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Wayfarer Inlands at Datchet Water, part of the Craftinsure National Circuit

by Sam Pygall 17 Apr 16:06 BST 13-14 April 2024
Wayfarer Inlands 2024 at Datchet © DWSC

The UK Wayfarer Association National Circuit, kindly supported by our title sponsor Craftinsure with additional support by Allen Brothers, Hartley Boats and McNamara Sails, made a welcome comeback after a winter hibernation at the Inland Championships at Datchet Water over the weekend of the 13-14th April.

This is the first of several opens at prestigious sailing locations across the country that constitute the National Circuit for this great all-round boat.

Datchet Water Sailing Club has hosted excellent Wayfarer opens for a number of years now and provides an excellent venue offering some challenging conditions that reward inland sailing skill, tactical nous and endeavour.

Some familiar faces were joined by some fleet newcomers on the Saturday morning with a forecast that offered a wide range of conditions that certainly came to fruition. With the wind sock flying and the sun threatening to make an appearance it promised to be an exciting weekend.

Race 1 started in about 8-10 knots of breeze and a first beat that offered some tactical options to respond to some big shifts. Chris Bunn crewed by Matt Frary showed considerable speed straight out of the traps to round first and never look back to throw down the gauntlet to 2023 National Champions Andrew and Tom Wilson. Ian Foxwell and Sam Pygall won a private battle with fellow Bough Beech sailors Guy Marks and Sam Boniface to take third but the distances between the boats was relatively tiny and the smallest of mistakes or shift reading would result in multiple lost places.

After a quick lunch it was back onto the water for two back-to-back races to close out day 1. Race 2’s super competitive start in slightly increased breeze resulted in a recall for Chris and Matt that allowed Ian and Sam to take a lead at the windward mark that they eventually lost to Andrew and Tom Wilson who took a grip on the event in the early stages with a bullet. Simon and Rupert Sydenham showed some speed to take a third from a consistent Guy and Sam and confirm the intensity of the competition across the fleet.

The last race of the day was sailed in some up and down winds where decision making and “head out of the boat” sailing were critical for success. Chris and Matt used this as an opportunity to overcome the disappointment of their second race by storming to a well-deserved victory with the Wilsons completing a consistent first day a second. The Sydenhams took another third to move up the rankings overall and Colin Goodman and daughter Lexie began to show some speed in their woodie to take a well-deserved fourth. It meant some tight rankings and the end of the first day!

The racing for day 1 complete, some of the fleet retired to a well-earned meal at the local Ostrich pub as is now becoming tradition, ready for a repeat run the next day.

With the championship still wide open and a light, shifty up and down breeze prevailing, day 2 promised some exciting racing and so it proved. A shift in the wind meant a picturesque beat towards Windsor Castle as a recognisable landmark.

In a scarcely believable race four that shredded the nerves, Chris and Matt had the bit between their teeth and established a big lead at half way which evaporated in an incredible frustrating run that saw the wind fill in from right hand side. This bunched the entire fleet up which saw some great skill from Colin and Lexie to wriggle away from the pack to take a fantastic win from a charging Chris and Matt. The Wilsons clinging onto third in a blanket finish with the Bough Beech teams of Ian/Sam and Guy and Sam. The top two teams had a battle in store to decide the final places but a good position in the overall standings was up for grabs across the rest of the fleet.

Race 5 saw Chris and Matt storm to a start to finish victory that gave them a great shot at the inland championship overall. Guy and Sam used some inland skill and guile to take second and continue a day 2 charge up the leadership. The Wilsons maintained their fantastic consistency in the challenging conditions with a critical third place and the Goodmans built on their win in race 4 with a handy fourth.

With everything to play for in the final race, Ian and Sam won the pin and headed off to the left that had been paying for most of the day. Sadly for them it didn’t on this occasion and they rounded fourth behind the Wilsons, fellow Bough Beech team Guy and Sam and Datchet locals Nick Harris and Luke Howells. With Chris and Matt buried in the midfield, the door was open for the Wilsons to take the championship overall and they demonstrated great skill and concentration to take a crucial bullet from Guy and Sam and Ian and Sam in third. Nick held off Chris and Matt to take what would turn out to be a critical fourth place for the overall event.

In a similar situation to the Inland Championship at Blithfield last year, the calculators needed to come out to determine the overall result but the consistency of the Wilsons prevailed to give them a well-deserved Inland championship title. Chris and Matt came second but deserve much credit for their three bullets over the course of the weekend. Guy and Sam won a tight Bough Beech inter-club battle to take third from Ian and Sam. 5th and first wooden boat was the family team of Colin and Lexie.

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewSail NoClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Points
1Andrew WilsonTom Wilson11093Datchet Water SC212‑3319
2Chris BunnMatt Frary11398Lady Yacht Club1‑5121510
3Guy MarksSam Boniface11120Bough Beech SC44‑552217
4lan FoxwellSamuel Pygall11170Bough Beech SC3274‑8319
5Colin GoodmanLexie Goodman998Bexhill SC67414‑822
6Simon SydenhamRupert Sydenham10776Aldeburgh SC533‑76623
7Nick HarrisLuke Howells11223Datchet Water SC‑106869433
8Timothy WoodSarah Elliott11448Walton & Frinton SC986‑105937
9Nigel O'DonnellBelinda O'Donnel11458Swarkestone SC7‑139910742
10Derek LambertSue Risbridger10828Datchet Water SC89‑10871042
11Conrad PayneMartin Dolling9416Datchet Water SC‑11101111111154

Many thanks go to Derek Lambert for pulling together an excellent event in conjunction with exemplary shoreside and on the water support for the Datchet Water teams. Fantastic hosts at a fantastic venue.

The next open meeting for the Wayfarers is this weekend at West Oxfordshire (20-21 April) followed by a trip to Shoreham on the 18-19 May. We then have a trip to Banbury for the Westerns (1-2 June) before what promises to be an awesome event at Paignton for the National Championships (13-16 June).

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