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Craftinsure 2023 LEADERBOARD

Craftinsure Wayfarer National Circuit 2023 - Mid Season Report

by Sam Pygall 11 Aug 2023 13:32 BST
Wayfarer Nationals at Dabchicks © Tim Wood

We are over the half-way point of the 2023 Craftinsure UK Wayfarer Association Travellers Circuit. This milestone presents an opportunity to both reflect and look forward for the Wayfarer racing circuit that continues to attract series regulars and newcomers to this competitive, versatile, and social fleet.

In headlines, the Circuit has had 45 different competitors compete in at least one event with different faces at the front of the fleet, demonstrating the general competitiveness of the sailing. There has also been a mix of venues across estuaries and inland.

The 2023 season so far

The Wayfarer racing circuit began back in April with what is becoming a traditional season current raiser at Datchet Water. A well-attended event of 12 boats saw some close racing at this great inland venue. In the end, winners of the 2022 Finale John Clementson and Mel Titmus continued this form into 2023 curtain raiser and emerged victorious after four close races. The regatta ended up being a one-day event owing to lack of wind on day 2. Andrew and Tom Wilson took the runners-up spot and new team for 2023, Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall showed some boat speed and completed the podium in first event of the season.

The fleet moved onto West Oxfordshire the following weekend for the second Craftinsure series event. Circuit stalwarts Nigel and Belinda O'Donnell took a maiden circuit victory in testing conditions. Travellers Trophy winners for the last couple of years, it was fantastic to see Nigel and Belinda win their first event on the circuit. West Oxfordshire is a particular test of boat handling on restrictive inland water in common with many clubs that sail Wayfarers every weekend.

Parkstone Yacht Club, a Wayfarer stronghold but sadly absent from the circuit for a few years came back with a bang with an entry of 14 boats which was a good mix of home fleet plus high quality visitors. Continuing a rich vein of form in the first part of the season, John Clementson and Mel Titmus were victorious at this fantastic venue, with Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend in a close second and Andrew and Martin Wilson in 3rd place. The fleet hope to make a swift return to the venue in the future, which also hosts the annual Poole Week, presenting an opportunity for Wayfarer fleet racing in Poole Harbour in the context of a premier south coast racing regatta.

Another venue with a strong home fleet, Medway Yacht Club, held the Easterns in June. The event was sponsored by Craftinsure, Shepherd Neame, Wayfarer Wines, Hartley Boats and Pirates Cave. With impeccable organisation off the water and a strong race management team on the water, the fleet of 15 had a great weekend of racing. Having challenged in all the 2023 events to date, Andrew and Tom Wilson put down a marker for the Nationals by coming home first with a convincing victory, followed by the new team of Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall in 2nd and Michael McNamara in 3rd. Medway also held the annual Medway Marathon the week before and the Wayfarers had a strong event as is becoming traditional, with Ian Foxwell sailing with Hannah Foxwell finishing 1st, John Clementson and Sam Pygall in the runners-up spot and Richard Stone and Catherine Gore in 3rd.

The UK Nationals, generously sponsored by Hartley Boats, McNamara Sailing and Craftinsure was a well-attended event at Dabchicks Sailing Club on Mersea Island. There was great racing despite some challenging conditions. Well-deserved winners were indeed Andrew and Tom Wilson, followed by Graham Hoy and Rob Haigh in second and Will Powell and Gaskell taking the final podium spot. In a changing of the guard moment, Blackwater Sailing Club took home the top team trophy, with Medway Yacht Club having held this award for many years.

Unfortunately, the Southern Area Championship scheduled in July at Shoreham Sailing had to be cancelled owing to an extreme wind forecast. The fleet hope to return to the club for an event soon which always provides exciting open sea sailing for the fleet. Other events were held successfully at Banbury Sailing Club and Aldeburgh Yacht Club in the first half of the season.

What's to come in 2023?

The remaining Circuit of the year has a blend of a familiar venue, an up-and-coming circuit favourite and a new location for the Wayfarer circuit.

Blackwater Sailing Club : 2-3 September 2023
Blithfield Sailing Club : 30 September- 1 October 2023
Bough Beech Sailing Club : 11-12 November 2023

The upcoming event at Blackwater Sailing Club is scheduled for the 2nd and 3rd September and promises to be an exciting event. See details on how to register. As with last year, this will be an event co-held with the Snipe fleet which gives a great opportunity to mix and socialise with another fleet. The home fleet, fresh from taking home the "top team" trophy from the recent nationals will be competitive in what was a well-attended and enjoyable event in 2022. Recent club racing has seen 15 boats on the start-line so this promises to be an exciting event.

The Inland Championships will be held at Blithfield Sailing Club this year which represents a new venue for the Wayfarer class in the Midlands. The hope is that we encourage some of the Northern contingent of Wayfarer racers and use this as a launch pad to further open meetings in the north.

The Finale at Bough Beech on the 11/12 November is always a fun end of the Craftinsure circuit and does offer the bonus opportunity to compete in the prestigious Bough Beech Icicle event during the weekends of January and February the following year. This opportunity has been taken up by a few of the series regulars in recent years, including Guy Marks, John Clementson, Mark Lee and John Goudie. Both the Finale and the Icicle present an opportunity to hone inland water boat handling at a friendly and well-run club. Last year's winners John Clementson and Mel Titmus will be looking to retain their Bough Beech title, but the racing is always close and competitive at this true test of boat handling skills.

Looking ahead to Wayfarer racing in 2024

2024 promises to be another exciting year for Wayfarer racing with events confirmed at Datchet, Bough Beech, Banbury, Medway and Blackwater. The Nationals will likely be held in at an exciting venue on the South West coast, with details to be confirmed as soon as possible. Other opportunities to race against other Wayfarers include the competitive Icicle Series at Bough Beech, Poole Week, Falmouth Week and Bass Week.

The Class is exploring opportunities to expand geographies and participation with respect to the racing side of the Wayfarer class and any ideas/suggestion in this regard are gratefully received. Please get in contact via with any of your ideas.

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