Wayfarer Worlds IV
Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy * July 17-23, 2010
Report by Ray Scragg
Banner Wayfarer International Championships 17th-23rd July 2010 Weymouth WPNSA    
by Ray Scragg

Wayfarer Internationals at Weymouth
Photo © Richard Langdon / Ocean Images

A record one hundred and seven Wayfarers showed for these championships, which are held every three years and cycle between the USA, Canada, the UK and Ireland - and Denmark, where the last event was held in 2007. This year's event was held at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy and incorporated the UK National Championships. The class has seen a huge surge in interest following the launch two years ago of the Wayfarer Mark IV.

Photo Courtesy Steve Bell - fotoboat

This brings the classic design bang up to date in terms of contemporary design, build quality, performance and features. Forty-five of these Hartley-produced boats attended; some helms having moved over from their classic 'woodies' and the rest of the Mark IVs bringing new blood to the fleet. Sunday was Practice Race day which also incorporated practice starts and boat tuning sessions. The Practice Race was held in Weymouth Bay in a glorious force four south-westerly with sunny conditions and waves to match.

Wayfarer Internationals at Weymouth
Photo © Steve Bell / www.fotoboat.com

Weather conditions for the week were governed by a weak and slow moving low-pressure area over England and Wales - torrential rain and thunderstorms were forecast with light southerly breezes.  As it happened, the rain passed us by and warm, sunny conditions prevailed. South-westerlies at Portland are beneficial as they are reinforced by any sea breeze, indeed this effect seemed to be strongest within the harbour itself. This gave the race officer the option of an alternative sailing area should the wind become fickle in Weymouth Bay - the preferred racing area – while at the same time getting the fleet most of the way home.  The bay sailing area meant a three to four mile run down from the WPNSA along the beautiful Purbeck coast to the start line. This distance was needed by the time bunkering tankers and other constraints came into play, while at the same time giving us more exposure to longer and more interesting wave patterns.

The first and second races were held out in the bay in spectacularly clear and sunny conditions with a light south-easterly breeze between six and eight knots. With lengthy line starts, gate starts not having been a tradition with the fleet so far, there were some doubts about getting everyone cleanly away; but on Monday at least, the fleet was well disciplined. Previous champions Stu Rix and Mike Claxton (Cannes YC) in their new Mark IV W10705, showed their intentions by getting the perfect pin end start to a windward/leeward race, crossing the fleet on port tack and going on to win from Martin Collen and Tom Preston (Upper Thames SC) in their venerable fifty-year-old W88 Pieces of Eight, with Roger Challis and Mark Johnston third in W9174 Just Add Water from Waldringfield SC. The second race was a three-lap Olympic triangular course held in the dying breeze with Simon Potts and Christian Sutherland first in W10738 Stab in the Dark (Royal Lymington YC), Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend second in W10648 The Poacher (Norfolk Broads YC) with the Collen team third.

With fog around on the Tuesday, the pragmatic decision was made to hold Race Three in Portland Harbour. Signs of indiscipline ensued and the black flag was quickly brought out. Current champion, Peter Sigetty-Bøje from Denmark, made the perfect start to a windward-leeward course from the committee boat end of the line. However, the fleet split on the run and those taking the Portland Bill side spuriously found more wind pressure from the light south-westerly breeze, the effect holding on the subsequent beat. This enabled Stu Rix to grab the lead again from W7110 Tim Rush and Robin Hobson (Shoreham SC) second, with John Goudie and Suzanne Hall (Wilsonian SC) finishing third. Race Four was postponed until Wednesday in the hope of picking up more wind and better visibility. At this point Rix held the advantage, but Collen, Rush and McNamara were threatening to make this a close-fought contest.

Wayfarer Internationals at Weymouth
Photo © Steve Bell / www.fotoboat.com

Wednesday brought top-end force four south-westerlies and good waves to test the fleet’s spinnaker surfing abilities. The McNamara team coped best in the wonderful planing conditions and took back the advantage from Rix with a first and a second place in races four and five respectively.  Rix took a second and eleventh while Dave Wade and Jamie Marsden in their new Mark IV W10729 Black Pearl started to threaten the top rankings with a 1st place in the second race of the day.

Thursday brought lighter breezes in the seven to ten knot range and was swinging plus or minus fifteen degrees around southerly, causing concerns to the race team trying to lay the long line. After two attempts to get the fleet off and a couple of hours' delay, it was reported to the race officer that the sea-breeze was steady in Portland Harbour – the fleet duly returned there and racing proceeded. The black flag was brought into play with a vengeance and in these lighter conditions Potts secured two first places. Although Wade secured a second place in Race Six he was caught by the black flag along with Sigetty-Bøje in Race Seven – suddenly Potts looked favourite for the championship.

On the final day, the championship was finely poised between Rix and Potts with McNamara close behind.  The low-pressure area was giving way to a high, so Friday brought light northerlies. Race eight was set out in the bay with the windward mark fairly close to the cliffs off the Purbeck coastline – this looked tricky.  Even trickier with the sea-breeze beginning to fight the northerly – this was beginning to look like lake-sailing. Black flags were brought out straightaway in order to expedite the proceedings.   The upwind/downwind course was selected and became a bit of a lottery as, in random succession, the left, the middle or the right became favourite. At times the strongest breezes were under the cliffs, where if you were lucky you could scream into the windward mark on a reach!  With similar effects happening on the spinnaker run down, boats rafted up at the leeward gate while others steamed in from various angles. McNamara coped best with all this, gaining another first place while Rix and Potts suffered a ninth and twelfth respectively – the initiative had moved strongly back to McNamara. Wade was also back in the ring with a third place. A lot depended on the final race and in an ideal world a steady breeze. 

This was not to be as the sea-breeze continued to fight the northerly.  The race was shortened in the dying breeze – McNamara’s eighth place was the best of the title contenders and with that he secured the championship with the most consistent overall performance.   On the route back to and through Portland Harbour the sea breeze strengthened and steadied – c’est la vie!

The event gave us all an insight into how race officers will have to cope during the Olympics in 2012.  The WPSNA race team lead by Frank Newton did a fantastic job - quite apart from Frank’s running commentary delivered in hilarious style during morning briefings and via his PA system on the water.  This was a wonderful week’s sailing in superb conditions and enjoyed throughout the fleet by everyone – with intensive competition at every level.

1st W10648 ‘The Poacher’, Michael McNamara & Simon Townsend, Norfolk Broads YC
2nd W10705 ‘JP Dinghies’, Stuart Rix & Mike Claxton, Cannes YC.
3rd W10738 ‘Stab in the Dark’, Simon Potts & Christian Sutherland, Royal Lymington YC
4th W10729 ‘Black Pearl’, Dave Wade & Jamie Marsden, Northampton SC
5th W88, ‘Pieces of Eight’, Martin Collen & Tom Preston, Upper Thames SC

Full Results