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Craftinsure Wayfarer National Circuit Finale at Bough Beech Sailing Club

by Sam Pygall 15 Nov 2023 11:20 GMT 11-12 November 2023
Craftinsure Wayfarer National Circuit Finale at Bough Beech © Sarah Seddon

The 2023 Craftinsure Wayfarer National Circuit concluded over the weekend of the 11-12 November 2023 with the traditional "Finale" hosted by Bough Beech Sailing Club, a firm favourite amongst the Wayfarer racing fraternity.

The event brought a competitive 2023 Wayfarer Racing season for this all weather, all crew weight boat to a suitable conclusion following circuit events at Datchet, West Oxfordshire, Parkstone, Medway, Dabchicks, Blackwater and Blithfield and opens at Banbury, Waldringfield and Aldeburgh.

The 13 strong fleet of locals and travellers was comprised of a small but elite selection of several form teams of the year, including the 2023 National champions, Medway and Blackwater event winners Andrew and Tom Wilson, multiple 2023 event winners and 2022 Finale winners John Clementson and Mel Titmus and Martin and Donna in the immaculate "woodie" 88. We also had another wooden boat on the start-line in the shape of Colin and Lexie Goodman, runners-up at the recent open meeting at Blackwater and the "family competition within the competition" of Guy Marks taking on son Elliot, crewed respectively by Katy Seddon and Harrison Williams.

The competition for the Finale kicked off on the Saturday in a shifty F1-2 with the intent to complete three back-to-back races over a windward-leeward course owing to a forecast for diminishing wind over the course of the afternoon. Wasting no time, John Clementson and Mel Titmus laid down a marker for the weekend by taking over the lead after the first lap and claiming a well-deserved bullet, holding off the significant challenge of the Wilsons and local team Guy and Katy taking a well-deserved third from the impressive inland sailing skill demonstration from the O'Donnells.

There was little time for breath before the fleet moved into race 2. This time, Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall found a nice wind lane off the start line and sneaked around the windward mark in first. Despite some shifting beats, they held off a charging John and Mel to take victory, with Martin and Donna taking a 3rd in 88. Consistency was clearly going to be key to a successful weekend based on the first two results with some up and downs in keeping with the shifts on the left- and right-hand sides of the course.

A third race on day 1 was squeezed in by the diligent Bough Beech race team before the wind disappeared completely for the day. John and Mel stormed back to take a commanding win and complete an ultra-impressive first day, with the Wilsons recovering from a tough second race to take a second runners-up spot. Strong performers at Bough Beech over the years Bill Whitney and John Shelton from Shoreham Sailing Club took a well -deserved 3rd place, having escaped with the two front running teams after the first lap. A quick sprint to shore then saw the competitors retreat to various evening entertainment that included a traditional pub dinner for many.

Day 2 arrived with much the same wind strength, but a 180 degree change in direction and a course change from windward-leeward to a triangle. Despite these variations, John and Mel carried on where they left on after day 1 and took a commanding win over the first lap, pulled away and sewed up the event with a race to spare. Seriously impressive sailing based on the challenging nature of the conditions! Behind there was a competitive group competing for the top 5 positions for nearly an hour which ended with Martin and Donna in the woodie 88 showing some light wind mastery coming in ahead of Ian and Sam who were pushing for a good overall position by claiming a 3rd. Mention should be made of Brian and Liz McKenzie who were pushing at the front for much of the race and showed how competitive the racing was over the course of the weekend with no one really out of touch in any of races.

The wind picked up slightly for the start of the second race on Sunday and 5th and final overall before dropping off steadily throughout the race. A traffic jam at the committee boat at the start meant that the fleet got spread out within the first 5 minutes of the race. This was not to detriment of John and Mel who led from the first mark to the finish and claimed yet another commanding victory. Another woodie with a rich history, W998, sailed by Colin and Lexie Goodman, took a brilliant and well-deserved runners-up spot and the local team of Guy and Katy ended their regatta on a high with a 3rd place.

