The Wayfarer Eastern Area Championship took place at Waldringfield Sailing Club in Suffolk over the weekend of 28/29 July. A week before the event the organisers had been worried that there would be no wind. However, there was no need to worry about that because after six weeks of hot sun and medium to no wind the forecast was for force 5 with gusts up to force 7 for the Saturday and more on the Sunday! ...read more
As promised race one winds were a good force 5 gusting 7 and by the end of the race Brian Lamb and Sam Pygall (W11170) managed to wriggle through to third place with Roger Challis and Mark Johnston holding second place and the Wilsons remaining in the lead. The weather resulted in only 10 of the 17 entrants starting the race and only 8 finishing, with 2 capsizes.
Race 2 started back-to-back and to the delight of everybody the winds were slowly increasing, especially the gusts! Roger Challis and Mark Johnston got the perfect start being only inches away from the Committee boat. Their lead was quickly taken by the Wilsons who were able to point extremely high, forcing Roger Challis and Mark Johnston to tack off and lose first place. Brain Lamb and Sam Pygall were close behind with very close racing taking place on the beats going through “The Rocks”. Competitors quickly learnt that avoiding the relatively short tacks to stay out of the tide as much as possible did not pay off with one mistake losing one or more places.
By the end of the race wind speeds were at the very top of force 5 and into 6 with gusts of force 7 and bottom end of 8. Race 2 only had 6 competitors finish and the rescue boats were again kept busy with capsizes.
Before Race 3 there was a well-earned break where the Race Officer canvassed views on what to do for Race 3. The decision was to give it a go and because of the more extreme forecast for Sunday hold 2 short races rather than the single one on the programme. Eight boats made the water for the 3rd race with some turning back almost straight away. The wind was now a lower force 6 gusting 8 with the tide having turned, so there was wind against tide, making sea conditions very rough and short. All the competitors that got to the race area saw the conditions and headed back home before the Race Officer had a chance to declare the race abandoned. There were no casualties getting back and everybody had earned the extremely delicious BBQ they would get in the evening.
On the Sunday morning the weather was as predicted, and a decision was made to have two races back-to-back. As the race started the wind was just touching a force 6 but although the gusts were a good 7 they did not feel quite as bad as the previous day. A total of 7 boats set out to race including Liz Feibusch and Will Cleverley (W11000) with cut-down sails. The Wilsons started in the lead with Roger Challis and Mark Johnston hot on their tail. This time Roger Challis and Mark Johnston managed to hold onto the Wilsons for a large part of the first beat before the Wilsons again pulled away. Going into the windward mark the Wilsons appeared to have severely misjudged the transit line so Roger Challis and Mark Johnston took the opportunity to tack for the mark much earlier only to find themselves sail into a large hole. Perhaps the Wilsons had not made a mistake! This resulted in Roger and Mark losing a lot of ground against Matthew Lake/Rachel Parkinson and Brian Lamb/Sam Pygall, with Roger and Mark then having to do a turn as they clipped the mark. This resulted in Matthew/Rachel and Brian/Sam moving into second and third place before Roger and Mark regained second place on the reach.
The positions remained the same with the Wilsons and Roger/Mark having considerable gaps between themselves and the next competitors until the leg before the penultimate leg where a huge gust came through just as Roger and Mark needed to gybe which they knew they would not survive. Instead they tried to drop the spinnaker which proved to be difficult and ended up on the Deben mud watching Brian/Sam and Matthew/Rachel sail by. Finishing position were 1st the Wilsons, 2nd Brian Lamb/Sam Pygall, 3rd Matthew Lake/Rachel Parkinson and 4th Roger Challis/Mark Johnston. Liz and Will came in 7th, meaning that Liz won the First Lady Helm award.
The Race Officer was intending to do the 4th race but less than a minute after finishing more big gusts came through resulting in Matthew/Rachel and Roger/Mark capsizing. With the sudden increase in wind and gust strength the Race Officer decided to cancel further racing. A very good decision as gusts were now up to force 8!
Final positions for the competition are given in the version of this report in the Racing Results section of the website – it is good to see that three different clubs were in the first 3 positions.