by Sam Pygall 4 Oct 21:25 BST30 September -1 October 2023
The Wayfarer Inlands, hosted by Blithfield Sailing Club, marked a significant event in the UK Wayfarer Association Craftinsure National Series Circuit. The competition, held over the weekend of September 30th and October 1st, received generous sponsorship from Hartley Boats.
Notable teams who had already achieved podium finishes on the UK Wayfarer Crafinsure National circuit this year, such as National Champions Andrew and Tom Wilson, multiple event winners John Clementson and Mel Titmus, and Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall, joined the competition. Additionally, the fleet welcomed newcomers and Blithfield local Eden Hyland crewed by Will Gould, Dave Whittle and Chloe Craig and Louise McKeand crewed by Nigel Hall from Leigh and Lowton. Established circuit regulars like the Townsends, the O’Donnells, John Goudie, and Sam Boniface also made the journey “up north” to take part. The event also had local juniors Lara Griffiths and Oliver Green borrow the club Wayfarer and enter as well.
Blithfield Sailing Club, renowned as one of the finest inland sailing venues in the Midlands, hosted of the Wayfarers for the first time in recent memory. The anticipation among the sailors was palpable as they arrived at the club following decent journeys from across the UK and began preparing their boats, equipped with the necessary bacon cobs. The participants also received a warm welcome upon arrival from Richard Hartley, a class builder and member of Blithfield Sailing Club.
The racing began in earnest in a gentle F1-2 winds. Interestingly, the newcomers and local sailors swiftly showcased their superior inland boat speed in the initial exchanges, while the seasoned circuit regulars grappled with fatigue from their early starts. McKeand and Hall impressed everyone by securing a well-deserved victory in their maiden Circuit event. The Hartley duo followed closely in second place, with Hyland and Gould clinching the third position.
As the second race began, dark clouds rolled in, accompanied by rain. Hyland and Gould made an extraordinary start, launching themselves from the committee boat end of the line and securing a comprehensive start-to-finish win. The Wilsons finished in second place, and Clementson and Titmus claimed third. Owing to the fickle conditions brought about by the rain, the planned third race was wisely postponed, offering the fleet a chance to seek shelter at the club.
Saturday night supplied an opportunity for the sailors to unwind and socialize. A delightful hog roast and wine, sponsored by Hartley Boats, filled the evening with camaraderie. Such social events have proven to be a key aspect of successful Wayfarer fleet weekends, and have been a common feature at various venues on the Craftinsure sponsored circuit this year.
Sunday challenged the competitors with a rearranged schedule featuring three back-to-back races, initially forecasted to be held in stronger winds. The conditions, however, largely mirrored those of the previous day, albeit with a different wind direction. Clementson and Titmus, known as a formidable pair at inland venues in recent years and having achieved dominant circuit victories at Bough Beech and Datchet Water, launched their ambitious charge up the leader board, securing a comprehensive win in the first race of the day.
The teams that had performed well on the first day hotly pursued them, with Hyland and Gould taking second place and McKeand and Hall finishing third. These strong results propelled both teams into promising overall positions in their first events.
Race four unfolded in the unfortunate combination of diminishing wind and persistent rain. Undeterred, Clementson and Titmus demonstrated their Wayfarer prowess once again by claiming another bullet, a remarkable achievement considering the challenging conditions and strong competition. The Hartleys resurfaced at the front of the fleet once again, capturing second place, while Hyland and Gould continued their consistent performance with a third-place finish.
Despite the wind practically disappearing, the race committee managed to squeeze in a crucial third race of the day, which would contribute significantly to the overall standings by allowing participants to discard their worst race. Making the most of the dwindling wind, McKeand and Hall, along with Hyland and Gould, appeared as the frontrunners, rounding the top two marks. Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall joined them at the front of the fleet, marking their first appearance near the leaders during the weekend. Ultimately, the finishing order remained the same as the placings around the windward mark, with Clementson and Titmus making an impressive charge through the fleet but ultimately settling for fourth place.
Following meticulous calculations on shore, the tightly contested inland championship concluded with Eden and Will narrowly clinching the top spot in their first Wayfarer event, narrowly edging out Louise and Nigel in second place. John and Mel completed the podium, showcasing their remarkable comeback on the second day despite the unpredictable conditions.
Thanks again are due to Blithfield for laying of a high quality event, both on and off the water, delivered by a team of 13 led by Andy Watterson (and also thanks to those that had checked and stocked the bar and cut the grass ahead of the weekend).
More photos available on Blithfield SC website gallery: www.blithfield.org.uk/shared-gallery/4d389b88-7158-4004-83db-f60a6acd7bbc
The final event of the Craftinsure National Circuit will take place at Bough Beech Sailing Club for the traditional “Finale” on November 11th and 12th. This event will also coincide with the unveiling of the winners of the Crafinsure National Circuit and Travellers competitions that have been running throughout the season. Competition for the Travellers Trophy appears to be between the Wilsons, O’Donnells and Townsends while the National Circuit (counting the best three results across salt and fresh water) is contested between the Wilsons, Clementson and Titmus and Foxwell and Pygall.
Throughout all the Craftinsure National Circuit events since April and spanning Datchet, West Oxfordshire, Blackwater, Medway, Parkstone and Dabchicks, a total of 53 entries have enthusiastically taken part in the circuit, contributing to its overall success and demonstrating the versality of the Wayfarer and the strong competition throughout the fleet.
If are a club interested in hosting the Wayfarer fleet for an event in 2024, perhaps as part of another event, please do get in touch with email@example.com.
|1st||10866||Eden Hyland||Will Gould||Blithfield||1||2||2||2||7|
|2nd||10747||Louise Mckeand||Nigel Hall||Leigh & Lowton SC||1||4||3||1||9|
|3rd||11101||John Clementson||Melanie Titmus||Chipstead SC||3||1||1||4||9|
|4th||11093||Andrew Wilson||Tom Wilson||Datchet Water SC||4||2||4||4||14|
|5th||11323||Richard Hartley||Mark Hartley||Blithfield||2||6||3||5||16|
|6th||11170||lan Foxwell||Sam Pygall||Medway Yacht Club||5||6||5||3||19|
|7th||11282||Nigel O’Donnell||Dave Moore||Swarkestone SC||7||5||8||6||26|
|8th||11118||John Goudie||Sam Boniface||Wilsonian||7||9||7||8||31|
|9th||11012||Tim Townsend||Jaqueline Townsend||Medway Yacht Club||8||8||9||9||34|
|10th||11422||Dave Whittle||Chloe Craig||Whitefriars||8||10||10||10||38|
|11th||10170||Lara Griffiths (Junior)||Oliver Green (Junior)||Blithfield||11||47|