Greystones SC, Greystones, Eire * July 22-26
the daily Tim Townsend reports
updated 7 August 2019 at 0901 hrs
International Championships at Greystones Sailing
Club - Preview
by Tim Townsend 17 Jul 12:57 BST
20-26 July 2019
Action from the 2010 Wayfarer Internationals at Weymouth © Richard Langdon / Ocean Images
Who knows? I might conceivably bump into Saoirse Ronan (highly unlikely) or Reggie Corrigan (unlikely) while I'm in Greystones later this month I might visit a few cafés (likely) or bars (highly likely). (Un)fortunately I'm going to miss out on Westlife at the Whale Theatre (screened live from Croke Park) but I might catch Amelie the following day. I am going to go sailing (most definitely) and catch up with some old friends and hopefully make some new ones.
Where is Greystones and why am I going there? Greystones is a small town (but the second largest in Co Wicklow) squeezed between the Wicklow Mountains to the West and the Irish Sea to the East and lies to the south of Bray Head; a few miles north lies Dublin's fair city. Between the 20th and 26th July 2019 Greystones SC will play host to the the biggest bonanza of Wayfarer sailing in 2019. The event trebles as the Wayfarer International Championships, the UK National Championships and the Irish National Championships, attracting competitors from Canada, the USA, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and South Africa, as well as Ireland.
With so many race courses (Punchestown, Leopardstown and the Curragh) just a canter away, a look at the runners and riders seems appropriate.
The much anticipated renewed competition will be between joint favourites Mogens Just & Anders Friis from Denmark (Olympians and reigning International Champions) and Michael McNamara & Simon Townsend from the UK (reigning European and UK National Champions, multiple International Champions....but runners up to Mogens & Anders in 2016 in the Netherlands). Their most recent races have been very close and they often seem to be a class apart. Don't expect this to be a two horse race however.
From mainland UK, Andrew and Tom Wilson, who have won several of the National Circuit Series events in the last few seasons will be ones to watch especially when the going is hard as will Bill Whitney and John Shelton. Keep an eye out also for Brian Lamb and Sam Pygall and, if the going is soft to very soft, Richard Stone and Catherine Gore.
From Denmark do not discount Neils Alslev and Anders Pjetursson if the going is hard, Meike Fomsgaard and her crew if the going is soft nor Stefan Nandrup-Bus and Hans Hansen or Christian and Jorgen Iversen, all of whom raced well at the European Championships in Denmark in 2018 and may creep up on the rails to trouble the leaders. Also, there may be a late entry from former Wayfarer International Champion Peter Boje, who is happily returning to fitness after going lame shortly after the last International Championships in 2016 where he joined Mac and Mogens in the winners enclosure.
From the host Club and Country, we must not forget Monica Schaefer and Miriam McCarthy, reigning Irish Champions and also race winners at the International Championships a few years ago. Also from Ireland, do not be surprised if Margaret Hynes and Mike Hayes and Norman Lee (former GP14 Champion) and Barry Keogh have a good race.
And from the other side of the pond Rob Wierdsma (CWA Chair) is back, with Samantha as crew, hoping to improve on his Gold fleet performance in Holland. Leo and Joanne van Kampen were at the top end of Silver fleet in Holland and as recent runners up at the 2019 Canadian National Championships will be hoping their form continues to improve. Jim Heffernan (Wayfarer International Secretary) and Mark Heffernan will be representing USA and again hoping to improve on their top-end Silver fleet placing from 2016.
I would expect the race winners and the podium overall to come from the competitors listed above but there a dozen or more other teams who are capable of getting good results in individual races if their stars are aligned. Whether or not they would be consistent enough to challenge the podium remains the burning question which is why they form part of the amorphous group known as "100-1 bar".
The field is large and not just made up of the thoroughbreds. There will be some old nags too, some of them carrying additional weight, even though they insist they've been on the gallops recently! As is the custom these days the field will be split into Gold, Silver and Bronze divisions (all racing as one fleet) and for the Bronze division there will be the option of cruising for a day or two. The organisers also plan to create a buddy system where a top boat is paired up with a less experienced team to share experiences and knowledge (hopefully to the benefit of both).
It won't all be racing. A social programme is organised and there will be time to enjoys some of the attractions the Greystones area has to offer. Aside from the cafes, bars and the Theatre, there are lovely walks, cycle rides and, I mustn't forget, golf with a plethora of excellent courses nearby including Druids Glen (the "Augusta of Ireland"). I can almost guarantee that one team may forget an important bit of equipment for their sailing ("now, where did I put the boat?")....but won't forget their golf clubs.
As always, the organising authority has been putting a huge amount of time into planning the event supported by its many sponsors, including Allen Brothers, Hartley Boats, and Craftinsure from the sailing world and also by Irish Ferries, Watermark (Coffee Technology) and The Beach House, Greystones. Fingers crossed that the weather is kind, that the racing is hard but fair and that the craic will be memorable too.
Wayfarer Internationals at Weymouth - photo © Richard Langdon / Ocean Images
Wayfarer International Championships at Greystones Sailing Club - Day s 1 & 2
by Tim Townsend 24 Jul 17:24 BST20-26 July 2019
After two days of scrutineering and registration racing at the 2019 Wayfarer International Championships, UK National Championships and Irish Championships at Greystones SC got under way on Monday 23rd July with a practice race and Series Race 1.
The practice race was held in 14-20 knots of southerly breeze and confused sea caused by an underlying swell and cross chop. The predicted heavy-weather teams who sailed in the practice race performed as expected with Andrew and Tom Wilson taking the win followed by Niels Alslev and Anders Pjetursson. Bill Whitney and John Shelton completed the podium.
