty but one that could handle the boisterous conditions of the Solent.
The fleet at Itchenor ranges from 95 years of age to new all-GRP and newly epoxied yachts, yet all racing on level terms in a one-design fleet.
Regular racing is highly competitive with no restrictions for tides on most weekends and Thursday evenings from March to October.
Alongside regular racing in beautiful Chichester harbour, Sunbeams race at Cowes Classic Week and Cowes Week.
A sister fleet is based in Falmouth, Cornwall.
Julian Hawe, yacht skipper and Sunbeam crew, said: “The boats are awesome – the class’s best asset is that in light airs it is just amazing. Sunbeams behave as a boat should.”