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60th Anniversary Wayfarer Nationals at Castle Cove - photo © Richard White
60th Anniversary Wayfarer Nationals at Castle Cove - photo © Richard White

Wayfarer Class Racing Review 2018

2018 has seen another good year of racing for the Wayfarer Class. The programme included class racing at several large and well established summer regattas as well as a wide ranging schedule of domestic championships and open meetings headlined by the 60th Anniversary National Championships which were hosted by Castle Cove SC during the first weekend of June.

The season began with the Inland Championships at Datchet SC at the beginning of April with a strong fleet enjoying close racing in ideal conditions on the Saturday. Unfortunately, there was no racing the following day because of a lack of wind and the event was won by Michael McNamara/Simon Townsend from Andrew/Tom Wilson.

The next big event was to be the Western Area Championships hosted by Shoreham SC but sadly the Club was unable to host the event because its new ramp was still in build and the decision was sensibly taken to reschedule the event. Locks SC/Tudor SC/Langstone SC kindly agreed to include the event as part of the Langstone Harbour Race Weekend over the August Bank Holiday later in the year.

As a consequence of the rescheduling of the Westerns the second big event on the UKWA Calendar was the National Championships where 40 boats including visitors from Ireland competed in some very close racing over three days. The weather wasn’t playing ball with the programme as the first two days badly affected by fog while desperately light winds on the final day curtailed the schedule. The race committee and host club worked very hard nonetheless to put on an excellent event. Cream generally rises to the top and the Championships were won (for the umpteenth time) by Michael McNamara/Simon Townsend with Len Jone/Pete Mitchell runners up.

Next up was the Eastern Area Championships hosted by Waldringfield SC at the end of July. This was another event affected by the wind conditions (too much this time) as little more than half the 17 entries actually raced and only 5 boats managed to complete the three races sailed. Nevertheless the fleet had an enjoyable weekend with a BBQ and social on the Saturday evening. The event was won convincingly by Andrew/Tom Wilson with Roger Challis/Mark Johnston pipping Brian Lamb/Sam Pygall to second place.

The end of August saw the rescheduled Western Area Championships but an appalling weather forecast (which proved to be spot on) on the Sunday deterred most travellers. Again no racing was possible on Sunday but good racing was enjoyed on Saturday. The event was won by Bill Whitney/John Shelton who shared the race wins with Paul Hughes/Tracey Villa who finished in second place.

Zhik Poole Week day 3 - photo © David Harding / www.sailingscenes.com

Zhik Poole Week day 3 – photo © David Harding / www.sailingscenes.com

The fleet progressed then to the Southern Area Championships hosted this year by Medway YC, and the largest turnout of the year outside the National Championships with over 20 boats competing. The weather gods were kind on both days allowing the full schedule of six races to be completed in winds of 12-20mph. The racing was dominated by Andrew/Tom Wilson who won from Bill Whitney/John Shelton.

All of the above events formed part of the Craftinsure sponsored National Circuit and Travellers Series along with open meetings at West Oxfordshire SC (combined with the class Junior Championships which were won by Sam Cannell) and at Swarkestone SC, a new venue for the class. The Series was brought to an end by the Finale at Bough Beech SC at the beginning of November.

Going into the Finale Andrew/Tom Wilson held a narrow lead in both the NCS and the Travellers but could be caught in the NCS where a boat’s best three results from the eight designated Travellers events count provided at lease one fresh water and one salt water events are included. In the event Andrew and Tom had a difficult weekend in deepest Kent finishing 8th overall, their worst result of the year by a considerable margin. Michael McNamara/Simon Townsend won the open meeting and pipped Andrew and Tom for the NCS Cup by the narrowest of margins. Bill Whitney crewed by Lisa Whitney/John Shelton rounded off the podium. The Travellers Series Trophy was won by Andrew and Tom from Bill and Lisa/John with Brian Lamb/Sam Pygall finishing in third. Over 70 boats competed in at least one of the Travellers events and 14 boats competed in three or more and qualified for the NCS. As ever we are grateful to our sponsors, Craftinsure along with McNamara Sails and Hartley Boats who all generously support the end of season draw with prizes of free insurance, a new sail and an undercover as well as other goodies.

More detailed racing reports are available at wayfarer.org.uk/racing/race-results

The National Circuit and Travellers Series form only part of the UKWA racing programme. In addition to the events above, the Scottish Championships were hosted by Loch Lomond SC and won by Fergus Duncannon and David Sparkes. The Irish Inland Championships were won by Gordon Jess and Rachel Bevan at Culluan WSC. There was a good entry of Wayfarers at Poole Week in August, and the L’Escargot Trophy at Aldeburgh, and the Wayfarer fleets at Bourne End Week and the Medway Dinghy Regatta were also well supported. Hickling Broad SC hosted its inaugural Wayfarer open meeting at the beginning of September when a small fleet enjoyed good racing. Club racing is also important. The Wayfarer performs well on handicap (just look at the results of the Wayfarer sailed by Andrew/Tom Wilson in the Sailjuice Winter Series in 2017/18) but there is also good quality one design racing every week at several clubs, not least Medway YC in Kent and Parkstone YC in Poole Harbour.

Abroad, a number of the UK based boats travelled to Assens in SE Denmark for the European Championships. Although numerically the fleet was modest, it was strong and included sailors with Olympic and America’s Cup experience, Olympic trialists and those with championship successes both in the Wayfarer and other classes. The event was sailed over four days which increased as the week went on. On the final couple of days only half the fleet ventured out to race because of the conditions but those who watched from the shore were treated to a masterclass in boat handling by the teams at the front. Eventually it became a shootout between Michael McNamara/Simon Townsend and Mogens Just/Anders Friis from Denmark (the reigning Wayfarer International Champions). McNamara/Townsend did enough to win but no doubt battle will be resumed between these two and the other top teams at the next International Championships which will be held at Greystones SC in Co. Wicklow, Ireland from 20th-26th July 2019.

What were the highlights of the racing year? Not the weather, that’s for sure. However, numbers competing in the Travellers Series have held up well and we have seen several sailors from other classes trying out a Wayfarer this year and then buying one and racing it keenly. The quality of the racing and the boat handling at the front end of the fleet was excellent again, but wherever you are in the pecking order you will find somebody to race against. Above all, the Wayfarer is a friendly class, with the people at the front prepared to willingly share their knowledge and experience throughout the fleet especially with those new to it and this seems to be a feature of the class not only on the circuit but at club level too. The socials are pretty good too.

Aside from the International Championships at Greystones SC in July 2019 there’s another busy racing programme for this terrific all-rounder. Find out more about the Wayfarer at wayfarer.org.uk

by Tim Townsend

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