By the time Race 1 started the gusts had increased to 24 knots and the sea state was deteriorating. The course was a triangle/sausage with the boats on port gybe downwind being physically moved sideways to windward by the big seas. Several boats capsized during the race, most on the downwind legs and even the leaders were making sure they were "locked in" and managing their risks conservatively on those legs. In the biggest gusts the downwind legs were wild and Anders Friis, crew on the winning boat, was reported to have said that he hadn't sailed so fast in a Wayfarer for many years.
When we previewed this event Mogens Just & Anders Friis from Denmark and Mike McNamara & Simon Townsend were flagged up as the teams to beat and they started this Championship as they have in other recent events. Mogens & Anders eventually won Race 1 from Mike & Simon. Andrew & Tom Wilson completed the podium.
Tuesday morning started in a similar vein with strong winds and difficult seas. Because the Wayfarer is rare as a racing dinghy class in also encouraging entries to its International championships which have less experience, many of whom decided that Monday's conditions were too hard, the PRO, Tom Rusbridge, sensibly postponed racing to allow the conditions to moderate.
Race 2 eventually got under way in the afternoon with a triangle/sausage course and all the boats in attendance. The wind speed was 13-16 knots. Mike & Simon laid down a marker by sailing away from the fleet and winning the race by a comfortable margin from Mogens & Anders. Once again Andrew & Tom Wilson completed the podium.
Race 3 began in a softening breeze. Bill Whitney & John Shelton led at the windward mark with Mogens & Anders and Mike & Simon not far behind. At the end of the first triangle the wind had softened further so only the lightest crews were overpowered and as the fleet went down the run the wind shut off completely leaving the PRO no alternative but to abandon the race.
With only two races completed at this point in time the Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets are still to be determined.
International Championships top 6 after day 2:
1st Mike McNamara/Simon Townsend (GBR) (3 points)
2nd Mogens Just/Anders Friis (DEN) (3)
3rd Andrew/Tom Wilson (GBR) (6)
4th Niels Alslev/Anders Pjetursson (DEN) (8)
5th Bil Whitney/John Shelton (GBR) (11)
6th Christian Milert Hansen/Kim Fremlev Larsen (DEN) (13)
UKWA National Championships top 6 after day 2:
4th Brian/Liz McKenzie
5th Tim/Jacqueline Townsend
6th Richard Stone/Catherine Gore
Wayfarer Internationals Days 3 & 4
Wednesday 24th July was designated catch-up Wednesday with up to 4 races planned in a forecast 13-18 knots.
Race 3 (which had been abandoned the previous day when the wind failed) was re-sailed under a black flag with a few boats prohibited from taking part under the black flag rule. The main protagonists were at the front again this time joined by Bill Whitney and John Shelton. The conditions for this race were perfect at the start with most of the fleet enjoying fantastic three sail reaches. The wind built as the race progressed however making the reaches on the final lap more challenging. The race was won by McNamara/Townsend followed by the Wilsons and Whitney/Shelton. ...read less
Race 4 was sailed in about 20 knots and was led from start to finish by the Wilsons who demonstrated some blistering speed upwind and down. They were followed home by Whitney/Shelton and Just/Friis. A few of the Bronze fleet boats went home in this race and there were a few capsizes and retirements for other favoured teams.
By the time Race 5 started the wind was gusting at over 20 knots and the sea state was deteriorating once more (more difficult in Mike Mac’s view than Monday’s conditions). This time it was Just/Friis who got away at the start and went on to win followed by McNamara/Townsend. The Wilsons completed the podium. There were more casualties in this race with several boats capsizing on the final run to the finish. Fortunately the support boats were well manned and all teams and their boats were successfully recovered.
With the conditions as they were the PRO chose not to sail Race 6 and the fleet was sent home.
The forecast for Thursday 25th July looked marginal at best with 25-30 knots of breeze. The PRO chose to call a lay day, leaving battered sailors the chance to recover and/or to go sightseeing.
Friday is the last day of the championship. Another windy day is forecast and with the points so close the top competitors will be wanting at least one more chance to seal victory.
Overall results after 5 races and 1 discard (top 4):
1st Mcnamara/Townsend (6 points)
2nd Just/Friis (7)
3rd Andrew/Tom Wilson (9)
4th Whitney/Shelton (15)
New Champions Crowned
Friday was the final day of the Wayfarer International and UK National Championships 2019 sponsored by Craftinsure, Hartley Boats, Allen Brothers and Irish Ferries.
Going into the last day just 1 point separated the leaders, Michael McNamara and Simon Townsend, from the reigning champions from Denmark, Mogens Just and Anders Friis. The forecast was for winds of 15-20 knots to decrease during the day to 9-11 knots and Tom Rusbridge, the PRO intended to sail three races, possibly four to conclude the event. ...read less
As it happened the forecast gentle Irish breeze turned out to be a fruity 15-24 knots with the rough and confused seas we had to deal with all week and only two races were completed before Tom called it a day. Once again there were several capsizes and an incident where one helm fell out of his boat at the gybe mark. Fortunately he was wearing a fluorescent orange top otherwise he would have been difficult to see by boats behind as they planed towards the gybe mark.
Mac and Townsend won race 6. Just and Friis won race 7. When the scores were calculated Mac and Townsend had done enough to secure the championship by just the single point. Andrew and Tom Wilson finished in third place overall after an excellent and consistent set of results.
In the UKWA National Championships Mac and Townsend won fairly comfortably followed by the Wilsons. Bill Whitney and John Shelton completed the podium.
The prize giving and supper went very well and happy and exhausted sailors made arrangements to meet again in the near future.