Its been a while since I posted about my first club series win, but like many I've been spending a lot of time on the water so far this summer! I was asked by a club member if I wanted to crew in his Wayfarer at the Worlds this year which were hosted in Heeg, in The Netherlands. I hadn't done a dinghy event outside of the UK before and I hadn't done a World Championships either, so I thought I could tick two items off the bucket list in one, so I went!
I was well aware that international events can get very expensive, as was my helm, who opted to take the boat over to The Netherlands on the Friday, before the event started with measurement on the Saturday. I felt like a rockstar crew, flying abroad to meet the boat and helm (cheaper to fly on the Saturday than get a ferry, and I couldn't leave on the Friday), with the measurement already done and some beers in the fridge. Unlike the majority of the Wayfarers at the Worlds, we were sailing a wooden MK1, built in around 1965, with 14 year old sails. The boat measured, but was 16kg overweight! To add to this, the first time we would sail the wayfarer together would be the morning before the practice race on Sunday afternoon. Our aim at the start of the week was to be in the top 30, around 1/2 way up the fleet.
Coming from a Laser and a National 12, with a bit of 4000 sailing thrown in, I was short on symmetric kite experience - I'd done lots of yacht racing previously but never crewed a dinghy with a symmetric kite. After a couple of hours we began to get our processes sorted, whilst checking the boat over for any weak areas. We had a brilliant start in the practice race and rounded the windward mark in the top 10. A few kite issues and uncertainties about the course meant that we fell behind slightly as the race went on. We most likely ended up in the top 20 though.
The first day of racing got underway with a qualifying day, with the whole fleet split into 4 flights. The aim had now changed to be in the gold fleet - the top 28 boats. We got underway well in the light airs and finished the first race just outside of the top 10. Riding on the previous result, we sailed Race 2 very well, tacking off to port early and catching multiple lifts up the beat, until we rounded the windward mark in err, 1st place. I turned to Simon, my helm and at the same time we said, "what do we do now, and do we know the course?" We held our lead until the 3rd leg, where we let a few of the newer, faster Hartley Wayfarers slip by (we later found out that our kite was a bit smaller than the rest). We finished Race 2 in 6th place and followed with a 9th for race 3. We'd qualified for the Gold Fleet, so now had to set ourselves another goal.
On Tuesday, we only managed one race due to the light winds and unfortunately we had stepped off the gas slightly, finishing 15th.
With a rest-day on the Wednesday, we were eager to get going on Thursday, only to have the first race abandoned and racing postponed until the breeze filled in. For Race 5 we got back up to speed, finishing 8th, but the wind continued to build and we could not keep up with the newer boats on the reaching legs, so finished Race 6 in 15th.
With one day of racing left and 3 races to fit in, we were lying 16th overall, so changed our goal again to finish in the top 15. We had a fantastic first race (Race 7) on the Friday, rounding the top mark 3rd and only dropping one place (to the Canadian National Champion!) to finish 4th. We were amazed, but our luck soon ran out as Race 8, one we would rather forget about, saw us get the first beat very wrong and finish in 22nd. At least we'd have two discards, but knew we needed a strong last race. The final race started well and we rounded the top mark in 6th, keeping this position all the way to the final beat, until one boat tacked off and managed to slip past us.
We finished 13th overall, at the Wayfarer World Championships! Moreover, I was amazed that I didn't get hot in the sun or cold in the wind with my array of rooster sailing products! I took a bundle of kit, but the products I used most were my Pro Lite Aquafleece
, Race Skin
and new Rash Vests
. I really would recommend the Race Skin to everyone, it kept me warm whilst launching off the beach, comfortable whilst crewing in the light airs and also whilst hiking!
The practice race at the Wayfarer Worlds in W968
By jumping in the crew's seat for a week, I learnt an astonishing amount that I've been able to bring back to the National 12, where we've been to North West Norfolk Week and competed - but more on that soon.
Final Results -