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Wayfarer International Championships at Greystones Sailing Club - Preview

by Tim Townsend 17 Jul 12:57 BST 20-26 July 2019
Action from the 2010 Wayfarer Internationals at Weymouth © Richard Langdon / Ocean Images

Who knows? I might conceivably bump into Saoirse Ronan (highly unlikely) or Reggie Corrigan (unlikely) while I'm in Greystones later this month I might visit a few cafes (likely) or bars (highly likely). (Un)fortunately I'm going to miss out on Westlife at the Whale Theatre (screened live from Croke Park) but I might catch Amelie the following day. I am going to go sailing (most definitely) and catch up with some old friends and hopefully make some new ones.

Where is Greystones and why am I going there? Greystones is a small town (but the second largest in Co Wicklow) squeezed between the Wicklow Mountains to the West and the Irish Sea to the East and lies to the south of Bray Head; a few miles north lies Dublin's fair city. Between the 20th and 26th July 2019 Greystones SC will play host to the the biggest bonanza of Wayfarer sailing in 2019. The event trebles as the Wayfarer International Championships, the UK National Championships and the Irish National Championships, attracting competitors from Canada, the USA, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and South Africa, as well as Ireland.

With so many race courses (Punchestown, Leopardstown and the Curragh) just a canter away, a look at the runners and riders seems appropriate.

The much anticipated renewed competition will be between joint favourites Mogens Just & Anders Friis from Denmark (Olympians and reigning International Champions) and Michael McNamara & Simon Townsend from the UK (reigning European and UK National Champions, multiple International Champions....but runners up to Mogens & Anders in 2016 in the Netherlands). Their most recent races have been very close and they often seem to be a class apart. Don't expect this to be a two horse race however.

From mainland UK, Andrew and Tom Wilson, who have won several of the National Circuit Series events in the last few seasons will be ones to watch especially when the going is hard as will Bill Whitney and John Shelton. Keep an eye out also for Brian Lamb and Sam Pygall and, if the going is soft to very soft, Richard Stone and Catherine Gore.

From Denmark do not discount Neils Alslev and Anders Pjetursson if the going is hard, Meike Fomsgaard and her crew if the going is soft nor Stefan Nandrup-Bus and Hans Hansen or Christian and Jorgen Iversen, all of whom raced well at the European Championships in Denmark in 2018 and may creep up on the rails to trouble the leaders. Also, there may be a late entry from former Wayfarer International Champion Peter Boje, who is happily returning to fitness after going lame shortly after the last International Championships in 2016 where he joined Mac and Mogens in the winners enclosure.

From the host Club and Country, we must not forget Monica Schaefer and Miriam McCarthy, reigning Irish Champions and also race winners at the International Championships a few years ago. Also from Ireland, do not be surprised if Margaret Hynes and Mike Hayes and Norman Lee (former GP14 Champion) and Barry Keogh have a good race.

And from the other side of the pond Rob Wierdsma (CWA Chair) is back, with Samantha as crew, hoping to improve on his Gold fleet performance in Holland. Leo and Joanne van Kampen were at the top end of Silver fleet in Holland and as recent runners up at the 2019 Canadian National Championships will be hoping their form continues to improve. Jim Heffernan (Wayfarer International Secretary) and Mark Heffernan will be representing USA and again hoping to improve on their top-end Silver fleet placing from 2016.

I would expect the race winners and the podium overall to come from the competitors listed above but there a dozen or more other teams who are capable of getting good results in individual races if their stars are aligned. Whether or not they would be consistent enough to challenge the podium remains the burning question which is why they form part of the amorphous group known as "100-1 bar".

The field is large and not just made up of the thoroughbreds. There will be some old nags too, some of them carrying additional weight, even though they insist they've been on the gallops recently! As is the custom these days the field will be split into Gold, Silver and Bronze divisions (all racing as one fleet) and for the Bronze division there will be the option of cruising for a day or two. The organisers also plan to create a buddy system where a top boat is paired up with a less experienced team to share experiences and knowledge (hopefully to the benefit of both).

It won't all be racing. A social programme is organised and there will be time to enjoys some of the attractions the Greystones area has to offer. Aside from the cafes, bars and the Theatre, there are lovely walks, cycle rides and, I mustn't forget, golf with a plethora of excellent courses nearby including Druids Glen (the "Augusta of Ireland"). I can almost guarantee that one team may forget an important bit of equipment for their sailing ("now, where did I put the boat?")....but won't forget their golf clubs.

As always, the organising authority has been putting a huge amount of time into planning the event supported by its many sponsors, including Allen Brothers, Hartley Boats, and Craftinsure from the sailing world and also by Irish Ferries, Watermark (Coffee Technology) and The Beach House, Greystones. Fingers crossed that the weather is kind, that the racing is hard but fair and that the craic will be memorable too.

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