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UK Wayfarer Association Neil Rushton Trophy

by Tim Townsend 1 Jun 08:53 BST
The ONE Bassenthwaite Lake Sailing Week © Peter Mackin

The UK Wayfarer Association are proud to announce the winner of the Neil Rushton Trophy 2019. Actually, it's a prize awarded at the Wayfarer Class AGM in March each year and is given to the helm who improved most during the previous calendar year. The award is in the gift of the UKWA Racing Secretary so for this year's Wayfarer helms who would like to get noticed by the Racing Secretary for all the right reasons and be in the running for the award in 2020, just what do they need to do?

Study the image. This is a photo of the 2019 winner. For convenience, let's call him Mike. What did Mike do in 2018 which made him a winner? Was it the fact that he secured his best ever performance at the National Championships? Was it the fact that he travelled to most of the Craftinsure National Circuit events and stood on the podium at a couple of them? Did he buy the Racing Secretary a cup of tea or a beer? Well, all of the above, obviously, but there were some extra aspects of Mike's performance which made him stand above the crowd in 2018. What were these? Observe the following:

  • The almost upright boat as it planes towards the camera. So much quicker than the almost horizontal;
  • The classic high elbow position on the sheet hand, demonstrating the quick trim to promote the plane;
  • The short haircut - no stray tendrils to obstruct the ears and interfere with balance or wind sense;
  • The calm and regular breathing - a man at the peak of his fitness (and possibly too athletic to race a Wayfarer!);
  • The highly polished hull in royal blue which perfectly reflects the bow wave in the late afternoon sun;
  • The inscrutable look. Mike is obviously aware of the photographer but is careful not to show it behind his polarised sunglasses and underneath his peaked cap;
  • The enigmatic look also hides Mike's innermost thoughts, his plans for next season which doubtless will involve more boat bling designed to shave a nano-second off manoeuvres. These might include twin spinnaker poles and more elastic under the foredeck than a Merlin Rocket;
  • The lips, cleverly closed to avoid swallowing the worst of the spray and waves not blocked by the crew (for convenience, let's call the crew Carl, although other crew names (and, indeed, crew) are available);
  • The overlength tiller extension enabling Mike to control the rudder from all conceivable positions, even from the centrboard;
  • Not visible in the photo but patently present on the boat, literally metres of trim strips measuring genoa sheet tension, barber position, main sheet tension, rig tension, vang tension, outhaul, cunningham, pole height, the length of the infinitely adjustable bridle and the angle of dangle of the centreboard;
  • The extra special trim strip to measure crew position ("No, Carl, I said sit this gust out to a 9, not a 7, flat is fast remember. Your knees should be a further 20mm outside the boat");
  • And is this the key to winning the most improved helm trophy? The most-long-suffering crew. Note how hard Carl is working. His left hand is carefully checking rig tension (NOT, I repeat NOT just supporting his weight) while his right is continuously trimming and re-trimming he genoa with extraordinary subtlety. His gaze is fixed upon the telltales not the photographer. His mouth is slightly ajar and his face contorted by his efforts as he waits for the inevitable collision with the approaching bow wave. His physio, who he sees every Monday, might have something to say about Carl's bent leg hiking style but he is giving it every ounce of energy he possesses. Tragically, there is no Association trophy for the most improved crew each year, but Carl is content to quietly reflect in Mike's glory while he loyally puts in the hard yards on his helm's behalf. Such is the lot of the crew of every successful helm. And while Mike collects his prizes Carl will buy the tea and unrig the boat ready for the long journey home.

So, Wayfarer helms who want to be like Mike, to improve and be in the running to win the Neil Rushton Trophy in 2020 this is the message from the UKWA Racing Secretary: "get fit, get flat, be cool, be shiny, measure and record everything that moves and above all make your crew suffer."

UKWA Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article are the unconsidered, unreconstructed, half baked ideas of the Racing Secretary alone based entirely upon an all too brief examination of the photograph and not upon any other hard evidence or research and do not in any way represent the views of the UK Wayfarer Association Executive Committee or Association members. The UKWA acknowledges that there is no I in TEAM and that all successful Wayfarer teams are an equal partnership regardless of who buys the tea or provides the motorhome and even though there isn't an annual prize for the most improved crew.

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