19 Wayfarers found themselves on the start line at Bough Beech Sailing Club, on 8th & 9th November, for the final event of the National Circuit Series. With the Sevenoaks Weald to their sterns, they faced 8 kts of tricky shifting south westerly breeze, and although conditions were at first, more moderate than originally forecast the overcast sky, was a portent of more interesting things to come.
The first race followed a "P" course and on the beat the fleet split, half going left and half right. It was Martin Collen with Tom Preston, who took an early lead up the middle, followed in turn by Brian Lamb with Tony Hunt, and Quentin Strauss with Sam Preston. These three boats, chased by Roger Challis and Martin Johnstone, then went in search of any lifts off to the right and broke away from the chasing fleet. Collen and Preston led at the first mark, rounding to port, with a good kite hoist seeing them off down the run, as Mike Mcnamara and Simon Townsend moved up to round in second, with Lamb and Hunt third. Collen and Preston led at the gybe mark too, but as the rain came down Mcnamara and Townsend closed the gap.
On the second beat Collen and Preston went left and held on to the lead, pursued by Mcnamara and Townsend, with Lamb and Hunt leading the chase on the right. Collen and Preston crossed the line for the thrid time on starboard and headed up the centre, followed by Strauss and Preston, but Mcnamara and Townsend had found their preferred route and again went left, sailing a good tactical beat to come within half a boat length of Collen and Peston at the windward mark.
The smooth kite hoist of the Mcnamara/Townsend boat saw them of down the run neck and neck with Collen and Preston with both boats gybing simultaneously. It was Mcnamara and Townsend however, who found more power to gain four boat lengths lead over Collen and Preston. To add to his worries, Collen must have been looking over his shoulder at Strauss and Preston too.
Mcnamara and Townsend crossed the line at the starboard end and again went left, chased by Collen and Preston, slightly to windward. Both boats could have picked up some cake from the club house as they approached the shore in their duel for speed on the left side of the beat, but when they tacked onto port, Mcnamara was windward of Collen and made it tell, going on to round the top mark on the inside as Collen sailed down the layline. It had taken Mcnamara and Townsend a little over an hour to get to grips with and to master Bough Beech.
Mcnamara recieved first aid to an ear injury during lunch, but being determined to sail, postponed a trip to casualty.
The second race was a windward leeward sausage, and a zig zag run. Phil Stacey and Peter Stacey got a good start, and Mcnamara and Townsend initially went right, ducking transoms to do so. As the wind increased the fleet dispersed across the entire width of the water, Collen and Preston ahead on the right, and Strauss and Preston on the left. As Mcnamara and Townsend reinforced their mastery over the lake, the battle then at this point was for second, between the Strauss/Preston and Collen/Preston boats with Gordon and Emma Harris chasing too.
On the second beat Mcnamara and Townsend went left, Harris and Harris chose the middle and Lamb and Hunt now led on the right. But Mcnamara and Townsend had more boat speed and sailed across the lake on port, to be able to approach the top mark on starboard for a starboard rounding, whilst the Harris's sailed down the layline to round in second place. The trip back down the lake was a series of reaches, the first quite broad, but the second was tighter.
Mcnamara/Townsend and Strauss/Preston each popped their kites, but Strauss and Preston struggled to hold theirs in the increasied wind. It did pay off however, as they bore away to the mark. To their credit, David Roberts and Mike Bryant, sailing at their home club, also flew their kite, the rest going for the safer option. Thereafter Mcnamara and Townsend gave a sailing masterclass, securing a second victory.
Day two presented much more testing conditions, and there were numerous retirements. The Race Officer had however, very generously placed a gybe mark in front of the club house so that between the squalls the spectators were able to come onto the balcony to enjoy the sight of the fleet, in line astern, with dark patches of water chasing them on to the mark. When it caught them it forced them onwards like wild creatures, carving the water before them in an issue of white spray.
It was great, fast, exciting sailing and even Mcnamara and Townsend came to grief. They were however soon back up and chasing, Townsend bailing furiously. The Harris's took a well deserved first, but Mcnamara and Townsend had by now secured three wins to take the weekends honours.
This event was the finale of the Wayfarers 50th Anniversary National Circuit Series, and Roger Challis and Mark Johnstone were presented with a trophy from the sponsors, Hartley Laminates. Throghout the weekend the races were sailed in a gentlemanly, but determined manner, as befits a boat with such a historic pedigree. It was as enthralling to watch as any of the newer classes and with a new boat builder and a new boat, the future of such a thoroughly versatile craft with fond memories for many sailors has to be bright.
1st: 8868, "Cordon Rouge" Mike Mcnamara/Simon Townsend (NBYC)
2nd: 88, "Pieces of Eight" Martin Collen/Tom Preston (UTSC)
3rd: 968, "Spinaway" Gordon Harris/Emma Harris (Waldringfield SC)
4th: 7588, "Scavenger" Quentin Strauss/Sam Preston (UTSC)
5th: 9174, "Just Add Water" Roger Challis/Martin Johnstone (Waldringfield SC)
By Chris Cooper