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Craftinsure 2023 LEADERBOARD

Wayfarer Westerns and Craftinsure National Circuit at Banbury Sailing Club

by Andy Darby 7 Jun 17:45 BST 1-2 June 2024
Wayfarer Westerns and Craftinsure National Circuit event at Banbury © Matt Swanwick

The UKWA Westerns are part of the UKWA National Circuit, generously sponsored by Craftinsure, Allen Brothers, McNamara Sails and Hartley Boats and were held this year at Boddington Reservoir the home of Banbury Sailing Club.

The reservoir is 72 acres and lies almost North to South. It is a beautiful location, with gently rising hills to East and West with nature reserves on the Eastern side and trees partly along the Western side. This can lead to some interesting, sometimes rather challenging wind conditions.

Day 1

At the briefing, with Lima flag flying, the Race Officer pointed out the change to four races on Day 1 and two on Day 2. Flag Sierra would announce a shortened course for the last boat to save protracted sailing without a change of position.

Race 1

After enjoying their traditional rolls, the six Wayfarers lined up for the start in somewhat overcast conditions with a Northerly wind of 10-15 knots (some gusts were rather higher).

Nigel & Belinda O'Donnell (11458) and Paul Hughs & Nick Rusbridge (11129) got off to a good start. Both of these Mk 4s lead the remaining field of Mk2 Wayfarers (boats aged from 29 to 50 years old).

At times there was a very slight Easterly aspect to the wind, so the West side of the reservoir was favoured. Our vigilant visitors noticed this and took full advantage, skilfully negotiating the wind shifts in the gusts. Behind them, Andy Darby & Paul Rhodes (9646) lay third after the first lap with Matt Best & Tony (Chirpy) Best (7952) chasing in fourth. At this point, lying fifth, was a Wayfarer with three crew; George, Naomi & Florence Mitchell (7601). Bring up the rearguard was Tony Archer and Julian Fisher (3722).

The fleet was often spread across the reservoir and positions changed and reverted several times, but at the end of the second lap, the Mk 4s were still in the same order at the front, behind them 7952 had overtaken 9646 with 7601 and 3722 not that far behind.

The third and last lap saw some real competitive effort amongst the crews with Tony Archer in 3722 launching himself across the boat a bit heavily, which caused a little damage to the rear seat and his pride (not to mention anywhere else). Sadly 3722 had to retire. Hence Nigel & Belinda were worthy winners of the first race with Paul & Nick second. Matt & Chirpy came third, 8 seconds later, Andy & Paul came fourth with the Mitchell family not far behind.

Race 2

After hasty repairs 3722 returned to the water, but with a fresh crew of Stuart Harris & Julian Lloyd.

Once again, Nigel & Belinda were ahead after the first lap, followed by Paul & Nick. Andy & Paul were third to complete that lap, but Stuart & Julian were finding their feet came next with Matt & Chirpy and the Mitchells.

Lap 2 did have a few extra gusts which lead to the unexpected capsize of Paul & Nick. Thankfully, they were OK: not only that; they didn't get the mast stuck in the mud and scrambled back in to continue racing! They dropped back to fifth position by the end of the second lap. At this stage Andy & Paul were lying second with Stuart & Julian third ahead of Matt & Chirpy. The Mitchells were still holding their previous position.

Nigel & Belinda romped round the last lap, with their overall time for that race only 10 seconds different to the first race. Still improving their skills in 3722, Stuart & Julian overtook Andy & Paul to come in second place well ahead of them. The rather wet Paul & Nick picked up speed and came fourth, then Matt & Chirpy and the Mitchell trio.

Lunch Break gave Paul & Nick a chance to put on dry clothes and for everyone to take on ballast (a delicious pasta bolognaise followed by apple crumble with custard).

Race 3

How do they do it? Nigel & Belinda led the whole race again! Mind you, Andy & Paul were chasing hard, but 11458 pulled away over the last lap or so, finishing well over a minute ahead of everyone.

Matt & Chirpy were going very well and were in third for the first two laps, however, Stuart & Julian had the bit between their teeth and overtook them by some seven seconds by the end of the race.

