– Report by Sam Pygall & Tim Townsend
The Craftinsure UK Wayfarer National Circuit (NCS) and Travellers continued over the weekend of the 27/28th April as West Oxfordshire Sailing Club (WOSC) hosted the second event of the series, in a shared event with the Wanderer Inlands.
Seven local boats were joined by four visitors from as a far afield as Swarkestone, Medway/Wilsonian and Datchet. A meeting at WOSC has become a familiar fixture for the Wayfarers in recent years, presenting a stern test of boat handling in restricted inland waters before you add the challenge that the weather may bring! ...read more
Speaking of the weather, as with many events scheduled over the same weekend, Storm Hannah threatened to have a significant impact leading up to the regatta. A few boats chose not to travel but as it turned out, after a short delay to proceedings on Saturday, racing was possible with a 2pm start. With a F3-6 blowing across the pond, the first race started in absolute carnage as upside down Wanderers and Wayfarers scattered the course. Mike Weighill and Carl Martin and the usual inland heavy air specialists Brian Lamb and Sam Pygall cut through the debris and battled it out at the front. Weighill/Martin capsized to allow Lamb/Pygall through momentarily but a miraculous recovery meant they were still keeping pace and eventually took the lead after some exciting and panicky gybes. Lamb/Pygall then spectacularly overestimated their boat handling in the testing conditions in attempting to fly the spinnaker but were wiped out allowing Weighill/Martin to sail serenely off into the distance for a well-deserved victory, followed by local sailors Alex Nairac and Mark Jennings. Lamb/Pygall recovered after a few attempts at righting the boat and were next to finish in 3rd (and last).
The second race of the day was sailed in similar violently gusty conditions and again it was Weighill/Martin and Lamb/Pygall fighting both each other and the conditions at the front of a diminished fleet, this time with the dynamic O’Donnells chasing hard in 3rd. Weighill/Martin held the lead for 45 gruelling minutes until Lamb/Pygall slipped through on the final beat and kept upright through two scary gybes prior to a screaming reach to the finish. The O’Donnells held onto a gusty (and gutsy) 3rd. After two gruelling races, Weighill/Martin deservedly ended the first day on top of the pile.
The evening’s fish and chip supper and live band proved a great success with those who still had energy to burn and copious amounts of Hobgoblin Gold were drunk.
The second day started with a shifted and lighter wind (F2-3), an amended schedule of three further races and a significant enhancement in the competition in the form of the entry of Wayfarer National circuit runner-up from 2018, Andrew Wilson, crewed by Sue Risbridger. In the first race of the day, Wilson/Risbridger made up for missing Saturday’s excitement by shooting off the line, rounding the first mark first and never looking back as they extended a significant lead lap by lap. In 2nd place, Lamb/Pygall were just ahead of the O’Donnells until a second spinnaker error of the weekend allowed the O’Donnells to squeeze through. Lamb/Pygall fought back to take 2nd before the end, just ahead of the O’Donnells, with overnight leaders Weighill/Martin back in 4th.
The fourth race of the weekend was a significantly tighter affair with Lamb/Pygall and Wilson/Risbridger switching places throughout the race after the start, clear ahead of the chasing pack. In the end, Wilson showed his skill to snatch the lead on the last lap, avoiding the melee of Wanderers and take a second win of the day, with Lamb/Pygall taking 2nd and in the process cementing a strong position for the event overall. Local boat 11174 helmed by Andrew Day crewed by John Whiteside took finished 3rd.
After a short break and a change to the course that gave the longest beat and run of the weekend, the final race started. Wilson/Risbridger again took the pin and showing excellent boat-speed arrived at the first mark clear ahead, with Lamb/Pygall giving chase. The two teams pulled away into the distance with the longer course giving an opportunity for upwind and downwind speed to pay. The O’Donnells proved to be best of the rest in the final race, holding off fellow Swarkestone boat Weighill/Martin with some aggressive downwind manoeuvres. In the end, Wilson took an extremely comfortable victory for a clean sweep on Sunday but Lamb/Pygall ended up comfortable winners overall with Saturday’s results proving the clincher alongside some consistent sailing on the second day. Weighill/Martin’s dazzling results on Saturday with solid results on Sunday meant they took a clear second overall, with the Wilson/Risbridger team just doing enough to take a podium position ahead of the dynamic O’Donnell’s in fourth. The best placed local boat was sailed by Alex Nairac and Mark Jennings.
A slide show from Saturday’s epic conditions can be seen below:
…while a video from Sunday’s more benign racing can be seen here:
The next Craftinsure Wayfarer National Circuit Series event will be the Eastern Area Championship to be held at Medway Yacht Club over the weekend of 18/19 May which always provides a great event both on and off the water with a competitive home fleet on some challenging estuary water. After two events Lamb/Pygall hold a slim lead in the overall standings from Wilson/Wilson/Risbridger while the Swarkestone boats are fighting for third, the nod just going to the O’Donnells at this stage.
The Craftinsure National Circuit and Travellers Series 2019 comprises eight events including the national Championships at a variety of open and restricted water venues on salt and fresh water culminating in the Finale at Bough Beech SC in November. As well as the major trophies the prize giving at Bough Beech will also see the prize draw with terrific prizes from generous sponsors including Craftinsure, McNamara Sails, Hartley Boats, Pinnell & Bax and Allen Brothers.
(The version of this post on the ‘Racing Results’ page includes a table of the full results).