Please select your home edition
GJW 2018 728x90

West Lancashire Yacht Club 24 Hour Race

by Alex Halliwell 11 Sep 2018 06:35 BST 8-9 September 2018

An increased entry of seventy-seven teams braved the 52nd edition of this marathon dinghy race. This included entries from 55 different clubs and 12 university teams (which was the highest for many years).

Despite forecasts of strong winds and torrential rain Saturday dawned cool, grey and rainy, but without the stiff breeze which had been forecast. Competitors nervously waited for the breeze to come as they tried to finalise team running orders whilst continuing to check the forecast. Just before the start it seemed the wind was finally on it s way as it swung and built to a force 3.

As the countdown to the start at midday got underway it became clear some teams had left it a little late to launch and were unfortunately caught out by going through the out of bounds area in the final 5 minutes before the start. This meant sadly they incurred quarter lap penalties. Perhaps they were a little too bleary eyed to read the sailing instructions after enjoying the legendary party in the marquee on Friday night, featuring 24 Hour Race favourites, the band 'Elephant Juice' and Steve Blackburn's disco.

As the fleet started the wind began to drop and it was the GP of Budworth SC A team which stormed off the start to complete the fastest first two laps of the race and win the Radio Merseyside Cup. The boats in the leading pack were looking round for boat number 1 which was not in there and the sailors were starting to wonder what had happened to the dominant GP of the South Staffs A team. Perhaps this was not going to be their year? Did they forget to check for weed? Were they going to let South Staffs B in the lark beat them? But I think perhaps they were toying with us; as after around 6 laps they put their foot on the accelerator pedal and began their challenge for the lead.

As the afternoon wore on the wind continued to drop and the rain eventually stopped, much to the relief of everyone. But this was not the forecast, where were the 14 knots + which were being promised on all the different websites? In fact the wind dropped so much the boats were almost drifting round with some falling foul of the weed on their centreboards which stopped them completely. A big thank you to Sefton Council who have assisted us by topping up the lake with salt water to help reduce the high levels of weed which we had early this summer. What was going to happen next? Where was the wind?

As the afternoon and evening wore on the GP14s dominated the top positions with 2 Larks and a couple of enterprises making the most of the shifty conditions. The GP of Budworth SC B Masters team took the fastest lap at 8pm winning the dusk race. As the sailors tried to get some sleep in preparation for their night shifts the wind was up and down and the rain was on and off with some more heavy showers. But not what was forecast.

New to the race this year were the SailRacer GPS trackers, which were used to show the exact position of each boat on the course, as a bird's eye view. The results of which were displayed on a large screen in the clubhouse. It was also possible to view the race online, in real time, from the comfort of your own team HQ, tent or home. The data produced by these trackers will provide useful data for teams to analyse their performance. We would like to thank GJW Direct, Allen Brothers and Precision Yacht Paint for their support as we continue to bring the race into the 21st Century.

As dawn came on Sunday it revealed a light breeze which appeared to be once again dying. Perhaps the big breeze forecast for Sunday would fail to materialise and all thoughts of this being the first big wind race since the nineteen nineties began to fade. The enterprise of Glossop SC A took the dawn race at 6am and the GP14 of Midland SC A was enjoying the conditions and completed the fastest lap at 8am. But this is not known as an endurance race for dinghies without reason and the 'fat lady had not sung' at 8:30am the breeze truly kicked in giving sailors a rather rude and for some wet awakening.

Gusts of 20+ knots came rattling in from the south making the long run down to A mark particularly hazardous and several gybes were needed to make it to the other end. It was what the spectators were waiting for as teams had to take the gybe mark in front of the grandstand. The rescue teams kicked into action providing support to tired sailors and tired boats.

The Heineken Cup for the fastest lap by an all lady crew at 10am was won by the GP of South Staffs C team in testing conditions. Places started to change in the top 10 with many teams having an unscheduled swim or suffering gear failure. Teams had to wait until prize giving to find out exactly where they had finished, with some opting to wait to cross the finish line at midday so they wouldn't have to complete another risky lap.

So who were the eventual winners this year?

  • Allen Brothers provided a voucher for £120 of deck ware: West Oxfordshire SC
  • Marlow Ropes 3 hanks of rope: Leigh & Lowton SC
  • Special prize for last place: Liverpool YC B (76th)
  • The most identifiable boat: Lancaster University, this year the theme was Christmas (48th)
  • The Mersey Tiller (1st uni Ent): Plymouth University B (40th)
  • The Porter Trophy (fastest 50th lap): National Firefly Assoc (32nd)
  • The Yorkshire Cup: Ulley SC (30th)
  • Kicking Strap (clubs from 100 miles+): Cambridge University CRC (25th)
  • GJW Direct Trophy (1st Firefly): West Oxfordshire SC A (23rd)
  • Pilkington Cup (3rd Ent): Leigh & Lowton SC A (19th)
  • Hayward Cup: (1st uni) Manulife Trophy: Plymouth University A (17th)
  • PaperCourt Trophy (2nd Ent): Glossop SC (15th)

