St Helen's was represented at the British Schools Dinghy Racing Association Firefly National Championships in Chichester Harbour. Hosted by Itchenor Sailing Club, this year was the 70th anniversary of this event with a 70-strong sailing fleet from 20 schools.
This was the culmination of a year's practice for Izzie, Kirsty, Lucy and Megan (Year 11) in their first competitive year as sailors. They have sailed throughout the year, in all weathers, sharing training sessions with Radley and competing in the winter and spring series in the SB20s and at Farmoor Oxfordshire Schools Firefly Regatta in the depth of December.
Following an introduction, on Day 1 to sailing in a tidal area, sailors had an opportunity to put the new knowledge into practice. A mini-series was held in the afternoon, with several 'general recalls' allowing plenty of practice for getting to and crossing the start line in a large fleet.
The main regatta, held over the following two days, comprised 10 individual races, each lasting between 35 and 45 minutes. The morning start lines and courses were located to move the fleet down the estuary, over three miles to East Head Point. A short break was taken for lunch here and then in the afternoon the fleet would race in stages back up to Itchenor Harbour and the sailing club.
Both St Helen's crews' confidence and performance improved dramatically over the event. Having never sailed on tidal water before their enthusiasm could never be doubted and their determination to continue through the final day, in a large Spring Tide and strong breeze, was commendable, with some of the most experienced boats in the fleet struggling to finish the last races.
Mrs Wilson, Duke of Edinburgh's Award Manager