Craftinsure Wayfarer Travellers at Datchet Water © DWSC
As previewed previously, the Craftinsure Wayfarer National Circuit Series resumed on the weekend of the 15-16 April at Datchet Water Sailing Club. This was the resumption of an excellently supported series of races across both inland, estuary and coastal venues, including Parkstone YC, Medway YC, Blackwater SC and the national championship at Dabchicks Sailing Club.
A strong travelling contingent joined the home fleet to create a strong entry of 12. A reasonable start time of 1300 for the first race to allow time for travel and in some cases, new sails or new boats to be prepped. The runners and riders included several top placing teams from last year’s Wayfarer Nationals including Andrew and Tom Wilson and John Clementson and Mel Titmus plus break-out team from last year, Richard Bailey and Ian Curtis. The Townsends and the O’Donnells were also in attendance, both with high finishing positions in opens in recent years. With a dire forecast for Sunday, the race officer canvassed opinions before stating that the fleet would push for four races back-to-back to mitigate the risk of no sailing on the Sunday owing to a lack of wind.
A number of the fleet had competed in the prestigious Bough Beech Icicle Series over the winter. These teams (Clementson/Titmus, John Goudie/Sam Boniface and Ian Foxwell/Sam Pygall) set the pace in the first race of the Craftinsure sponsored event, starting in a gentle 5-8 knots over a triangle-sausage-triangle course. Despite some position changing during the race as “ladders” were sought and “snakes” avoided (particularly upwind), these teams finished in this order to put down some useful counters. The Wilsons pulled through a congested midfield to nab a handy fourth.
Race 2 started in similar conditions with a reduced size of course to increase the likely number of laps. The Wilsons and Clementson/Titmus had a tight tussle at the front this time, with Clementson/Titmus eventually prevailing. The consistent Foxwell/Pygall team scored a second 3rd place ahead of Goudie/Boniface, followed by a charging Bailey/Curtis in 5th and experienced Townsend (Tim and Jacqueline) coming through for 6th. These first two races suggested that maintaining consistency was going to prove critical for the duration of the event.
The 3rd race of the day (with wind moving increasingly from the direction of Windsor Castle) shook things up at the front. Bailey/Curtis hit the left-hand side of the first beat hard and this paid off handsomely as they established a substantial lead at the windward mark. Scott Hamilton and Derek Lambert with their respective crews also had good first beats and were in the leading pack during the first lap. Eventually the form teams of the weekend (Clementson/Titmus and the Wilsons) worked their way through the pack but not enough to catch Bailey and Curtis who held on for a well-deserved win, with the Wilsons taking the runner-up spot.
With the time limit for being on the reservoir fast approaching but with the ominous forecast for Sunday also in everyone’s minds, the race team pushed for a fourth face. On this occasion, the right-hand side of the beat paid, with the main beneficiaries being Team Wilson, Team Townsend and Goudie/Bonface, who rounded the windward mark as a triumphant trio. Local boat Nick Harris was not far behind with Foxwell/Pygall and Clementson/Titmus giving chase. These teams did work through the traffic but not sufficiently to catch the Wilsons, who triumphed for the first time during the weekend with Clementson/Titmus second. The Townsends who took a well-deserved podium in this race with two excellent beats, followed by the Foxwell/Pygall team.
This concluded Saturday’s sailing, with many of the fleet retreating to a local pub for a well earnt evening meal.
Sunday dawned and the forecast for the week was sadly proven correct, with the reservoir glass-like and not conducive for competitive dinghy racing. A quick call was made to can sailing for the day and so the results from Saturday (with a discard) became the final results.
This meant that John and Mel triumphed for the second consecutive open following their win at the Bough Beech Finale, ahead of the Wilsons in second and Foxwell and Pygall completing the podium.
It was left for John Clementson to thank the Datchet Race team and wider set of volunteers for laying an excellent weekend of sailing in challenging conditions.
Full results from the UKWA Craftinsure Travellers Open event can be found here.
The UKWA Craftinsure National Series circuit continues with upcoming open meeting at West Oxfordshire and Parkstone over the course of April and May.