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Wanderer Inland Championship at West Oxfordshire Sailing Club

by Ian Simpson and Adam Wickendon 5 May 2019 18:24 BST 27-28 April 2019
Wanderer Inland Championship podium (L-R): Chris & Vicky King (third), Dave Bardwell and Ian Simpson (winners), and Jack Mann and Ron Goggin (second) © Philip Meadowcroft

The end of April should be the beginning of summer. Not so 27/28 April when the Wanderer fleet gathered for their Inlands at West Oxfordshire SC; sharing the water with a Wayfarer open meeting. Sunday was near perfect. Saturday on the other hand, thanks to the Beast from The West, Storm Hannah, was howling.

A number of welcome new faces appeared, and a couple of brand-new boats. Jack Mann's W1809, with Ron Goggin as crew, made its début from Torpoint Mosquito SC along with the latest 'all bells and whistles' Hartley Racer the interestingly coloured Bernard Taylor's W1810 helmed by Ami Hopkins and her crew. This drew lots of attention of the "What does that bit do?" kind.

So to race 1. A very strong and gusty SW wind was still blowing diagonally across the lake despite a two-hour postponement. The OOD set a quite complicated course using all the lake. No gybes though, much to the disappointment of the spectators. They would however have plenty of entertainment.

A somewhat depleted fleet took to the water. A fair number of those who did go out had reefed or cut down sails, and a number took advantage of the ability to furl or part furl the jib on a Wanderer.

They soon discovered how windy it was. The helm of W1541, Philip Meadowcroft, decided discretion was the better part of valour, and handed the stick to his crew, Adam Wickendon, with the intention of having a less uncomfortable sail round the lake from the front of the boat.

The wind was giving the committee boat a bit of a problem, too, its anchor not being able to hold despite position using the engine to keep position. As we approached the line to start the crew of one boat was heard to shout that they were over the line - to which the helm's reply was "No, the committee boat is going upwind faster than we are."

The short shifty beat was rather exciting, sailing more in turbulence than wind, with massive shifts and gusts.. There may have been numerous incidents to report, but we were all too busy just keeping upright. WOSC contrived to set traps for the unwary. One mark was in very little wind, being sheltered under the clubhouse. This tempted one of the Wayfarers to try their spinnaker. Predictably it did not end well. No one else tried. George Mitchell and Alex Bishop from Reigate Sea Cadets also ventured out, and survived most of the race, but were forced to retire before the finish.

Race 2 saw a slightly depleted fleet. W1541 decided that was enough for one day, and also retired from race 1 as the crew helmed the boat. Chris King decided to venture out in W1575, crewed by Mike Lewington (Vicky King decided discretion was the best option). This was wise, Chris did score a finish and a fourth place, but was seen spending quite a while stuck in the reeds at the far end of the lake. This was claimed to be some clever local knowledge from Mike Lewington, however we remain sceptical. At least one boat W1810 went for a swim on the first beat, W1004 helmed by Ian Simpson and crewed by Dave Bardwell, did not but filled the boat with water. W1810 recovered quickly, transom flaps draining water fast. W1004 does not have such modern details and took the whole length of the lake bailing to get the water out. After the delay, Ian and Dave managed to catch Jack and Ron at the last but one mark, where Jack and Ron unfortunately capsized.

On to Race 3. Sunday saw much nicer conditions, near perfect wind blowing nearly straight down the long rectangle that is WOSC's lake. A couple for extra boats arrived, having not made the journey the day before Lindsey Weatherly and Hilary Harvey in W1795, and Nigel and Maria Lamb in W477, Mike and Christopher Bellew in W676, plus Mike and Felicity Lewington in W1662. Full sails were the order of the day, and spinnakers were dug out of car boots and rigged. The OOD set a simpler course than Saturday.

It also appeared that the events of the previous day may have proved a little traumatic for the committee boat, as the OOD used the club line transit for the start. This resulted in a very short first beat, and the Wayfarer fleet returning through the start line with spinnakers flying as we started. The course did not offer much opportunity for place-changing though W1541 demonstrated how to drop down the procession by scraping two marker buoys and finding a space to take penalties. Ian Simpson and Jack Mann sailed away very comfortably.

Race 4 saw a slightly more port-biased start line. Chris and Vicky King in W1575 found themselves trapped above the line and were lucky to get back down before the start, although they did collect a 720. The fleet was led by the two newest boats in the fleet, W1810 and W1809.

Race 5 saw a blinding performance from Lindsey and Hillary in W1795 hard on the heels of W1810. W1004 got off to a good start but collected a 720 on the first beat resulting in being second to last at the first mark; however things improved, through dogged determination, for W1004 during the race climbing to fourth place at the start of the final lap.

However, one spinnaker hoist went rather awry for W1795, and saw them going round in circles. Not fast, the resulting wrap cost them one places immediately and allowing W1004 to close the gap. Chris and Vicky King in W1575 sailed comfortably in front of Ian Simpson and Dave Bardwell in W1004 who managed to squeeze past Lindsey and Hilary in W1795 when they sailed into a hole by the penultimate mark. Behind then followed Bob Rastrick and Paul Rogers for their best result of the weekend.

It was a solid and consistent performance by Ian Simpson and Dave Bardwell to make them worthy 2019 Wanderer Inland Champions with Jack Mann and Ron Goggin runners-up the only two Wanderers to compete in all five races. That was a tremedous achievement. And it was a great pleasure to see Chris and Vicky King on UK waters after so many years overseas and taking third place.

And, finally, hearty thanks to the members of WOSC worked so hard to provide us with such a memorable event.

Rather unfortunately, two boats, W1810 and W1707, were disqualified from the overall results because they were not sailed by WCOA members who were either helm or crew as required by WCOA Class Rules.

Overall Results:

PosBoatHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
11004Ian SimpsonDave BardwellTudor SC3223310
21809Jack MannRob GogginTorpoint Mosquito SC4332612
31575Chris KingVicky King DNS444214
41795Lindsey WeatherleyHilary HandleyCotswold SCDNCDNC58431
51416Mike BennetLesley BennettPapercourt SCDNSDNS65833
61593Bob RastrickPaul RogersFirbeck SCDNSDNS99537
71689George MitchellAlex BishopReigate Sea CadetsRETDNS106939
8676Mike BellewChristopher BellewWest Oxfordshire SCDNSRET810739
91541Philip MeadowcroftAdam WickendenSalcombe YC/ Henley SCRETDNC77DNS42
10477Nigel LambMaria LambChipstead SCDNCDNC11121047
111662Mike LewingtonFelicity LewingtonWest Oxfordshire SCDNCDNC12111149
1281Dickon BucklandNick BucklandTudor SCDNC DNC DNC DNC DNC 56
131729Mathew KellyEthanSpinnaker SCDNC DNC DNC DNC DNC 56

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