West Oxfordshire SC Spring Races, Wanderer and Wayfarer Open

By sharples1646

Winning Tactics

by Ian Simpson, Dave Bardwell and Amanda Shakir (W 1004)

Photos of Race 1 sailed in the lightest of airs by Philip Meadowcroft

On 22nd and 23rd April, Ian Simpson and Dave Bardwell won the West Oxford Wanderer Regatta, winning all five races in Dave’s boat, Teazle. The event was held simultaneously with a parallel Wayfarer event, sailing the same courses, with the Wayfarers having a 5-minute start. In the fourth race, Ian and Dave came first on the water beating not only the other Wanderers, but also the Wayfarers, even with their 5-minute head start.

When asked to recount their tactics – what happened during the race, Ian said that he didn’t know – he was watching the front of the jib all the time. Dave said that that was also true for him. So this write-up, clearly, will contain the adventures of the front of the jib: I hope you are looking forward to it.

They watch it for different reasons. Ian, as helm, does it particularly on an upwind leg, to make sure the boat is as close to the wind as possible, even if that isn’t heading directly towards the mark1, because in the light and shifty winds that characterised the day, someone’s law says that the wind will change as you approach the mark. It’s more effective to have room to bear away than to have to tack. Dave, as crew, is in charge of the front of the jib during reaches, where he constantly adjusts the jib with the changing wind as Ian steers the boat to the mark. Naturally, Ian watches it on the reaches and Dave watches it on the close-hauled legs so that each can tell the other they are doing it wrong!

However, this policy conducted single-mindedly would result in hitting other boats, marks, the bank, etc., which they didn’t do, so they must have looked up at some point. Ian now remembers that there is another tactic that comes into play – stay away from other boats, then no-one stops you doing what you need to do. This tactic was the clinching factor in the aforementioned fourth race, where they came up to the penultimate mark outside the four Wayfarers, who were all competing for space at the mark, and a slight wind change stalled them all. Ian and Dave had enough space to bear away at that mark and overtake all the Wayfarers rounding the mark.

They got good starts in all the races, keeping momentum by making sure they didn’t arrive at the line early and be required to slow down. This also meant that they kept clear of the other Wanderers from the outset – even if it did mean they weren’t clear of the Wayfarers some of the time.

It seemed that this “getting a good start” tactic was not confined to Ian and Dave, though. In the third race Colin and Sally led away from the start and managed to fend Teazle off until later in the race when Ian and Dave sneaked through at a mark that they were approaching on a Starboard tack, forcing Colin and Sally, approaching on a Port tack, to pass ahead before tacking and thus take a longer route around the mark. In the reverse situation in the second race, the wind was kind to Ian and Dave, and changed just as Colin and Sally tacked, putting them head to wind. So, it wasn’t all tactics!

It was a day when at least half the wind was apparent i.e. caused by the motion of the boat. So, all in all, the success boiled down to their keeping momentum going throughout the races: building it up before the start and making sure they kept it, by keeping away from other boats and by keeping manoeuvres to a minimum. Ian’s 10 years of experience of sailing an Enterprise on a very small, windless lake helped him to learn this.

Their final challenge, in the last race, was to get the boat ashore before the second Wanderer finished – achieved with seconds to spare!

1 Found on Facebook: How to sail a Sailboat. 1. Figure out where you want to go. 2. Whichever way it is, do NOT aim the Sailboat in that direction 3. Aim the sailboat in some other direction.


Rank Sail No Helm/Crew Club Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 4 Race 5 Net
1 1004 Ian Simpson / David Bardwell Tudor SC, Langstone 1 1 1 1 (1) 4
2 1819 Colin Gilbert / Sally Gilbert Grafham Water SC 2 2 2 2 (2) 8
3 1561 Richard Maltby / Mark Skipper Whitstable YC 4 3 3 3 (4) 13
4 676 Mike Bellew / Chris Bellew West Oxfordshire SC 3 4 4 (4) 3 14