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Wayfarer Dinghy North American Champs Won By Ireland's Fisher & Watt

12th February 2014
Wayfarer Dinghy North American Champs Won By Ireland's Fisher & Watt

#wayfarer – Every winter, Lake Eustis Sailing Club in Florida hosts the North American Mid-Winter Championships, giving the small, but enthusiastic North American Wayfarer fleet a chance to sail in warm waters. In 2014, this was particularly appealing as most of the northern states and Canada were hit by a series of winter storms. A fleet of 16 boats gathered in the days before the event, the fleet included current World Champions, Peter and Alex Rahn from Montreal as well as crews from Toronto in Canada, North and South Carolina, Idaho, Delaware, Michigan, the host club in Florida plus a competitive English crew of David and Anne Pugh, now resident in Toronto (the current North American Champions). The fleet was joined by the  Irish boat of Trevor Fisher and Emily Watt, the current Irish National Champions.

A busy programme was planned by the host club, kicking off with practice races on the 30 th January and a racing seminar that evening, run by the visiting Irish crew.

Racing was generally held in light conditions, with large windshifts, streaks of stronger wind and huge patchy holes. Lake Eustis is quite large, and the closer the racing got to shore, the trickier it became.

The Wayfarer fleet had the lake to themselves on Friday for three races, but were then joined by a fleet of over 40 ‘MC Scows’ who sail their annual ‘Train Wreck Regatta’ on the same weekend as the Wayfarer mid-winters. In 2007, a train derailed on the last day of the event on the level crossing outside the club. This ensured that competitors couldn’t leave after the event – leading the club to rename the regatta!

In the event, the weather didn’t play ball…….only 4 of the scheduled 9 races were sailed, with racing being cancelled on both Saturday afternoon and Sunday, due to lack of wind and very unseasonal heavy fog. However, the four races sailed were very competitive, sailed in tricky conditions with large windshifts, light winds and difficult to predict streaks of wind.

Race 1 kicked of on the Friday morning, in a light wind, with Fisher / Watt taking a lead by the first windward mark. These positions remained the same, until the start of the final beat. Fisher / Watt headed right towards what looked like some wind, but sailed into a hole. The Rahns, Heffernan / McIntyre, and the Pughs all stayed left, in light wind. Eventually, Fisher / Watt got moving again and passed the Pughs, but with less than 100 metres to go, remained in third in a dying shifty wind. A left shift, followed by an increase in wind allowed Fisher / Watt to close the gap, taking two sterns before heading right for at the next shift. Fortunately this arrived just in time and Fisher / Watt tacked to cross the two boats and take the win. The fleet headed to shore for a waist expanding lunch, before heading back out in what looked like better conditions.

Race 2 was sailed in a slightly increased steadier wind. The Rahns had an excellent start at the committee boat, with the Pughs slightly further down the line. Fisher / Watt misjudged their approach, were outfoxed by the Rahns and were left to chase the fleet. By the first windward mark, the Rahns led the way with the Pughs leading Fisher / Watt , who had pulled through the fleet. There was some confusion over the course, with the Rahns heading off down the run, believing that a windward / leeward course had been signalled. The remainder of the fleet headed towards the gybe mark. In the light winds, maintaining speed proved to be important and despite sailing a longer course, the Pughs and Fisher / Watt overtook the Rahns and led them up the beat and down the next run. A shortened course was signalled and Fisher / Watt headed to the leeward mark before sailing the short reach to the finish. The Pughs had read the sailing instructions correctly and ignored the leeward mark, ailing straight through the finish to take the win, from Fisher / Watt, who remained ahead of the Rahns, who subsequently retired, realising they had sailed the wrong course. This proved to be a serious mistake as the Wayfarer Mid Winters are one of the few events where there is no discard. This effectively ruled the world champions out of contention – as long as the other competitors didn’t make any major mistakes.

Race 3, the final race on day 1 had the best winds of the event, with over 10 knots at times. At one stage a gust caught first time competitors Tate / Tate unawares, leading to a capsize. Fisher / Watt started at the pin end of the line, which proved to be a mistake , as the wind went right and the Rahns sailed off into the distance. The rest of the fleet remained tightly bunched, with Fisher /Watt and the Pughs being joined by Seraphinoff / Yates. These three swapped positions, with Fisher / Watt pulling through to take 2 nd , closely followed by the Pughs and Seraphinoff / Yates.

