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Wayfarer Racing Class Development

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: Dinghy classes
Forum Name: Dinghy development
Forum Discription: The latest moves in the dinghy market
Printed Date: 09 Aug 20 at 2:49am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y -

Topic: Wayfarer Racing Class Development
Posted By: fantasia
Subject: Wayfarer Racing Class Development
Date Posted: 14 Dec 04 at 12:48pm

I have noticed from the Y&Y Racing Class Review that some traditional dinghy classes have been enjoying a resurgence over the past few years. EG.: GP14, Lark, Merlin, Scorpion, OK and Phantom.

Wayfarers have had fairly static or even declining attendances at Championship meetings for some years and I would like to know how any of you might suggest better participation.

I guess that a lot of effort from the Class Association is necessary, but can anyone give specific advice.

John H, W7628

Posted By: Adam84
Date Posted: 14 Dec 04 at 1:03pm
The wayfarer is not the most attractive of boats and is very heavy! The newer wayfarer world is a step in the right direction tho, its lighter an quicker. Boats like the GP an merlin have had lots of development recently to bring them up to date an modern. The new merlins are nothing like the original, there like a new class, and speed sails have vastly helped the development of the GP, there new FRP boats are much more up to date and appealing. Also the nationals have been at good venues such as abersoch which hepls attract more competitors.

Posted By: Stefan Lloyd
Date Posted: 14 Dec 04 at 1:26pm

The Merlin class association is extremely active. There are regular training events largely for newcomers to the class, at which the hot-shots are prepared to divulge their secrets. It is the most welcoming class I've been involved with.

It has also transformed itself from a heavyweight's to a lightweight's class over the years through rig development. This has made it more attractive to younger sailors, who tend to be lighter (before the years of ale and pies have taken their toll). This is different to the situation 10-20 years ago, when it was a fairly middle-aged class.

It has also become almost entirely an open-circuit based class. It is thriving despite the fact that there are only a handful of club fleets. That is also completely different to where it was 30 years ago.

I think there is a reaction away from manufacturer's OD classes and a growing number of people who like a boat they can customise and stamp their personality upon. I'm not saying this applies to everyone, or even most people, but enough to mean there are more Merlins being built now than for many years.

I have no idea how any of that may apply to Wayfarers. I'm afraid that despite having learned to sail in one, they have not appealed to me since. Too heavy.


Posted By: Rob.e
Date Posted: 14 Dec 04 at 4:24pm
Wayfarers have the advantage of some good  club fleets, (certainly round my way, anyway!), so people don't need to travel. The boats you mentioned actually need to travel to find fleet racing in many cases, so people make the effort. National 12's are a good example- most of the club fleets I remember have gone but there is an excellent travelling circuit, and the keen guys just have their boat on a trailer on the drive, ready for the w/end. The Wayfarer is a big heavy thing to drag around! It still seems an active class to me: how many UK boats went to the worlds? I wonder if  people are doing things like Fed week instead of the Champs? Choose a venue near home, one friendly race per day in nice surroundings, not too serious, and no bloody scrutineering! I know which I prefer.

Posted By: fantasia
Date Posted: 14 Dec 04 at 8:40pm

Wayfarers are what they are and being a One Design the boat itself cannot be developed much more. They can be heavy for some to move and launch, but there are usually plenty of others around to help. They are however no more difficult than any other dinghy to rig and trail.

Some clubs have large fleets, but as the class was also designed for training and cruising, the numbers involved in racing is sometimes limited.

60 at the Worlds in Canada this year, inc 20 from UK and nearly 50 at this years Nationals at BlackwaterSC, so perhaps not so bad. Lets aim for over 50 at next year's Nationals at HISC.

I think that the perceived problem is that there are not enough new members joining the fleet, but perhaps this is the same for a lot of dinghy classes. Thank you for some useful ideas above, any more would be welcome. Perhaps the Wayfarer is now on the cusp of changing from a club based fleet to an open circuit based fleet such as others have described. 

