Our Commodore, Margaret Hynes and her son Sean represented Cullaun Sailing Club at the Wayfarer International championships in Florida March 7-11th 2022.
42 teams gathered in Lake Eustis SC, following long plane and car journeys, digging out snow covered boats and towing borrowed boats . Glorious sunshine and above normal temperatures of 30 degrees greeted us as we grappled to get used to the heat and overcome jet lag! Lake shores are home to alligators- waiting for feeding, so no apres swimming after sailing!
The club is based on one of Florida’s numerous lakes, 50 miles North West of Orlando. We were welcomed by Commadore Patti Kuntz and her team, where the club has the Ethos of Cullaun warm and friendly.
There was lots of tuning and tweaking of boats over the weekend prior to racing, starting Monday morning. Strong winds prevailed for the first practice race, but died and rose in fluky fashion for the rest of the week- a bit like Cullaun but with more variety with funny choppy waves, vicious thunder storms and torrential downpours seeing us running for shore!The fleet became divided with races within races. Good starts always seemed to coincide with a general recall- at least one every day. Postponement flag was a common site as the OOD had difficulty setting courses in frequent changing winds. Strong winds greeted us on day three and put pressure and snapped the casing on our rudder blade. We were towed home but Richard, chair of USA wayfarer association kindly lent us his rudder for the day and we were back out to race the next two races.
A multi national team helped us repair it which luckily lasted the week! Good luck helped us achieve a few good results- our best being 8th in which the wind died and we fought to get over the line in front of Mike McNamera, the new world champion. There were three women in the top ten in that race, which was stopped as all others were outside time limits and were awarded 11 points!! So our best race was also good results for everyone else!There was a tight battle for first place between local man Dave Mooring and Britain’s Mike MacNamera winning. Sue Pilkinton from Canada was the first woman home and third overall. Sue has fond memories of her trip to Cullaun as did others who visited when there was an International Wayfarer rally in Lough Derg in 2015. Old friendships were renewed, new one’s made, with lots of great memories.
Each evening different crews gathered in the clubhouse swapping stories of gains and losses that day, comparing bruises, sunburn, aching joints, bangs to the head, nose, peeling fingers from wearing wet gloves on soft skin- all part of the spills and thrills of racing.
Knowing that I wasn’t going to win, my main objective was to keep the boat safe, not injure ourselves or other boats and sail fair and (square) I mean Fast!!
I will treasure the five days racing with my son Sean, as we made small advances, big drops and gained places again! It’s a great joy sailing in a big fleet and a great way to start the season. We finished 22nd out of 42 boats so we were happy with our result.
A big thanks to Jim Heffernan (you guessed Limerick ancestry) who gave me a lend of his boat Morning Star, and to the other club members who loaned boats when the container bringing brand new boats didn’t arrive on time!!
A group of 17, brought 5 boats West to the Gulf coast town of Cedar Keys. The weather was cooler there and we went hiking, canoeing in Crystal spring river, and swimming with the Maltees- a fresh water mammaI. We sailed around the islands – accompanied by dolphins, the odd turtle, cormorants and eagles. The area is home to white flamingo and multi wildlife, in an unspoilt non commercial area of Florida.
Each evening we visited each other’s houses for drinks, food, barbecue and had a nice selection of restaurants on the waterfront. Everything is within walking distance but one of our team Rachel frequently gave us lifts, flying around in a golf cart that came with the rented apartment!!
The area is famous for producing cedar wood for pencils and it’s the fastest place in USA where clams grow. Indeed we got some fresh clams from the local fishermen and cooked them on our Irish night, where we celebrated St Patrick’s day early, with clams and Concannon washed down with Irish Mist and hot whisky! Finished up with a good auld sing song.
I extended my trip by going to New York to visit my daughter where we were blessed again with fine weather as we toured the city. My fitness was tested as we did 20,000 steps each day!
Looking forward to seeing you all on the water. I would encourage everyone to go to National and International events – we are lucky to have a great sport enjoyed around the world.
For more coverage of this event see, https://www.yachtsandyachting.com/news/247349/Wayfarer-International-Championships-2022