The fleet returned to shore, for some well earned rest and the prospect of lighter winds on day 2.

Saturday dawned, with warmer weather, but a heavy fog over the lake. The wayfarer fleet was joined by over 40 MC Scows, as 9.00 a.m. approached, the warning signal was due but the fleet was greeted with an AP. Lots of coffee, doughnuts and bagels, some sitting round and a break in the fog, led to the fleet eventually getting afloat in the early afternoon. The fog cleared, but the wind failed to settle down and almost 60 boats spent over an hour drifting around, waiting for the warning signal. Eventually, the wind settled down, with what looked like a streak of stronger wind closer to shore. Fisher / Watt won the start and headed towards the shore, with the Pughs following and most of the rest of the fleet going right. Left continued to look good, until half way up the beat, when those who went right started to look good. Fisher / Watt headed back right, to try and maintain contact with the fleet, while the Pughs kept left. At this stage, Kielmovitch / Hemphill, Heffernan / McIntyre, Best / Best, Seraphinoff / Yates and the Rahns all looked good. The fleet bunched approaching the windward mark and were led around by Best / Best, Heffernan / McIntyre and Seraphinoff / Yates. The MC Scows, who started after the Wayfarer fleet, were now rounding the windward mark and the prospect of 40 huge sails upwind forced Fisher / Watt to keep out right, as the rest of the fleet stayed on port gybe and headed left under the Scow fleet as they bore down. This was the first race with a leeward gate, and Fisher / Watt committed to the right hand side if the gate, dropping their spinnaker early and taking the lead, which they held to the finish. Heffernan / McIntyre took their second second place of the regatta, followed by the Rahns and the Pughs. The wind completely died, giving no prospect of any more racing on Day 2 and the fleets returned to shore. An excellent meal was served up at the club, with plenty of beer, and the Wayfarer fleet introduced to the delights of Baby Guinnesses!

Day 3 arrived, with even less wind than the previous days, and with the fog remaining over the lake, racing was abandoned late in the morning.

Despite only four races being sailed, the XV Midwinters proved to be and excellent event, with the race team making the best of some very challenging conditions to fit in 4 races, excellent organisation and catering onshore and a great sense of camaraderie. In Ireland and the UK, we sometimes feel that we have to travel long distances to events……spare a thought for some of the committed folks in the Wayfarer fleet in North America, who regularly sail to events as widely spread as Toronto, North Carolina, Florida and . The Rahns drove from Montreal to Florida – a distance of almost 1500 miles, and Sarah Pedersen, who drove a staggering 2500 miles from Idaho.

After 4 races, the Irish team of Fisher / Watt were clear winners, followed by David and Anne Pugh (Toronto) and Jim Heffernan / Jim McIntyre (North Carolina).

Unfortunately, the Rahns mistake in race 2 meant that they had to count a DNF, dropping them to 5 th overall.

Place

Seed

Helm / Crew

Race 1

Race

2

Race 3

Race 4

Total

1

1

Trevor Fisher/Emily Watt

1

2

2

1

6

2

6

David & Anne Pugh

4

1

3

4

12

3

3

Jim Heffernan/Jim McIntyre

2

4

6

2

14

4

4

Richard Johnson/Michele Parish

5

3

5

9

22

5

2

Peter & Alex Rahn

3

DNF

1

3

24

6

5

Nick Seraphinoff/Craig Yates

7

5

4

8

24

7

12

Dave Hepting/Charley Jensen

8

7

7

7

29

8

8

Cynthia & Jim Best

6

6

DNF

5

34

9

9

Tom Erickson

12

11

8

6

37

10

14

Ken Butler & Ken Jr.

10

9

9

TLE

38

11

7

Jim Lingeman/Pat Kuntz

11

8

10

TLE

39

12

11

AnnMarie Covington/Mike Tighe

9

10

DNF

TLE

46

13

13

Izak Kielmovitch/Bill Hemphill

16

12

11

TLE

49

14

16

Sarah & Jim Pedersen

13

14

12

TLE

55

15

-

Jesse & Carolyn Tate

15

13

DNF

TLE

58

16

10

Mike Murto/Anne Ireland

14

DNC

DNC

TLE

58

 

Published in Wayfarer
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