Posted By: Bruce Starbuck
Date Posted: 14 Dec 04 at 9:45pm

I think these classes will have many different approaches to increasing numbers, but as you rightly say, one thing they all have in common is a very active class association. The catalyst of growth for some of these classes has been a UK Worlds. The GPs had one in Abersoch, a very popular venue, and had 180 boats there. The year before, only 43 boats went to the nationals, held in Northern Ireland. 2005's big class will be the Fireballs, with their Worlds in Teignmouth. Both these classes have very competitive off-the-shelf plastic boats making up a large proportion of the fleet. Aren't the really competitive Wayfarers still wooden? This would put a lot of people off. I think it's also important to remember how big some of these classes are to begin with. They reckon that on any given weekend, there are 200 GPs racing at sailing clubs up and down the UK. It's a huge class, so that's more a challenge of mobilising existing sailors, just as much as attracting new ones.

50 Wayfarers at your nationals sounds quite healthy to me though!  Keep it up!

Posted By: gordon
Date Posted: 15 Dec 04 at 9:23am

 The Wayfarer is a large dinghy probably more suitable for sailing on the sea and larger inland waters. In this case it is competing for sailors not only with the other dinghy classes but also with small keel boats and cruisers. It is my experience that, as far as club racing is concerned, on these waters, sailors gravitate towards the keelboats and cruisers rather than the dinghies.The situation is probably very different on smaller inland waters where only dinghy sailing is possible

Relative to incomes keelboats and cruisers (especially second hand boats) have never been cheaper - hence the tendency to upsize!  Dinghy racing was probably at it's peak when cruisers were far more expensive (relative to income and when there was not the infrastructure (yacht harbours and marinas) for them

If you take a budget of around 6-7000 you could : buy a competetive almost new dinghy (Fireball, Wayfarer), new sails, and campaign it round the open circuit; buy a small keelboat like a Squib for local racing and one or two away events; buy a small ageing cruiser (an early plastic boat like a Pandora) and compete in club racing and local regattas in handicap racing (old boats  do well - look at the results of the Round the Island over the past few years). If a few club members invest in keelboats or cruisers, they are likely to create lively local racing which attracts new participants. People can remain active longer (the "grey" consumer strikes again), and these boats are perceived as more user friendly for the casual sailor (no falling in the water).

Dinghy racing is now very much a "lifestyle" option - appealing to the physically active, mobile, young (at heart) competitve elements in sailing. I feel that racing dinghies will increasingly live on their trailers. Clubs and classes should recognise this and use it to their advantage. Running events is essential (not necessarily mega-championships but friendly events for local sailors) - conventional races and special events (pursuit races, team racing, long distance races) as is organising training and coaching for juniors and adults, both beginners and "improvers" (aka all of us!). A particular emphasis should be placed on helping adult recruits to the sport make the transistion from learner to active participant.

In a club I belonged to in France the best investment the club made was to buy a few 2 and 3 boat trailers. In this way we could transport the whole fleet to open events. We only organised about 10 days formal racing a year on the club lake, however members trained throughout the winter and went, as a group, to open meetings both locally, around the country and abroad. Meanwhile the club instructor and other members were busy recruiting and training new sailors.

In conclusion - sailors will go where the action is.






Posted By: readings
Date Posted: 15 Dec 04 at 12:06pm
Bruce Starbuck asks: "Aren't the really competitive Wayfarers still wooden?"

Wooden boats are generally preferred by those racing on the Open Circuit, for whatever reason. Modern "+S" grp boats, with foam sandwich construction, are considered to compete on equal terms. The national champion, Ian Porter, sucessfully raced a +S boat this season, while his woodie was en route to Canada for the "Worlds". The prices quoted by the licensed builder for new wooden boats are prohibitive, and none have been built for more than ten years.

Posted By: gordon
Date Posted: 15 Dec 04 at 12:24pm

Would a change of rules to allow modern epoxy fillet, stitch and glue type construction encourage more builders - I believe that there is some complicated copyright problem in the class.

For a few years cold moulded wood/epoxy Dragons were faster (but twice the price!) - a recent rule change means that plastic boats are as fat if not faster.




Posted By: Stefan Lloyd
Date Posted: 15 Dec 04 at 2:42pm

Originally posted by gordon

(old boats  do well - look at the results of the Round the Island over the past few years).

Round the Island is a special case. The slowest handicap boats usually start last. That, plus the fact they are slower ,means they get much more favourable tide. In normal conditions, the fast boats are battling the tide three quarters of the way round while the slower boats will have favourable tide most of the way. Also, the fast boats start and finish early, usually in less wind, while typically the slower boats spend more time sailing in the afternoon in better breeze. The last round the island I did in a handicap class, the results were almost perfectly in reverse order of handicap.

I agree with the rest of what you wrote though.