Whilst ahead of Stuart & Julian after one lap, Paul & Nick fell back to fifth place, with George, Naomi & Florence in sixth (after two laps and a Sierra flag)

Race 4

By the last race of the day, helms and crews were bedding in well. Wayfarers were criss-crossing all over the reservoir, but at the end of each lap, the positions were unchanged from the end of lap 1: Nigel & Belinda, a settled Paul & Nick, Stuart & Julian, Andy & Paul then Matt & Chirpy. The Sierra flag was again shown to the Mitchells who finished in sixth place after two laps.

Après Race

After showering and ego massaging, the racers and helpers had a filling BBQ and liquid sustenance. The bar was open and later evening entertainment was provided by BSC members Peter Bones on the 'Squeeze Box' and Naomi Mitchell on the 'Tin Whistle'. The catering staff (all wives or partners of racers) went for a well-deserved rest.

Day 2

Race 5

On a bright, sunny morning with lighter Northerly winds (with a slightly Western lean most of the time), a shorter course was set and four laps were to be sailed.

After suitably taking on ballast, the first race of Sunday started bang on 10:30hr. Just as well because six minutes later 8 Banbury Sailing Club menagerie fleet dinghies started their race on the same course. (To everyone's relief, this worked rather well.)

Guess what; Nigel & Belinda cracked it again! Not bad for last year's boat. Seriously though, they read the water well and it was well deserved. Stuart Harris and Julian Fisher in 3722 chased hard and kept second place throughout. Matt & Chirpy had a good first lap, but were overtaken by both 9646 and 11129 in the second lap and that is how it stayed for the rest of the race.

Meanwhile the Mitchells in 7601 had nothing to lose, so put 9-year-old Florence on the helm. They followed very close behind the fleet, finishing only 42 seconds after Matt & Chirpy. We can't wait to see just what she can achieve in a few years' time!

Race 6

In similar conditions, the last of six races started at 11:31.

The end of Lap 1 saw a turnout for the books! Matt & Chirpy were deservedly ahead, followed 15 seconds later by Stuart and Julian. Andy & Paul were lying third, Nigel & Belinda fourth, followed by Paul & Nick, then Florence, Mum & Dad. There were only 90 seconds separating the first five boats. It was only a cautious start (understandably) that left Florence behind.

Lap 2 saw Stuart and Julian take the lead with Nigel & Belinda overtaking both Matt & Chirpy and Andy & Paul. The other Mk 4 of Paul & Nick also passed Andy & Paul. Florence, George & Naomi sailed well, but never did quite catch the main fleet during the rest of the race.

During Lap 3, Andy & Paul re-took their position in front of Paul & Nick. Matt & Chirpy remained in their third place for now (only to be overtaken by Andy & Paul and Paul & Nick in Lap 4). At the approach to the last mark of the race (a starboard mark), naive Andy (that's me) allowed Paul & Nick to overlap to starboard, then had to give them room at the mark with no time to regain position before the finish signal.


Congratulations to Nigel & Belinda O'Donnell for winning First Race, Second Race, Overall UKWA Westerns and the Banbury Sailing Club Wayfarer Open! Excellent sailing by Stuart and Julians as well. It was a wonderful weekend! We were delighted to welcome Wayfarers from other clubs to our club again, and to meet such lovely people who sail them.

It was impressive to see a Wayfarer that is 50 years old beat a Wayfarer that is only a few months old (but, of course, there's a discard to consider).

I did not repeat my mistake in the club race that followed, but it felt awkward! (You can't make everyone happy all the time...)

We are grateful to all the Galley staff for their home preparation and tireless service on the day. We thank Neil & Sue Firth for being Race Officer and Assistant Race Officer. We appreciate the Safety Boat helm and crew (Mike and Nic), and also Stuart and Julian who started in a safety boat, then switched to 3722 to keep six boats racing.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Guinness the Third11458Nigel O'DonnellBelinda O'DonnellSwarkestone SC11111‑25
2Wayfs‑n‑Strayz3722Stuart HarrisJulian Lloyd/Julian FisherBanbury SC(DNC)2332111
3YOLO11129Paul HughesNick RusbridgeArun YC24‑524315
4Whaleshark9646Andy DarbyPaul RhodesBanbury SC‑43243416
5 7952Matthew BestTony BestBanbury SC3‑5455522
6Daisy Way7601George/Florence MitchellFlorence/Naomi MitchellBanbury SC5‑6666629
7Wayfs‑n‑Strayz3722Tony ArcherJulian FisherBanbury SC(RET)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC40

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