Overall, John and Mel repeated their triumph from last year with a commanding Finale victory, claiming four wins out of five and demonstrating a mastery of the Wayfarer in light wind inland conditions that is to be applauded. The Wilsons showed both grit and determination to claim a hard-fought runners-up spot at this true test of inland sailing skill. Ian and Sam claimed 3rd place on count-back from Martin and Donna by virtue of their win in race 2. The family "competition within a competition" saw Guy and Katy snatch 5th from Elliott and Harrison. Kudos to Harrison who was our youngest competitor and won some Craftinsure spot prizes for his efforts. Colin and Lexie rounded out the top 7. John took the opportunity to thank Bough Beech Sailing Club, including the race and shore-based teams for laying on an excellent event once again for the grateful Wayfarer fleet.

Bough Beech Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5Pts
111101John ClementsonMel Titmus1‑21114
211093Andrew WilsonTom Wilson2‑625413
311170Ian FoxwellSam Pygall6153‑815
488Martin CollenDonna Rouse‑7342615
511120Guy MarksKaty Seddon377‑10320
67470Elliot MarksHarrison Williams85‑104522
7998Colin GoodmanLexie Goodman‑9489223
811282Nigel O'DonnellBelinda O'Donnell48‑97726
910688Bill WhitneyJohn Shelton10938‑1230
1011118John GoudieSam Boniface5106‑121031
1110686Brian McKenzieElizabeth McKenzie11‑12126938
1211398Richard BaileyIan Curtis121111‑131347
1311218James MaynardEd Maynard(DNC)DNCDNC111150

As this was the final Wayfarer open meeting of 2023 for the fleet there was an opportunity to recognise the achievements of the fleet over the full year on the circuit. This included the Craftinsure National Circuit winners; John Clementson and Mel Titmus, followed closely by Andrew and Tom Wilson. These two teams have been the class of the fleet over the course of 2023 and have demonstrated superior boat-speed, handling and tactics over a wide range of waters. Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall, following their podiums at Datchet, Medway and Bough Beech, took the bronze medal in their first season sailing on the circuit as a team. Circuit stalwarts the O'Donnells took 4th overall, which included scoring a maiden open meeting victory at West Oxfordshire. The Travellers Trophy for the lowest total score across all the events was comfortably won by the Wilsons, retaining the trophy from 2022.

There was also an opportunity to acknowledge the considerable support three major sponsors of the class: Craftinsure, Hartley Boats and McNamara Sails. Their support has been fantastic over the course of the season.

Top 5 in the Craftinsure Travellers Trophy: (all events to count)

1. Andrew Wilson & Tom/Martin Wilson - 11093
2. Nigel O'Donnell & Belinda O'Donnell - 11282
3. Tim Townsend & Jacqueline Townsend - 11012
4. John Clementson & Mel Titmus - 11101
5. John Goudie & Sam Boniface - 11118

Top 5 for the National Circuit: (three events to count but with one freshwater and one saltwater event)

PosSail NoHelmCrewPtsNotes
111101John ClementsonMel Titmus3Winners at Parkstone (SW) Datchet (FW) and Bough Beech (FW)
211093Andrew WilsonTom Wilson3.5Winners at Dabchicks (SW‑ Nationals) Blackwater (SW) and Runner‑ups at Bough Beech (FW)
311170Ian FoxwellSam Pygall8Runners up at Medway (SW) and Third Place at Datchet and Bough Beech (FW)
411282Nigel O'DonnellBelinda O'Donnell16Winners at West Oxfordshire (FW)
511012Tim TownsendJacqueline Townsend21 

Overall, 55 boats took part in the Craftinsure UK Wayfarer Association (UKWA) circuit over the course of the season and across the wide variety of inland and saltwater venues. The Wayfarers now look forward to a short winter break before resuming with the start of the 2024 circuit on the 13/14 April 2024 at Datchet Water Sailing Club. We also have an exciting Nationals planned for Paignton (13-16 June 2024) and a European Championship to be hosted in France in September 2024. Hope to see you there!

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