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Wayfarer Class Looks Forward to 2020

by Tim Townsend 24 Feb 07:59 PST
Nipegegi, the record breaking Round Britain Wayfarer © Nipegegi

2019 was a big year for the UK Wayfarer Association as it took its turn to host the International Championships which were held in Ireland and proved to be a great success with close racing in challenging conditions. The strong winds in Ireland were matched at other major open events throughout the year, especially at West Oxfordshire, Shoreham and Arun.

2020 will see another packed programme for this classic all-purpose sailing dinghy which provides close racing for the very best sailors yet can also be used for day sailing, for coastal and inland cruising and for adventuring.

Some Wayfarer teams have been making a name for themselves racing through the winter in the SailJuice Selden Winter Series, the Blithfield Barrel and the Bough Beech Icicle to name just a few, but the traditional season opener will be the RYA Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace at the end of this month. There will be two Wayfarers on display at the Hartley Boats Stand (C62 in Hall 3- the Great Hall)) one fitted out for cruising and the other having the standard fit out for racing. Members of the UKWA Committee will be in attendance throughout the weekend to explain the many strengths of the boat and the Association to interested visitors.

With over 11300 Wayfarers built since 1958, we are very proud that pride of place at the RYA Dinghy Show this year, however, will go to the 60 year old Nipegegi (sail number 198). This boat has won the class National Championships on five occasions over the years, all in the hands of the Hodgson family which has owned her from new. She last competed at the National Championships in 2018. In the latter part of 2018 and first half of 2019 however, Nipegegi had another goal as she was prepared for for an assault on the record for sailing round Britain unassisted in an open dinghy. Sailed by Will Hodgson (grandson of Bill, who was Nipegegi's original owner and guardian) and Rich Mitchell the aim was not only to beat the existing record but also to complete the first non-stop circumnavigation of Britain in an open dinghy. Will, Rich and Nipegegi succeeded on both counts, completing the trip of 1390 nautical miles in a little over 15 days, breaking the 24 hour distance record for a Wayfarer dinghy along the way. Nipegegi will be on display for the weekend in Palm Court, and Will and Rich will be giving a talk on the stage in the Great Hall at 12:30 each day during the Show.

You don't have to be as adventurous as Will and Rich to enjoy cruising a Wayfarer. During 2020 there will be many opportunities to cruise in company and to attend cruising rallies. Details of these can be found on the UKWA website at wayfarer.org.uk

There is also a full racing programme for 2020 headlined by the eight events of the Craftinsure National Circuit and Travellers Series including the National Championships which will be hosted by Dabchicks SC from 11-13 September. The series will culminate with the traditional Finale at Bough Beech SC in November when the end of season prize draw will also be made with wonderful prizes of sails, insurance vouchers and undercovers for the lucky winners.

The Wayfarer is sure to get at least a couple more mentions during the RYA Dinghy Show as dinghy sailing legend Michael McNamara will be rolling out his incredibly popular Rig Tuning talk on the West Hall stage at 15:00 each day. Michael, with his long term crew, Simon Townsend, has won the UK Wayfarer National Championships many times over the years and is the reigning National, European and International Champion.

Alongside the National Circuit Series there will be other less intense open meetings in Oxfordshire and Norfolk along with race weeks across the country, and events in Ireland and Scotland too. The race programme for 2020 can be seen at wayfarer.org.uk/racing-calendar-2020

The National Championships is usually the best supported event in the racing calendar with the entry divided into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets welcoming teams of all abilities and experience. Entry is now open for the event. More details, the race documents and entry form can be found at dabchicks.org/wayfarer-national-championship

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