Posted By: Calum_Reid
Date Posted: 15 Dec 04 at 7:53pm
Ian Porters crew sails at my sailing club most of the year and so i know the wooden boat (Scavenger)is something like 20 year old but is looked after very well! It looks like new!
Ian Porter and Kevan Gibb not only won the nationals but also the Worlds this may have something to do with why the succesfuly raced a +S one!


Posted By: readings
Date Posted: 29 Dec 04 at 10:48pm
Gordon writes...

"Would a change of rules to allow modern epoxy fillet, stitch and glue type construction encourage more builders - I believe that there is some complicated copyright problem in the class."

The Wayfarer copyright is held by Ian Proctor Designs, and there is currently just one licensed builder in Europe, Porter Bros of Emsworth, UK. Kit boats are no longer available. Nothing complicated, perhaps better described as tightly controlled.

Posted By: richardhaylock
Date Posted: 31 Dec 04 at 2:15pm

As a newcomer to the Wayfarer dinghy racing scene in Scotland I was somewhat dismayed to find few open racing events.

As I want to do these on a regular basis over the next three years, I am now "involved" as a volunteer with the Class Association.

And I guess that's what class development is about - volunteers with the vision and energy to promote its boat(s) and its activities. Don't know if I've got the vision or the energy but I do have the commitment.

The W is such a bargain - three boats in one - racer, cruiser, trainer on sea or pond. Don't have to keep trading up as the children get heavier, either! A family can use one for twenty years for all those purposes and still get a pretty reasonable trade-in or sale price. There aren't many other classes which offer all those possibilities.

Yes, they're heavy for one person to handle, but isn't that why we W helms have crews anyway?Wink But on the water, they're a sheer joy, burning off a lot of modern boats, even on handicap. OK, a person might feel "cool" driving a skiff or RS800, but you wont be racing them when you're 40+!

So, W sailors, come the UK Wayfarer Association AGM at the Boat Show - see what your association is doing to promote your class!


Happy New Year


W 4673

Posted By: richardhaylock
Date Posted: 06 Jan 05 at 3:42pm
Sorry, that should read Dinghy Show, Ally Pally, not Boat Show!Angry

W 4673

Posted By: Contender443
Date Posted: 06 Jan 05 at 6:39pm
Originally posted by richardhaylock

OK, a person might feel "cool" driving a skiff or RS800, but you wont be racing them when you're 40+!

Oh yes we will, being 40+ does not stop us sailing performance boats. It might even encourage us, in the same vein as buying fast bikes or sports cars!!

Bonnie Lass Contender 1764

Posted By: richardhaylock
Date Posted: 11 Jan 05 at 7:39pm


Oh yes we will, being 40+ does not stop us sailing performance boats. It might even encourage us, in the same vein as buying fast bikes or sports cars!!


Wearing one hat I'd say you either have no children or they've left home! I too have friends who equate performance machines with prolonging their "active" lives.

Wearing another hat, I'm very pleased to see that you're obviously keeping fit, as I do at 58, playing and refereeing basketball on a regular basis, since it keeps my old joints reasonably mobile! Perhaps I shouls have raised the bar to 50+ !

Perhaps we should resume this discussion when you're 60+ !:-))

Best regards

W 4673

W 4673

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 11 Jan 05 at 11:51pm
I was thinking of "trading in" my Laser4000 when I'm 60 - for a RS800.  At that age you do need the support of a piece of wire!

Posted By: Chris 249
Date Posted: 12 Jan 05 at 5:00am
Originally posted by richardhaylock

A OK, a person might feel "cool" driving a skiff or RS800, but you wont be racing them when you're 40+!

Not knocking Wayfarers or promoting skiffs or H/P classes, but a huge number of the top 18 and 12 foot skiff drivers are quite some way over 40, just like some Int. Canoe sailors and Moth guys are 50+.

Posted By: richardhaylock
Date Posted: 16 Jan 05 at 4:53pm

 OK, OK, OK!

I'm humbled and forced to eat the weed from my rudder - I had no idea there were so many fit forties/fifties/fixties still tearing around with the wings of youth strapped to their wet suit boots!

So, anyone want to come and help me hike my W flat in a six? I can see the benefit of a piece of wire to help reduce the pain in the thighs!

Happy New Year, all, and any W sailors out there who read the 1st message in this thread please do make any sensible suggestions which could filter their way to the UKWA

W 4673

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