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About the Wayfarer as a Racing Boat

The Wayfarer continues to excel as an all-round, all-weather racing dinghy equally at home crawling along a river bank, smashing to windward in a bit of a sea, or screaming across a reservoir, the powerful spinnaker keeping its crew on their toes. The boat is not overly sensitive to crew weight; lighter crews can often make up in finesse what heavier crews might gain in power. Even the age of the boat is not that much of an issue, the strength of the boat and careful control of hull shape over the years has ensured that even some of the older (but lovingly maintained) boats still win championship events and open meetings. The Wayfarer keeps going well even in light weather, often beating so called fast handicap boats over the water in a variety of conditions. Sails can be cut to suit various crew weights and there are enough sail controls in the boat to ensure the rig can be powerful in all wind conditions.Together with this all-round versatility has grown a friendly camaraderie amongst Wayfarer sailors wherever they might be. Continually comparing notes with each other on shore but competitive on the water, each event, whether it be at club or championship level is sure to be enjoyable and rewarding. Above all with Wayfarers, there is always something to learn, and little chance for boredom to set in.

The Racing Programme

How many classes can put together such a varied and entertaining programme? Within the Racing Programme and at the clubs in the Wayfarer Fleet List you will find a huge variety of sailing conditions and standards of sailing. For newcomers the wayfarer fleet list is a handy guide as to where one might find good racing and good company. For nothing is more satisfying than sailing boat to boat with other Wayfarers and then comparing notes afterwards in the convivial surroundings of the clubhouse. After a period of perhaps being at the back of the fleet and seeing only transoms, followed later by sparring at the back or the middle of the fleet, one might find one's natural level and appear not to be able to improve further. At the same time, knowledge will be being picked up about the Racing Rules of Sailing and maybe some bitter experiences of making 360 or 720 degree penalty turns as lessons are learned. Now is the time perhaps to try sailing in different waters with different competition. Take a look at the Events Calendar, hire a gardener, leave all the jobs at home until the winter, take on a live-in nanny and sample some of the open meetings and regattas listed. It will probably be a revelation to see how other Wayfarers are rigged and sailed and it is highly likely that on returning to regular club racing one's position in the pecking order will have improved. During this time, it is essential to keep one's boat seaworthy and measured properly as a wayfarer.  Look at the website section on Measurement and have your boat checked out. Apart from ensuring your boat meets essential buoyancy standards you might well learn something in the 'go faster' department (eg your boat is 25 kilos overweight!)

Having sailed a few open meetings and and getting quite confident with good boat control, now is the time time to try some championship meetings. Look at the Racing Events Calendar again and also the Notices of Races and Entry Forms. You will see Easterns, Westerns, Southerns, Inlands and National Championships held every year at changing venues. These championships proceed in three-year cycles working towards and culminating in the third year when International Championships are held. As last year was the the International Championships in Ireland, this year becomes the first year of a new three-year cycle building up to the next International Championships in Canada in 2004. So this year is a great year to go sailing, experiment with different ideas, so that by the end of the season the boat is really starting to motor. Next year is a qualifying year for the International Championships to decide who goes to Canada, so by then the boat should really be going at its maximum speed and in the right direction! To provide additional encouragement some of the events have prizes for first husband and wife team, first lady helm, most improved helm, most successful 'senior' crew and first junior helm to name but a few.

Check-List for Racing

To be eligible to race, any of the Wayfarer versions or 'marks' may be entered. These comprise Mark 1 Wood, Mark II, Mark II+S, GRP and the Wayfarer 'World'*. Please remember that you must have a valid measurement certificate (in some cases, see Measurement pages - Ed). Always read the notice of race and racing instructions in plenty of time! Always check the insurance requirements, especially your third party liability. Sometimes towlines, paddles, anchors, compass or other safety equipment are required. The racing instructions will also specify any special code flags and course information and any modifications to normal racing rules. It is easier to study all this beforehand! Ensure that you are properly clothed and not just for the hot balmy launching conditions, but also for the sea breeze or showery conditions which could ensue. Ensure your buoyancy aid is in good condition. Finally check out that all fixed rigging is securely attached and running rigging is correct. Take drinks and snacks to suit the amount of time you could be on the water - remember that even short but intense races can cause a thirst that can spoil concentration! * Mk1 grp, Mk4 etc too - Ed

Boat Preparation

Part of the fun of Wayfarer racing for a lot of people is not just the sailing or social side but also in tinkering with the boat trying to improve sail controls to ensure that every aspect of spinnaker handling or sail trimming works on demand and in all conditions. For newcomers there are articles on how to set up the mast properly in the boat. This aspect is so critical but so often neglected and getting mast settings right makes a huge difference to boat speed and balance. Equally important but often much more neglected is the condition of the hull and especially the smoothness and fairness of the rudder and centreboard. Last but not least a good set of sails suitable for your crew weight is essential, though they don't have have to be brand new unless you are already trying compete at the top level.


Check out training activities within your local fleet - often there are evening talks and practical sessions. Club racing is an ideal time to check out spinnaker drills and also, but not necessarily following from this, capsize drills! Similarly starting practice, buoy rounding, use of the racing rules, maximising boat speed on all points of sail can all be practised in the local fleet before trying the skills learned at a higher level. From time to time more advanced sessions are held at a national level and these are ideal opportunities to refine skills and knowledge. Check the Racing Events Calendar for details of upcoming training events.

Towing and Getting to Open Meetings

Being well organised for towing makes going to open meetings and championship events so much more pleasurable and saves so much more time for relaxed race preparation and 'apres-sail' lubrication and chin wagging. Towing behind most modern vehicles is really easy. A good combination trolley trailer is essential together with a lighting set that works. The lighting set can be easily attached to the transom, possibly by the rudder fixings on the transom with sufficient padding to avoid damage. Ensure all the gear and boat is well fixed down in a quick systematic, reusable method, not random lashings everywhere. Ensure the trailer is nicely balanced with a modicum of downforce at the towing hitch. Check the wheels are greased regularly and tyre pressures monitored - trailers are too easily neglected. Trailing to meetings abroad is not getting easier with improved roads and faster ferries, but check out different methods of getting discounted fares.

Sources of Information

The events calendar includes contact e-mail addresses as well as telephone numbers. Also useful are the rapidly increasing quantity and quality of club websites. For those who prefer the printed word - please refer to Wayfarer News were we summarise all the updated plans review completed activities. There is a lot of information, reflecting the wealth of activity within the Wayfarer fleet. so stay up to date and above all enjoy your Wayfaring!!

Ray Scragg

Last updated 18:56 on 22 April 2024

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