Wayfarer National Championships 2016 ~ Report

IMG_0896-001Medway Yacht Club was delighted to host the Wayfarer National Championships over the weekend of 17th-19th June. A small team put in a great deal of work in the preparation stage and were hugely supported over the long weekend by the Rear Commodore, Neil, the Club Steward and the staff in the galley. The shore team led by Chris and Joan Sayers, Ollie and Liz Hulf and the Squib fleet put in sterling work each day. On the water, the visiting PRO, Dave Ellis, was well supported by Philip and Alex Clarabut on Eleison, which was the committee boat, and the many club members who helped out in the mark laying and safety boats.

The schedule was to have nine races over three full days and competitors started to arrive with their camper vans and tents on Thursday evening. This included one crew which had travelled from Dublin via Derby where they had collected a brand new Wayfarer. Local sailors were at the Club to welcome the visitors, the bar was open and everybody was able to enjoy a chilli con carne and a convivial evening.

IMG_0869-001Friday dawned with a forecast of lightish winds and some rain. The Vice Commodorewelcomed the competitors on behalf of the Club and this was followed by a briefing from the PRO. The wind appeared to be lighter than forecast and the AP was displayed ashore while the race team went downriver to look for wind and the sailors finished their preparations. The race team must have found some wind because the AP was removed but this was only the cue for a prolonged and heavy downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning at Lower Upnor. The sailors at first found shelter in the lower marquee but as the rainwater ran in torrents down the hill, better shelter was found in the Clubhouse and under the terrace marquee. There was drama in the clubhouse too as the drains were unable to cope with the volume of rain and there was flooding in the galley. Fortunately, there was a small army of volunteers available to help clear away the water and mop up.

Sadly, the storm sucked away the wind, and there was no racing at all on Friday which would mean a wholesale change to the racing schedule for the rest of the weekend.

IMG_0906-001Saturday’s forecast was for a north westerly wind of force 2-3. The PRO scheduled four races to try and catch up some lost time from the day before. Racing took place in Long Reach in shifty overcast conditions. A triangle/sausage course was laid but the PRO struggled in the conditions to lay an unbiased start line. There was so much pin end bias that virtually the whole fleet was at one end of the line at every start. The black flag was used to discourage impetuosity, although by race 4 some sailors were caught out by it as they strived to get a good start. Consistency was really hard to achieve as even some of the best sailors got double digit results in their scores. The sail back to the Club was typical Medway with a failing wind and strengthening ebb tide making the last few hundred metres a real slog.

A consolation for everybody after the frustrating sailing conditions was the Saturday evening Drinks Reception and Championship Dinner where over seventy people sat down to an excellent meal. On everybody’s lips was the question “what will Sunday bring?”

Sunday duly arrived. The forecast was mixed depending upon which website you were looking at. the optimistic forecast was for sunshine and a south westerly breeze of force 3-4. The optimists were correct as this was pretty much what we got, with the wind occasionally at the top end of the forecast. Racing took place in Pinup Reach which seemed to be incredibly busy. Aside from the Wayfarers, there were racing yachts, cruising yachts, motor boats, racing dinghies from Wilsonian SC and even a ship sharing or passing through the race area. One race was required to allow a discard and three races would allow two discards. The conditions favoured the heavier and/or fitter crews but the cream still came to the top with the leaders overnight holding off all opposition. Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend were deserved winners of the Championships. All the fleet needed to do at the end of racing was have their traditional sail home via Hoo Creek, pack their boats away and enjoy the prize giving where many trophies and prizes were handed out by the Commodore.

IMG_0897Simon Winn chaired the protest committee which fortunately wasn’t too busy, having only a request for redress and a couple of arbitrations to attend to all weekend.

And what about the Medway boats? How did they fare? Several boats had good individual race results but putting together a consistent series was a different story. There were some successes however.

Len Jones and Jamie Lea were the most successful local crew, finishing 2nd overall for the second year in succession. They were awarded the Plymouth Trophy for winning Race 4. They won Race 5 as well and were awarded the Fairway Trophy as the first placed Medway boat. Richard Stone and Catherine Gore finished 10th overall. Tim and Jacqueline Townsend  finished 12th and won the Pert Platter as the first placed husband and wife team. Jon Moon and Tony Alexander won the Bronze fleet. Jonny Hewat and Charlotte Penny won the Silver fleet. For full results, please see the MYC website or YachtsandYachting.com.

As always, we cannot name everybody who was involved in putting on this event but we thank you all. We also thank our generous sponsors, Chesley Storage, Pirates Cave, Craftinsure, Hartley Boats, Hyde Sails, Energy Solutions and Shepherd Neame.

Tim Townsend

MYC Wayfarer Class Captain

Photographs courtesy of Colin Weston