The Wayfarer Dinghy – 60 Years and Still Strong!

2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the Wayfarer, the versatile 16-foot dinghy that can be raced, cruised and is seaworthy enough for an open ocean crossing; e.g. Frank Dye’s 1963 crossing from Scotland to Iceland. The Wayfarer was designed in England by Ian Proctor in 1957. Many of the original wooden Wayfarers continue to cruise and compete, and be beautifully and lovingly restored.  The Wayfarer has been through several iterations of fibreglass hulls, before culminating in Phil Morrison’s sleek-looking Mark IV update of the Wayfarer design, which is built today only in England by Hartley Boats. Some new features include a spinnaker launcher, added controls and increased safety after a capsize due to self-bailing feature flaps in the transom. This new Wayfarer is helping to revive the class and is attracting some younger sailors; there is also a trainer version that is now being used in some European sailing schools.

Detroit’s Nick Seraphinoff works tirelessly to import the new boats to sell and build the fleet in North America (http://np-boats.com). North Bay, Ontario, Canada once housed the largest fleet in North America in the late 60s and early 70s on Trout Lake. A strongpoint in the fleet hinges on the passion and efforts of the patriarch of the Canadian fleet – ‘Uncle’ Al Schonborn of Oakville, Ontario – an extraordinary sailor and enthusiastic ambassador who has been a Wayfarer since acquiring W116 in 1964 and has compiled a fabulous sailing resource known the world over – his websites (http://wayfarer-canada.org  and http://wayfarer-international.org).

Regular regattas occur across Ontario and Michigan; Ontario clubs include Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club and the Mississauga SC, Conestoga SC, Sail Parry Sound, Cobourg, and North Bay and Fanshawe Yacht Clubs. Further afield, there are Wayfarer sailors across Canada from coast to coast and south through the Carolinas to Florida.

Beyond racing, there are many Wayfarers who just enjoy messing about in boats and discovering new places in them. Here in North America, the Wayfarer “cruising” is highlighted by an annual camping/cruising “Rally”, a week of day sails out of a fixed and always enticing locale. These Rallies are currently set in a three-year rotation which includes Hermit Island on Maine’s Atlantic coast, Wellesley Island State Park, in New York’s half of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River and the Lighthouse Point campground of Ontario’s Killbear Provincial Park. Additionally, there is an annual International Rally which has been held in all parts of the Wayfarer world: Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. 2017 will see this Rally take place July 15-22 at Wellesley Island where it will coincide with our annual North American Rally.

In addition to our Rallies, we have one organized Cruise each May in the southern half of the Chesapeake Bay’s fabled Eastern Shore. The cruise differs from a Rally in that our headquarters move from day to day. The organized cruise has the great benefit of allowing us to sail in groups which exponentially increases the safety factor.

The Wayfarer fleet is a fun-loving and generous group of people. Both racing and cruising are friendly with an unbelievable eagerness to help new owners learn the ropes and improve their skills. If you have a CL16, you are welcome to join the fleet as it is the same hull design – that is another story. You are welcome to bring your Wayfarer or CL-16 and join in with the fun and meet the group!




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