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Wayfarer Eastern Area Championship at Blackwater Sailing Club

by Sam Pygall 13 Sep 06:55 BST 10-11 September 2022
Wayfarer Eastern Championship at Blackwater © Zoe Nelson

Following a highly successful European and National Championships held on the south coast at Arun Yacht Club in August, the Craftinsure Wayfarer National Circuit resumed over the weekend of the 10-11th September where Blackwater Sailing Club held the Eastern Championship, a joint open meeting with the Snipe fleet.

The competitors consisted of an excellent turnout of 15 boats, with a strong local fleet of 9 locals joined by 6 stalwarts of the National Circuit including Andrew and Tom Wilson, the O'Donnells and the Townsends.

Following a very moving and respectful tribute led by the home club to mark the life and reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the championship got under way on the Saturday under the guidance of the crack Blackwater race team of Dave Hall and Andy Pickering. The wind was mainly from the west with a reasonably consistent strength of 8 to 14 knots. Straight out of the blocks were Team Wilson who showed the rest of the fleet the way round the course with superior boat speed on all points of sail, followed by the Medway Yacht Club duo of Mark Lee and Sam Pygall and the Townsends. All these boats have demonstrated some form at the recent Nationals and so first blood to the visitors! This was not to last.

Race 2 commenced in similar conditions but with the direction shifting slightly necessitating some mark re-arrangement by the Race Team. The Wilsons continued to demonstrate a potent combination of strong starting, a good first beat and then unmatched speed downwind to maintain a perfect start to the weekend. As an indicator of things to come, the local team of Steve Perkins and Martyn Hare showed some canny skills downwind to finish in second with the Lee/Pygall team slipping to 3rd having recovered some places post a particularly congested leeward mark.

The last race of the day was held in the softest (and softening wind). Some new names at the front of the fleet saw Quentin Strauss and Sarah Burgess and local boat Daniel Dixon and Graham Hoy call the second beat with great skill to pop around ahead of dominant Wilsons. Unfortunately for the Strauss/Burgess team they had to be satisfied with a 2nd as the Wilsons were able to round the last leeward mark ahead of the finish with slightly more momentum to pinch the line honours and finish the day with a perfect score. Dixon/Hoy held on to 3rd, with Lee/Pygall finish 4th ahead of the charging O'Donnell team who were beginning to find their form. Overnight, the Wilsons led from Lee/Pygall with Strauss/Burgess in 3rd.

Sunday dawned and promised to bring some different conditions both in terms of wind direction (more from the East/South) and strength (5-8 knots) to challenge the fleet. Local knowledge paid handsomely in race 4 as Perkins/Hare and Dixon/Hoy (joined by the Townsends) hit the left-hand corner and found themselves well clear at the windward mark with the Wilsons (relatively) buried in the pack. The two local boats of Perkins/Hare and Dixon/Hoy continued to demonstrate mastery of their local waters with a right-hand corner on the second beat but owing to some flatwater expertise in shifting conditions, the O'Donnells charged through to take 3rd. The Wilsons recovered from their relatively poor first beat to 4th but two form teams from Day 1 (Lee/Pygall and Strauss/Burgess) found themselves relatively buried in the pack.

The wind increased marginally for the 5th race of the championships. Normal service was resumed with the Wilsons leading from start to finish, chased hard by the local Perkins/Hare team who were having a fantastic second day and were charging up the rankings. Lee/Pygall recovered some form to return to the podium, chased hard by the O'Donnell team who were flying on the windward legs in particular and working the shifts with some high quality sailing. Working their way to the front of the fleet, local Jess Haigh and Rob Haigh finished 5th, demonstrating considerable speed upward in particular and some aggressive defensive work downwind.

With a cluster of bullets and consolidating their overnight position, the Wilsons had sewn up the Easterns with a race to spare but the other rankings were up for grabs as the championship concluded. Race 6 began in the strongest wind of the day and some interesting lay line calls from the majority of fleet. Jess Haigh took full advantage of the fleet's collective overstanding of the windward mark and muscled in around the windward mark in first place, chased keenly by the pack. Eventually reeled in by the form teams of the Sunday in the Wilsons and Perkins/Hare, Jess held on for a very creditable 3rd place. The Townsends returned to the front of the fleet in 4th, just ahead of Liz Feibusch and Will Cleverly in 5th.

As this point of the report, special mention must be made of Liz Feibusch, a fantastic supporter of the Wayfarer class for over 50 years in various guises, as cruiser, instructor and racer but including a period as UK Wayfarer Association Commodore and and two stints as Chair, who has now retired from racing Wayfarers. You will be missed Liz and thank you for all that you have done for the class. She had a great result in her final race!

In the final rankings, the O'Donnells placed 4th overall after their 2nd day charge, Lee/Pygall 3rd, Perkins/Hare 2nd after an amazing 2nd day and the Wilsons a dominant 1st with 5 wins in the 6 races. Special mention must by made of Jess Haigh who finished first female helm in the Easterns as 8th overall, coupled with a very credible 3rd place. Craftinsure provided some goodies as prizes and the class continues to thank them for their support.

It was left to Andrew Wilson to thank Blackwater Sailing Club on behalf of the competitors after a well-organised and highly enjoyable weekend.

The Wayfarer National Circuit and Travellers Series concludes on the 12-13 November at the traditional "Finale" hosted by Bough Beech Sailing Club.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stRestless11093Andrew WilsonTom WilsonDatchet Water Sailing Club111‑4115
2ndPickle11305Steve PerkinsMartyn HareBlackwater Sailing Club52‑612212
3rdSenior Moment11211Mark LeeSam PygallMedway Yacht Club234‑73719
4thGuiness ll11282Nigel O'DonnellBelinda O'DonnellSwarkstone Sailing Club67534‑925
5thHWS11356Daniel DixonGraham HoyBlackwater Sailing Club7632‑8826
6thOystercatcher10757Quentin StraussSarah BurgessMedway Yacht Club452‑99626
7thIntermezzo11012Tim TownsendJacqueline TownsendMedway Yacht Club348‑1110429
8thJay Jay10925Jess HaighRob HaighBlackwater Sailing Club8‑9765329
9thCassiopeiae11000Liz FeibuschWill CleverleyWaldringfield Sailing Club989‑127538
10thNomad11183David / Matilda EvansOsea / David EvansBlackwater Sailing Club11111056(DNC)43
11th 10706Paul TruemanMarc GriggsBlackwater Sailing Club1010(DNC)811DNC55
12thSummer Breeze11349Anthony HarrisKaren HarrisBlackwater Sailing Club12‑131113121159
13thHocken10661John JoyceTim JamesBlackwater Sailing Club1312‑1414131062
14thDragonfly11364Belinda SturgeAllan HuntBlackwater Sailing Club‑15151310141264
15thMalarkey10537Mike LarcombeStuart AllenBlackwater Sailing Club141412(DNC)DNCDNC72

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