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Ovington 2021 - ILCA 1 - LEADERBOARD

Wanderer National Championship at Whitstable Yacht Club

by Adam Wickenden 8 Jun 2016 15:38 BST 4-5 June 2016
Wanderer Inlands at Whitstable © Wanderer class

Wanderers were back yet again at Whitstable for the simple reason that it's a splendid club, challenging water, and home club for SuperWanderer veteran Gavin Barr.

Race 1 - Flopping along placidly

There was some wind from the North; not much, just enough to get the boat moving and stem the tide. Course was triangle/sausage/triangle, the start finish line set a few hundred yards upwind of the leeward mark. Starting last after the club fleets allowed the Wanderers to check what the wind was doing by watching the Whitstable Laser fleet. Well, that was the idea – it wasn't really that easy to work out what was going on. Race Officer Phil Emery had set a very generous line, and with 6 minutes to go port end looked promising. The Whitstable start sequence of 6-3-go confused a few – including me, Philip Meadowcroft's crew, in 1541. Still, the tried and tested trick of sheeting in when everyone else started to look a bit keen worked. All were clear, with most at the committee boat end. Two boats tried port end – Ian Simpson in 1004 and John Boorman in 1626. The bulk of the fleet tacked off right after the start. Meadowcroft carried on on Starboard going left – not for any tactical reason other than in the light wind tacking as little as possible to preserve speed seemed a good idea. Simpson and Boorman passed just behind him heading right. Going left did pay, as the wind backed and filled slightly, giving Meadowcroft the lead at the first mark. The wind on the first triangle was just enough to make spinnakers work, and Meadowcroft was able to pull away from Simpson, and Gavin Barr in 1282. Boorman dropped back with a leaky bailer problem – not good in light wind, but at least bailing keeps the crew busy.

Second beat: tack for the committee boat and go left again seemed the idea. Nearly worked. Ian Simpson tacked off right halfway up the beat and more than halved the distance between him and Meadowcroft. This was the moment the wind had been waiting for. It had a cunning plan – wait until the club Laser fleet had just sailed through the line and the Race Officer couldn't shorten on that lap, then slowly start to switch off. There was just enough wind to carry the spinnaker on the run, but there was a catch. At Whitstable you are not allowed to sail through the start/finish line on a run. With a fading wind and ebbing tide flowing across the course the pin mark was becoming more like the wing mark. The first three boats made it, just. The rest of the fleet had problems.

Meadowcroft rounded bottom mark in the lead. Simpson was second, but was carried onto it by tide. A quick(ish) 360 resulted, allowing Barr to close the gap.

The incoming spring tide was now becoming an issue. Meadowcroft tacked pretty much immediately for the line and promptly complains to his crew (me) that they were barely moving. "Oh yes we are moving, just not forwards. We may be in danger of hitting the committee boat – sideways!" We made it across the line – just. Meanwhile – Simpson's 360 had allowed Barr to close the gap. 2nd and 3rd was looking tight – Simpson made it, with Barr in danger of being carried past but behind the committee boat.

The wind now switched completely off. Back markers struggled to sail round the start/finish line on the run. The WYC Laser fleet parked at the windward mark and drifting gently towards Herne Bay. The Race Officer called it a day, finishing the rest of the fleets awarding positions based on where they were on the water when the winner finished and most competitors are towed home. Race 2 is thus abandoned (except Ian Simpson, who had headed in pretty much as soon as he finished and was de-rigged and changed by the time we made it back).

A very decent BBQ was served up in the courtyard at the Quayside pub on the Saturday evening and the irrepressible Gavin Barr demonstrated that breaking his femur last November had not prevented him from competing, strumming, and singing his nautical ditties to the amusement of the Wanderer fleet.

Race 3 - Follow that well-sailed local Topper... and a Wanderer ate my spinnaker

On Sunday morning there was wind, a nice 10kts or so, from the North East. The sea state was still slightly sloppy, despite the club's promise to have a word with it about its discipline. With a flooding tide the beat would be into the tide, rather than across it as it was on the previous day. Which way to go? Inshore seemed to make sense, and with the club racing (four starts of Laser, mixed handicap, catamarans, and juniors) before us, as on Saturday, there was opportunity to watch what worked.