Flight winners:

  • Flight 7 - Cambridge University (25th)
  • Flight 6 - Winsford Flash SC (14th)
  • Flight 5 - Ulley SC (30th)
  • Flight 4 - South Staffs SC E
  • Flight 3 - South Staffs SC C
  • Flight 2 - Glossop SC A
  • Flight 1 - Budworth SC B

Overall Results: (top ten)

1st South Staffs SC A GP
2nd Bolton SC A GP
3rd Budworth SC A GP
4th South Staffs SC B Lark
5th Staunton Harold SC GP
6th Midland SC A GP
7th West Lancs YC A Ent
8th West Lancs YC B GP
9th Budworth SC B & Masters GP
10th Chase SC A GP

Apologies, if I have missed your club off this long list of winners.

South Staffs SC A team in a GP are showing they are the club to beat, winning 6 years in succession and 8 times in total. They had 5 teams in total with 3 inside the top 12. This is quite an achievement! Perhaps your club can use the data from the trackers to create a team performance to knock South Staffs off their pedestal. If you start training now it could be your club next year...

This year a team from Cumbria Youth sailed the race to raise money for the Andrew Simpson Foundation in memory of their friend Holly. Their JustGiving page can be found here.

Now the race is done for 2018 West Lancashire Yacht Club would like to thank all the clubs for their support and all their members and friends of the club who gave up their time and great energy in order to run this monster of an event. We couldn't do it without you. We would also like to thank our sponsors including Marine Supplies Direct, GJW Direct, Robinson's Brewery & The Waterfront (Bliss Hotels), Monkeys Fist Sailing, Precision Yacht Paints, 1st Mark Chandlery, Allen Brothers, Tim Harper, Marlow Ropes, Unipart Dorman, TEU Containers & Oakhurst for their help. Without our sponsors it would not be possible to run such an event.

Put the date in your diary now for the 53rd race, which will be held over the weekend of 14th and 15th September 2019.

To find out more about the race go to or relive this year's race on the WLYC 24Hour Race Face book page or our Twitter page. Paul Hargreaves has also taken some amazing photos of the event which can be found here.

See you all next year!

Related Articles

West Lancs YC 24 Hour Race preview
"We have fun and that's what sailing is all about" Want to develop some community cohesion whilst having fun sailing? Build links between groups of members? Create a genuine feeling of inclusion at your club? Posted on 19 Apr
RC Laser TT at West Lancs
Northern District Open With a somewhat favourable forecast and a gentle breeze from the East, it was with excitement to whether we were going to get a bumper crop entry for Sunday's TT at Southport. Posted on 11 Apr
RC Laser & DF95 Winter Series at Southport overall
First time a 'D' rig on a DragonForce has been seen Stormy weather all week with winds hitting over 40mph for some part of every day, would it settle down by Sunday for the last of the series. Posted on 27 Mar
RC Lasers and DF65s at Southport
Two years use for a rudder servo calls for replacement As quick as that and one week on were back to Southport. The drive in along the bouncy promenade road shouldn't be taken too quickly and certainly not straight after breakfast. Posted on 4 Mar
RC Lasers and DF95s at Southport
Trying not to complain about the blinding sun The early morning fog and the mist on the lake was soon burnt off from the continued spell of sunshine that we had been having over the last part of the week. You couldn't really believe that we were still in February. Posted on 25 Feb
RC Lasers and DF65s at Southport
The day begins with almost no wind at all Could it be any worse than our last outing when we barely had more than a breath of wind? Alan's Laser was put to water after he had set a shortened promising course, but the craft was refusing to move. Posted on 22 Jan
RC Lasers at Southport
Some skippers have defected to the Dragon Flight 95 Just for a change, the 2019 sailing schedule had a few changes for the Winter series. The Dragon Flight 95 was to be included in alternate race days with the smaller DF65. Many at Southport have the bigger boat so it seemed a logical addition. Posted on 10 Jan
RC Lasers at Southport
Sharing the lake with a convoy of surfboard-paddling Santas Southport was our venue for the concluding part on the early winter RC Laser Northern series. With the best of three results to qualify, a number of skippers were still out to fill that last place or try and better the results they already had. Posted on 19 Dec 2018
RC Lasers at Southport
Concentration was beginning to fade on the long races One week on and we were into round two of the Northern series across the Ribble into Southport. No fun runs, no cycle races or airshows and noticeably no wind. Well if anything it looked like it was going to be a calm day. Posted on 15 Oct 2018
Larks at the West Lancs 24 Hour Race
Capsizes reshuiffle the leaderboard The 2018 West Lancs. Yacht Club 24 Hour Race took place over 8/9 September. It was superbly organised and was massive for a 'traditional dinghy' event, with 77 entries and around 1,000 participants. Posted on 18 Sep 2018