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Home / Racing / Wayfarer Racing in 2024 / Wayfarer National Championship at Paignton Sailing Club, part of the Craftinsure National Circuit
Home / Racing / Wayfarer Racing in 2024 / Wayfarer National Championship at Paignton Sailing Club, part of the Craftinsure National Circuit

Wayfarer National Championship at Paignton Sailing Club, part of the Craftinsure National Circuit

**STOP PRESS - congratulations to Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend on regaining the National Championship title at Paignton recently**

Paignton Sailing Club were the excellent hosts of the Wayfarer Nationals this year, with generous sponsorship from Craftinsure, McNamara Sails, Hartley Boats, and Allen Brothers, over the 13-16th June in the fantastic sailing area of Torbay.

The fleet consisted of 13 boats from a wide range various clubs such as Datchet, Aldeburgh, Swarkestone, Walton and Frinton, Chipstead, Rollesby Broad and Bough Beech. Numbers were down this year for various reasons, but the championship was still competitive with many of the event winners, national champions and national circuit of recent seasons taking part, including defending National Champions Andrew and Tom Wilson, multiple international and national champions Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend and 2023 Craftinsure National Circuit Champions John Clementson and Mel Titmus.

Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild

With many of the team's journeying down to a fantastic UK sailing venue on the Wednesday, there was palpable excitement and anticipation in the dinghy park as the boats arrived after some long drives from across the country. Sadly, this excitement needed to be contained for 24 hours as Thursday saw some strong winds and an early decision was made to cancel for the day. This allowed the competitors to enjoy the local sights and sounds including mini golf participation and a steam engine ride. The fleet re-grouped in the Club house in time for an excellent Commodore's reception which allowed plenty of pre-event chatter and socialising with the Contender fleet.

Friday saw the racing begin in earnest a building offshore breeze of around Force 3-4 with stronger gusts becoming more frequent as the day progressed. Considering the previous day's cancellation of racing, the fleet skipped the practice race having lost a day of the championship already. As a result, the highly prized Idler's Bucket for the winner of the practice race remained unawarded this year. Following some close racing across the fleet in the tough conditions past a keenly contested start, the eventual winners of race 1 were defending champions from 2023, Andrew and Tom Wilson after a tight battle with Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend, demonstrating some obvious boat-speed on all points of sail and interest in re-gaining their title. Recent Shoreham open winners Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall came home 3rd. These podium positions were repeated in race 2 with Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall showing consistent form in the early part of the regatta to take two third places.

Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild

In the third and final race of the day, McNamara and Townsend fought back and kept their championship alive with a well-deserved win having led from the start of the race. After a closely fought battle behind, Simon and Rupert Sydenham made a first appearance on the podium by charging through to take second. Form team of the first day, Andrew and Tom Wilson, experienced a capsize on the last leg that unfortunately resulted in an injury to Andrew. Foxwell and Pygall sneaked through to take a third 3rd place of the day and so the top three at the end of day one was McNamara/Townsend, the Wilsons and Foxwell/Pygall.

Saturday saw a two-hour postponement to allow the wind to settle and make a determination on steady-state wind strength but an eventual 1230 start saw a reduced fleet after an insanely windy 30 knot breeze blew through before the start. Two races were held with the reduced fleet and McNamara and Townsend showed majestic skill in the challenging conditions and took two bullets and a grip on the event overall. Rescue boat footage confirmed that a Wayfarer can indeed travel the same speed as a Contender downwind in certain conditions. Foxwell and Pygall took a hard fought second place in the first race of the day and fourth of the championship before gear failure saw an end of their day. Team Sydenham had a consistent day with a third and a second and credit to Tim Wood and Sarah Elliott and Derek Lambert and Sue Risbridger on participating in very challenging conditions to take some handy points. Testament to this was the depleted entry to the International 14 Prince of Wales Cup taking place at Torquay across the bay and depleted entry for the Isle of Wight Round the Island race. Following the conclusion of the day's sailing, the fleet joined back up together for an excellent meal at the neighbouring restaurant for pizzas.

Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild

The regatta concluded on Sunday with the best conditions of the week which were still breezy in the F3-4 range with occasional stronger gusts that provided a test of boat handling. The wind direction remained unaltered but in the lighter winds, reading and responding to shifts became critical. McNamara and Townsend sealed the championship with a bullet in the first race of the day and sixth race overall, chased hard by the familiar front-running teams of Foxwell and Pygall and the Wilsons who had returned to the arena. This made the stage interesting for the overall standings. Race seven involved multiple place changes amongst the top teams but the final order at the end was McNamara and Townsend taking another victory to complete a remarkable run of victories, chased hard in a blank finish between Team Sydenham and Foxwell/Pygall who finished in that order.

The last race of the championship was the usual keenly contested event in a building breeze. This time around McNamara and Townsend got unusually buried at the start and were not at the front at the windward mark. Instead, 2015 National Champion Guy Marks, crewed by Sam Boniface, stormed off into a commanding lead and held off the charge of heavier teams for the majority of the next three laps. Adopting a "win or swim" mentality of Aussie Skiffs in Auckland harbour circa mid-90s, they flew the kite on all legs like a Top Gun Jet Fighter team while being chased hard until the penultimate leg of the race. Eventually a gutsy Team Wilson overcame Marks/Boniface and hold off a charging McNamara and Townsend to end their regatta with a well-deserved win. Marks/Boniface were rewarded for their heroics with a creditable 3rd place in last race. Mention should also go to John Clementson and Mel Titmus who, despite spinnaker sheet damage early in the day, recorded a 4-4-4 scoreline to push them up the overall rankings for the event.

Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Tom Wild

After three days of intense racing, the final rankings were calculated and saw McNamara/Townsend re-claim claim the title of national champions with a demonstration of formidable heavy weather boat handling and out of this world three sail reaching ability. The consistency of Foxwell/Pygall paid off in the overall standings as they claimed second, followed by the Wilsons in third. First silver fleet was won by Team Sydenham from Aldeburgh and first bronze was secured by the circuit newcomers Tim Wood and Sarah Elliott.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelm NameCrew NameClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1st11321Michael McNamaraSimon TownsendRollesby Broad SC221111127
2nd11170Ian FoxwellSam PygallBough Beach SC3332(1423516
3rd11093Andrew WilsonTom WilsonDatchet SC116(14(1435117
4th10776Simon SydenhamRupert SydenhamAldeburgh YC6523282620
5th11101John ClementsonMelanie TitmusChipstead SC475(14(1444428
6th11120Guy MarksSam BonifaceBough Beach SC844(14(1476332
7th11448Timothy WoodSarah ElliottWalton & Frinton YC7884358734
8th10828Derek LambertSue RisbridgerDatchet SC11(1475(141291054
9th11398Richard BaileyIan CurtisRSBC56(14(1414971455
10th11012Tim TownsendJacqueline TownsendMedway YC9(14(141414610861
11th10601Jamie WheatleyWendy WheatleyAldeburgh YC12(14(1414141011970
12th11458Nigel O'DonnellBelinda O'DonnellSwarkestone SC10(14(14141411141477
13th11129Paul HughesCam HughesAran YC(14(1414141414141484

Other prize winners included the following:

  • Pork Pie Perpetual - First Female Crew - Mel Titmus
  • Best Newcomer - Tim Wood and Sarah Elliott
  • First Club Team - Bough Beech Sailing Club
  • Pert Platter - First Husband and Wife Team - Tim and Jacqueline Townsend

Michael McNamara & Simon Townsend win the Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Nigel O'Donnell
Michael McNamara & Simon Townsend win the Wayfarer Nationals 2024 at Paignton - photo © Nigel O'Donnell

The UK Wayfarer Association would like to thank Nick Ripley and his race team at Paignton Sailing Club for fantastic race management and to the great Paignton sailing offshore team who ran an excellent social programme. Paignton really laid on a first-rate championship and would get a hearty recommendation as a Championship venue for other fleets. Congratulations to Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend on re-gaining the National championship title but also a spirited defence of their title from Andrew and Tom Wilson. A truly outstanding display on boat handling but also remarkable three sail reaching ability which is unsurpassed.

The Wayfarer fleet will enjoy a summer break now before the National Circuit resumes with a double header of events at Arun (27-28 July) and Aldeburgh (3-4 August) and Poole Week at Parkstone Yacht Club (25-30 August). Hope to see you there!

Last updated 09:23 on 23 June 2024

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