The 60th Anniversary UK Wayfarer National Championships

The 60th Anniversary UK Wayfarer National Championships take place this weekend (from 1-3 June 2018) at Castle Cove Sailing Club on the excellent sailing waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.

by Tim Townsend

With nearly 40 boats signed up already, entries still being received by the organisers, the band and beer booked for Saturday evening and the weather set fair for the weekend, this has all the prospects of being a good one. With a classic Weymouth south westerly force 3/4 forecast for the lardy boys on Friday, a light and variable day for the pond life on Saturday and an easterly force 2/3 for the inbetweeners on Sunday there should be something for everybody.

At the beginning of July the Wayfarer European Championships will be held in Denmark and several of the British based fleet will be travelling to compete there. However, the National Championships are not the appetiser. They are the main course of the UKWA calendar and also form part of the Craftinsure National Circuit and Travellers Series 2018. As usual all the boats will race together but there will be special memento prizes for the winners of Silver and Bronze fleets along with the keenly fought team trophy (currently held by Medway YC). The racing at the front of the Gold fleet will be keenly watched as excellent boatspeed, top end strategies and tactics, and balletic boat handling skills set those teams apart from the rest.

Which are the teams to watch out for this year?

  • At the top of the list we have to put Mike McNamara and Simon Townsend from Rollesby Broad SC. These two are the reigning champions and have the experience to dig themselves out of average positions every time. They keep scoring counters, or to put it another way I’d be delighted to have their discard. Not the lightest combination, they nevertheless know how to make the boat sing in the light stuff too.
  • Other consistent performers at the top of the results are Andrew and Tom Wilson from Datchet Water SC. Andrew has been racing Wayfarers for longer than Mike Mac and has an excellent portfolio of winning results. Andrew was runner up at the World Championships at Hayling Island a generation ago, and with son Tom has returned to the class in recent years winning several area championships. They were the Craftinsure Travellers Series champions in 2017 and are the reigning Eastern area champions.
  • A good bet for a strong performance in a range of conditions would be Guy Marks and Mel Titmuss from Bough Beech SC. Guy was the national champion in 2015 with son Tom, but since teaming up with Mel has consistently performed at the front of the fleet. Third place at the Inland championships earlier in the year along with third places at the 2017 Eastern area championship and Bough Beech Finale indicate their form.
  • Knocking on the door for the last few years have been Len Jones and Pete Mitchell from Medway YC. A previous Inland champion and current Southern area champion, Len was runner up in the National Championships in 2015 and 2016. Last year Len won two races at the National Championships but his scoreline was spoiled by a capsize in one of the races. One of the lighter combos this team could do very well in the forecast winds. They have a new boat and a new Windex for this year. What more could they want?
  • Another top team which performs well in the stronger breezes is that of Bill Whitney and John Sheltonfrom Shoreham SC. The forecast wind may be less than they would prefer but they are good allrounders and will make the boat go well even in the lighter stuff.
  • And the wildcards? Graduate national champion and Scorpion sailor, John Clementson from Chipstead SC has raced the Wayfarer a few times during the last three or four years. He has now acquired his own. A very skilful sailor who loves nothing better than making a boat go when there seems to me to be no wind at all he will be one to watch with his crew Simon Forbes (another Scorpion man). Watch out also for Richard Stone and Catherine Gore from Medway YC, another light pairing who placed in the top three in three of the races at last year’s National championships. Don’t discount Brian Lamb and Sam Pygall from Wilsonian SC who have Championship race wins under their belts. Finally, beware of the mystery late entrants with 49er/RS800 pedigree. The Wayfarer may be no skiff but it has a mast, boom and two white sails just like those classes. If they can work out what to do with the spinnaker pole they will no doubt be a threat.