Celebrating our 95th anniversary

2018 saw the Solent Sunbeam class celebrate 95 years on the water with a weekend of back to back races at Itchenor Sailing Club and an anniversary party in May.

This pretty, classic, 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.

A traditionally trained naval architect from the Victorian era, Westmacott responded to a commission from three Hamble-based yachtsmen to design a racing dayboat by producing a boat that was not only pretty but one that could handle the boisterous conditions of the Solent.

32 Sunbeams sail from Itchenor ranging 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.


‘The boats are awesome – the class’s best asset is that in light airs it is just amazing. Sunbeams behave as a boat should’ (Julian Hawe, yacht skipper and Sunbeam crew).

Alongside regular racing in beautiful Chichester Harbour, Sunbeams race at Cowes Classic Week and Cowes Week.

The enduring nature of the Solent Sunbeam is summed up by a long-time owner, Mike Williamson: ‘Helming a Sunbeam is serendipity. You leave all your problems ashore, and surrender to the sensuous joy of reacting to what she tells you.’

We welcomed many regular sailors at the anniversary weekend, as well as former and prospective sailors, and members of the sister fleet based in Falmouth.

The celebrations took place at Itchenor Sailing Club.