2023 Wanderer Inland Nationals at Cotswold Sailing Club

By sharples1646

Saturday started with rain, but this was short-lived with the sun returning by the time the seven-strong fleet were rigging their boats for the 2023 Wanderer Class Owner’s Association Inlands, held once again at the Cotswolds Sailing Club. The race officer, Ray Workman, then briefed us on the “knitting pattern” 5p 8p 10p 4s 1s 9s (or thereabouts!) which constituted the course for the first race. The wind was as strong and gusty as forecast, but this did not give an inkling as to the shiftiness, which seemed in the event to be plus or minus 50 degrees at times, with gusts from both sides. And so to the racing.

In the first race there was little to separate Ian Simpson (W1004 crew Dave Bardwell), Lindsey Weatherly (W1795 crew Hillary Handley) and Leonie Milliner (W1800 crew Evelyn Johnson) at the first mark. The next run/reach was a spinnaker leg (not that launching the spinnaker made the boat any faster than goose winging!) The positions remained the same for the rest of the race, with the gaps growing or shrinking as the wind shifts favoured different parts of the lake. Tom Bentley (W1416 crew John Bentley) put in a creditable performance in their first Wanderer open meeting to finish fourth. Colin Gilbert (W1819 crew Sally Gilbert) was closely shadowing the top three boats until suffering a bad capsize, thus preventing a race finish.

Nigel Lamb (W477 crew Maria Lamb) struggled with the wind strength and gustiness and didn’t quite make a finish in race 1, electing to fly storm sails for subsequent races, to good effect.

After a break ashore for lunch (the benefit of lake sailing compared to sea events!) and a change of first mark, battle recommenced with back-to-back races. The steadily increasing winds in races two and three required more sustained hiking out to keep the boats flat, this being critical to Wanderer performance according to Leonie Milliner, who was a fine exemplar.

In the second race, the same three met at the first mark but in a different order, Lindsey Weatherly (W1795) first, Leonie Milliner (W1800) second, and then Ian Simpson (W1004). First Leonie and then Ian passed Lindsey during the following lap and eventually Ian passed Leonie to take a second win by a very narrow margin. Leonie’s home rival Lindsey Weatherly unfortunately capsized within metres of the finish line, sacrificing a potential third position for sixth place and a huge haul of weed! 

Bob Rastrick (W66 crew Adrian Walker) managed to complete the race, which was commendable, since Bob had travelled down from Sheffield to help Adrian tune his Wanderer as the final part of a restoration project.

In the third race, the same three boats were in a tight group going round mark 1, with much place changing and the finishing places eventually resolved to Ian Simpson (W1004) first, Leonie Milliner (W1800) second, and Lindsey Weatherly (W1795) third.

After a wonderful club BBQ on Saturday night and lakeside camping for the visitors, Sunday morning’s wind was fresh, but with large shifts playing across the lake. Ray Workman, the Race Officer, set a modified course with a good beat to the first mark.

The fourth race of the series saw Leonie Milliner sub-in a fresh crew,  with Beatrice Johnson replacing her sister Evelyn, who’d flown to Barcelona for a post A-level holiday. Good starts by W1795 and W1004 saw them first and second to mark one with W1800 third. Ian and Dave in W1004 managed to pass Lindsey and Hillary in W1795 to take the win and the Inlands trophy.

For the fifth and final race of the series, Ray Workman set a long, fast downwind leg to the top of the lake and two short beats, providing plenty of opportunity for close racing. Leonie Milliner gained a strong start, squeezing in at the Inner Distance Mark. Having taken avoiding action, Ian and Dave rounded the windward mark after W1800 and W1795. Leonie and crew Beatrice maintained the lead to the conclusion of the race, despite increasing winds and some very challenging, nail-biting gusts, to claim their first bullet, and to secure that coveted second-place trophy.  Ian and Dave managed to pass Lindsey and Hillary in W1795 to take second. Lindsey and Hillary in W1795 capsized again near the finish but recovered the boat quickly this time to maintain their third place.

Leonie Milliner, the CSC Commodore, summed-up the week-end by stating “Cotswold Sailing Club was once again honoured to host the 2023 Wanderer Class Owner’s Association Inland Nationals. It was a fantastic two days of close racing in brisk conditions. Huge thanks to our very capable race officer, Ray Workman, for setting five excellent courses, making the most of the breeze, and to our visiting fleet who made the competition so close!”