William Cowper Dominates at West Oxfordshire
(Also published on yachtsandyachting.com)
An encouraging fleet of 21 Wayfarers from 10 clubs met up at West Oxfordshire Sailing Club on 22nd and 23rd April for the UKWA Western Area Championships 2017 and the first event of the Craftinsure National Circuit and Travellers Series. There were new faces on the circuit as well as old faces with new boats.
On Saturday the wind was from the North and a fitful 5-10 knots. The race officer used the whole of the lake for three races over a figure of 8 course. With the wind oscillating wildly 25 degrees either side of the mean, rarely were positions held comfortably for a whole race if either a shift or a stream of breeze was missed. For example, Tim Townsend and Catherine Gore found the conditions incomprehensible in the first race of the day, when they plummeted inexorably from a comfortable second place halfway through the race to finish thirteenth at the end. Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend were the only truly consistent team on the day registering 1, 2, 1 to lead overnight from Len Jones and Peter Mitchell who shared second place with Andrew Wilson and Sue Risbridger. ...read more
WOSC treated the competitors royally on Saturday night with a fish and chip supper and music from a very good live band which enticed many people onto the dance floor (including an unnamed sailor from Wilsonian SC who really should know better) for an entertaining and enjoyable evening.
“Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all its flavours” said the renowned 17th century poet, William Cowper, and certainly the champions of sailing need to be able to master a variety of conditions, including, as it turned out, the wind conditions on Sunday, which were intermittent gusts of 0-4 knots. “Enough to sail” said the locals to quizzical looks from the hardened travellers. The wind direction vacillated (“oscillated” would be too certain a term in the prevailing conditions) from East to West via the North with a consequence that three boats could, within lengths of each other on the same leg of the course and at the same time, be sailing upwind on port or starboard tacks or free on a broad reach and all pointing in the same direction.
These were trying conditions indeed, but somehow the race officer managed to achieve two more races, on a course shared with the Wanderers but only on half the lake. Clear air was a problem for all (any air was a problem for some), and again there were snakes and ladders, no more so than for Brian Lamb (fresh from his exploits on the dance floor) and Sam Pygall who at one point led the first race on Sunday by a country mile and contrived a spectacular fall from grace to finish thirteenth (“God works in mysterious ways” wrote William Cowper).
In spite of the conditions, the frustrations and the inevitable raft ups at marks of the course, the cream still rose to the top. Andrew and Sue won both races on the day, but that was not enough to topple Michael and Simon from first overall. Len and Peter continued their consistent performance to round off the top three. Also very consistent over the weekend was local sailor Richard Burton who borrowed a club boat with Hugo Burrows and exploited the conditions perfectly to win the second race on Saturday and finish fourth overall.
Thanks go to all the members of WOSC who volunteered on and off the water for making it an enjoyable weekend.
– Tim Townsend
(Results table on this page)