By this time we'd all sussed out the local start system. Jonathan Musgrove crewed by Nia Crockford won the start, and tacked immediately off inshore. Ian Simpson and Meadowcroft did the same. Surprisingly, local ace Gavin Barr in 1282 carried on on Starboard to the left side. Now, not being locals, the key question for the Meadowcroft and Simpson boats was when to tack for the layline. Ian Simpson went too early. Meadowcroft decided that 'follow the locals' would work, and we tacked on the same layline as the sole Topper in the Cadet Fleet that had started three minutes before the Wanderer start. The Topper got it bang on, and so as a result did Meadowcroft, who rounded in first. Simpson was second and Musgrove third. Meadowcroft was able to pull away on the first two reaches, despite his crew having forgotten how to gybe a symmetrical spinnaker.

Bottom mark – we agreed to carry on right on port for as long as possible, but not too long before tacking again to ensure we did not overstand the committee boat before tacking back to the right to cross the line. Anything else didn't work. Gavin Barr was desperately trying different approaches to pass Ian Simpson, but it did not pay. Now there was no Topper to follow (we'd passed him on the reach). Layline judging went to pot. Both Simpson and Meadowcroft understood the mark and had to tack in. Barr appeared again from the left side of the course – but was to no avail. He was still third. So it continued until the end. A second win meant Meadowcroft won the event.

A few others had dramas: John Boorman was clearly missing his Merlin Rocket and decided to replicate the Merlin experience by going for a swim, and then being towed in. Boorman said his crew got confused as he was used to twin poles, but we didn't believe that one. (Either that or Saturday's leaky bailer had tricked him into thinking that a Wanderer needs water ballast to make it sail). Musgrove had a spinnaker rip; a big one – along the lines of 'no we don't have enough tape to fix it'. Turned out the bolts for a towing eye on the foredeck were a little too long and a little too sharp, catching the spinnaker as they pulled it up. Hint to anyone trying the spinnaker on their Wanderer for first time – check for bolts you can't see.

Race 4 - All to play for..... for second and third places

With the pressure off Meadowcroft attention was focused on Ian Simpson and Gavin Barr, with Ian gunning to win at least one race. Musgrove won the start, but with no spinnaker would be handicapped for the rest of the race. Tactics were same as last time. Go right, and follow the Topper to get the layline. Meadowcroft did just that, Simpson went too early, but was far enough in front to cross ahead, and lead round 1st mark. Meadowcroft reeled Simpson in by going low on the first reach, gaining overlap at the wing mark. Right again up the beat, with Simpson showing better upwind speed and winning a tacking duel at the windward mark, to regain the advantage, only to lose it on the next run. But Simpson and crew Dave Bardwell were on a mission and pulled out all the stops on the beat then to hold on downwind and on the short beat back to the finish. Meadowcroft and Wickenden came home second and Gavin Barr and Mark Skipper third.

This was yet another memorable Wanderer event admirably hosted by Whitstable YC, with prizes sponsored by Hartley Boats which the Wanderer Class Owners' Association greatly acknowledges.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Wanderer nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelm / CrewClubR1R3R4Pts
11541Philip Meadowcroft / Adam WickendenSalcombe YC/Henley SC11(2)2
21004Ian Simpson / Dave BardwellTudor SC(2)213
31282Gavin Barr / Mark SkipperWYC(3)336
41332Peter Heyes / Jo PhillipsWYC(5)459
51351Jonathan Musgrove / Nia CrockfordWYC(7)6410
61566Shelagh O'Riordan / Ed LambWYC4(8)711
71604Nick Hawkins / Mike JudsonWYC(RET)5813
81561Richard Maltby / John HopeWYC(8)7613
91626John Boorman / Paul FinchamWYC6(RET)DNC18
101099Paul Cross / Amanda ShaktarWYC(9)9918
11593Ian Hay / Kate AhernWYC(10)101020

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