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Solent Sunbeam prepare for Chisholm Weekend

The first weekend in May will see the historic Solent Sunbeam fleet of classic keelboats from Itchenor take part in the Chisholm Weekend Trophy.

The event is likely to be particularly well-attended this year since the class is celebrating its 95th anniversary. The Chisholm Weekend is in its 30th year and is held in honour of Sir Henry Chisholm.

It was in 1957 that Sir Henry Chisholm bought Sunbeam V24 Fay from a boatyard in Bosham and restored her to racing class condition.

In 1964 he was elected the Solent Sunbeam Class Captain, a post which he held for 11 years during which he became a central figure in this important yacht’s history, hence the commemorative weekend of racing taking place in May each year named after him.

In the early 1960s, the Solent division of the fleet was only managing to turn out 3 or 4 out of a total of the 8 or 9 Sunbeams on the water at the weekly races held at Itchenor Sailing Club, and membership of the class had dwindled to its lowest levels.

The organisation of the class was haphazard and amateurish and there was no overall plan or direction. However, from the moment Henry became Class Captain, this all changed and under his enthusiastic leadership the Class was completely reorganised and revitalised.

Sir Henry also successfully pursued his vision of resuming the building of new Sunbeams.

The original plans for the boat had been lost in a fire after WW2, but Sir Henry commissioned, at his own expense, new plans which were taken off the lines of one of the existing boats.

He subsequently donated these plans to the Sunbeam Solent Division so that new boats could be built to the original specification.

The first of the new builds, Sunbeam V40, was built in 1976 in Cornwall with V41 built shortly after, to be finished by George Haines & Sons of Itchenor.

Commenting on the launch of V41 in 1979, Sir Henry Chisholm noted, “Sunbeam Class members have a reputation for good sailing, good sportsmanship and good manners, things that combine to give an esprit de corps.”

The Chisholm Weekend will take place on 5 & 6 May 2018 at Itchenor Sailing Club.

Sunbeams racing at Cowes - Click image for a larger image

This pretty, classic, two or three-man keelboat which was designed by Alfred Westmacott in 1923 has been continuously sailing in the Solent for 95 years and has its base at Itchenor Sailing Club.

The very first Sunbeam – Dainty, No. 1 – is still actively raced today as are several boats that were built in the early 1920’s.

There are two fleets of Sunbeams in the UK: Solent Sunbeams and Falmouth Sunbeams.

Over time the two fleets have developed a number of differences. The Solent Sunbeam rules permit GRP construction, a wider use of epoxy for traditionally built wooden boats and the use of spinnakers.

The Falmouth Sunbeam rules do not allow GRP boats, limit the use of epoxy for traditionally built wooden boats and do not permit the use of spinnakers.

Further information on the class and event can be found at www.solentsunbeam.co.uk

Solent Sunbeam Regattas:

Panerai British Classic Week - Saturday 14 to Saturday 21 July 2018

Cowes Classics Week - Monday 23 to Friday 27 July 2018

Lendy Cowes Week - Saturday 4 August to Saturday 11 August 2018

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