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Craftinsure 2012

Wayfarer Southern Area Championship at Datchet Water this weekend

by Tim Townsend 6 Sep 2017 18:19 BST 9-10 September 2017
The Wayfarer Class travelling circus is set for Datchet Water this weekend © Moscow State Circus

This weekend it is the turn of Datchet Water SC to provide the Big Top for the Wayfarer Class travelling circus, to provide the arena in which the strong men, the jugglers, the acrobats and the clowns will perform as they compete in the sixth event of the Craftinsure National Circuit and Travellers Series 2017.

To the famous sound of the Entrance of the Gladiators, the fleet will come together knowing that points are tight at the top of the standings and that every point this weekend is important. Who are these performers? These will be the headline acts.

  • The Ringmaster: After a summer away from the Wayfarer following his success at the National Championship in June, this must be Michael McNamara, crewed, as ever, by Simon Townsend. They are unbeaten this year, but on the edge of the leader board because they have only performed a couple of times. A third win will take them straight to the (big) top.

  • The Puppeteer: Andrew Wilson and his son Tom (or occasionally Sue Risbridger) have performed in this tent before. It is (if this doesn't sound a bit odd) his home tent and Andrew is used to the vagaries of its winds, using all his skills to finish races in strong positions. Andrew and Tom were consistent and fast at the last event, winning the Eastern Area Championships comfortably.

  • The Tightrope Walker: Len Jones is the very embodiment of Newton's third law ("for every action there is an equal, and opposite, reaction"). Equilibrium is the intersection of action and reaction. Equilibrium is what the expert tight rope walker needs in abundance. Len and his crew (Jamie Lea, on this occasion) is one of the fastest performers in the circus and has won as many races this year as any. He won the Inland Championship earlier in the year. However, his performance is sometimes marred by a loss of equilibrium...

  • The Fire Breather: may be it's just me. Sometimes I'm fortunate enough to be ahead of some of the top acts on the race course. Bill Whitney, sometimes crewed by wife Lisa, and sometimes by John Shelton, is relentless in his pursuit of the perfect performance. When Bill is behind me I feel the fire of his breath on my neck as he pursues me around the course, waiting to pounce on my mistake. His is one of the most consistent acts, and one to watch.

It would be reasonable to expect this weekend's winner to come from one of these headliners. There are many other acts however, some local artists and some trying out their skills in this tent for the first time. Watch out for the famous Acro Dancer (he has been seen on the dance floor more than once this year) and has performed well at the Cirque Datchet many times; be amazed by the tumblers and the escapologists, and, of course, laugh at the clowns.

The wind forecast is for a force 4-5 on Saturday, and a force 3-4 on Sunday so there's bound to be plenty of thrills and spills and, almost inevitably, a loss of equilibrium.