The annual Stewart Morris trophy team racing match between Society and Itchenor SC took place on Sunday 4 June in the most incredible champagne sailing conditions in Chichester Harbour. This was a particularly special edition of the decades old annual event, as this year is the 75th anniversary of Stewart Morris’s Olympic Gold medal win in his Swallow “Swift”. His Olympic achievement and that of founding the Society are suitably recorded on the trophy.
Society’s team was unfortunately somewhat depleted due to Covid as Barbara Langford and Edwin Datson had to pull out, leaving Ian Armstrong and Mark as one crew, and Tom & Ed Low as the other. The third Society boat was made up with Simon Slater, a Society member, and crew, against a full Itchenor side.
The starboard-square course was set in a challenging, fickle, shifty & gusty north easterly wind and strong spring ebbing tide. Maintaining momentum and height on the start line was key for clear air, as was going left up the first beat in order to stay out of the strong tide. Judging the appropriate time to tack back onto port on the perfect layline to reach the first mark proved tricky and most boats opted for safety and overstood the mark.
The Itchenor team were fast and smart – their years’ of Swallow experience showed through. Generally races were close with winning results often 1, 4, 5 or 2, 3, 5, and on a couple of occasions defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory within 3 boat lengths of the finish line as teams struggled to judge the shifty conditions and the tide. After a highly enjoyable day racing the most beautiful Swallows, Itchenor prevailed with 3 wins to 1 loss, and their superior boat speed and often clever and more aggressive team racing tactics proved too good for the Society teams.
The day had started with a fabulous salad and cold meat lunch and ended with cake and tea. Spirits were high, smiles were wide and much fun was had by all. This is a prestigious event and it would be good if we could break the current streak of 8 consecutive wins for Itchenor, although in the overall standings Society are still comfortably ahead on wins. There’s always next year!
Thanks to Tom Low for the report!