A testing Gallon

07 Jul A testing Gallon


The Gallon is the most prestigious of the International 14 open meetings run from

Itchenor Sailing Club and traditionally the second biggest race of the year after

the PoW. The winners receive a very fine trophy which has the added advantage,

as the name suggests, of being able to hold a gallon of your favourite beer. It is

also preceded by the Gallon Party and this year thanks to the hospitality of Philip

McDanell and ISC it was a slightly groggy fleet that woke on the Sunday to find

a 20 knot breeze blowing in Chichester Harbour and Hayling Bay. In light of the

breeze the race officer opted to move the course from the bay into the flatter water

of the harbour, meaning an hour postponement to wait for the tide to come in. This

gave even the less bright members of the fleet a chance to memorise the course,

which involved three sausages from near Park up to Dunes broken up by a tour of the

Emsworth channel on the middle lap.

The race started with 16 boats making the start and the wind showing no sign of

abating with gusts of up to 25 knots. The fleet got away cleanly with Martin Jones

and Zeb Elliott getting the best start and leading up the harbour. Tom Heywood and

Ed Clay emerged in second place but a swim on a tack let Andy FitzGerald and Leith

Shenstone, Andy and Tom Partington and Katie Nurton and Dave Royse through and

by the windward Martin and Zeb had developed a good lead. The fleet then hoisted

kites and charged back down the harbour. While the late start meant many of the

dinghy fleets had finished racing, being a Sunday the harbour was still very busy.

Most boats managed to weave their way to the bottom mark, albeit with a cooling

swim for some, but unfortunately Steve Fisher and Neil Barber had a nasty crash

involving a dory and a Contender and had to be towed home; only kept afloat due to

the skill of the rescue crew.

On the second beat Tom and Ed got up to second after working their way round Andy

and Leith and the Partingtons, whose day had unfortunately ended after their rig broke

just above the lowers. The second lap involved two sail reaches up and down the

Emsworth Channel. While made easier with the T-foil rudders, the two sail reach and

the inevitable two sail gybe is one of the hardest bits of 14 sailing in a breeze. The

crew has to move a lot of mainsheet to keep the boat flat and the helm has to avoid

spending too long in the “death zone”, where neither heading up nor bearing away

loses power. Martin and Zeb showed the fleet how it was done and extended their

lead down the reaches, while Tom and Ed made life harder for themselves by hitting

a mark, allowing Andy and Leith to get back on their tail. But on the run back down

the harbour a broken halyard saw the end of Andy and Leith’s challenge. By the time

Tom and Ed had missed another mark and had to drop the kite and beat back, Martin

and Zeb had a solid lead and took the winners gun at Park, where the race officer

decided he was running out of rescue boats and shortened the course. Katie and Dave

showed that practice (and height) can keep the lighter crews near the front in the

breeze and finished third, followed by the reliable Martin and Robin Pascal. In the end

there were only seven finishers after a combination of gear failure and capsizes had

taken its toll on the fleet.

Congratulations to Martin and Zeb who gave a very impressive display of windy

weather sailing and have, leading up to the PoW in less than two weeks, shown

themselves as the boat to beat in a breeze. Though if they want to keep winning they

may have to start bringing their own toolbox as the rest of the fleet becomes less

willing to lend them kit….


Itchenor Gallon Results

1st Martin Jones & Zeb Elliott

2nd Tom Heywood & Ed Clay

3rd Katie Nurton and Dave Royse

4th Martin Pascal & Robin Pascal

5th Damon Roberts & Alan Roberts


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