The Challenge

“Offshore cruising in an open boat can be hard, cold, wet, lonely and occasionally miserable, but it is exhilarating too. To take an open dinghy across a hundred miles of sea, taking weather as it comes; to know that you have only yourself and your mate to rely on in an emergency; to see the beauty of dawn creep across the ever restless and dangerous ocean; to make a safe landfall - is wonderful and all of these things develop a self-reliance that is missing from the modern, mechanical, safety-conscious civilised world.” Dye, Frank; Dye, Margaret (2006)

Ocean Crossing Wayfarer (2nd ed.) London:
Adlard Coles Nautical. p. 2.

Starting Saturday May 31st, two sailors from Thornbury Sailing Club in Gloucestershire, UK, aim to sail an open boat around mainland Britain in record time. The current best is 76 days and the target is 60 days. This team, Phillip Kirk and Jeremy Warren, intend to demonstrate self-sufficiency and good seamanship, and in the spirit of sailing adventurer Frank Dye (1928-2010), reaffirm that a Wayfarer dinghy can undertake extended offshore passages safely. Phil and Jeremy seek to foster good will between sailing clubs and leave a trail of TSC pennants in clubhouses around Britain.

The direct distance is 1500 miles and the plan is for approximately ten hops of 200 miles. Each “hop” is three days, with two nights spent at sea. Going clockwise from Weymouth, up the Irish Sea, west of the Isle of Man, they’ll drop into Northern Ireland (it’s on the direct route) then off up the west coast of Scotland. This will take in the formidable headlands of Cape Wrath and Duncansby Head, sandbanks of the Thames Estuary, and the familiar headlands of the south coast.

The Charities

We don’t need your help to fund the challenge itself, but we do support the following two charities

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Brave men and women regularly risk their lives to ensure the safety of others at sea. The RNLI depends entirely upon voluntary contributions.
They deserve our support.

The PAPPA Fund is a small charity which supports health and education programmes in ultra-poor Southern India, and is linked directly with Jeremy’s home village of Marshfield, Wiltshire. We see this giving makes a difference, year on year.
Thank you for helping.

Make a donation

All donations will be going via the Charity Choice page of the Pappa Fund, but we will split these 50/50 with the RNLI. Thank You!

About the Boat


This is a sailing dinghy, an open boat with a crew of two. Keeping it upright is the task of the crew, with a combination of their body weight and constant sail trimming. There is no cabin and no engine. These boats can capsize, leaving a bedraggled crew to right them by standing on a swinging wooden keel.

Hafren is a Wayfarer class of dinghy, one of thousands built since 1957 when it was designed by British designer Ian Proctor. It is testament to this classic design that it has endured and that Wayfarers continue in production today, with racing and cruising fleets around the world. The outstanding feature of this design is seaworthiness. Whilst no slouch, this is not the fastest dinghy around, but offshore and in big seas the Wayfarer has proven its ruggedness and durability time and again. There is simply no other choice for the venture.

Wayfarers, whilst externally similar, vary in construction materials and internal design. Hafren, sail number 10022, is a ten-year old “Plus-S” fibreglass foam sandwich hull, which is stiff and inherently buoyant. The interior is modified to allow one crew member to sleep whilst the other drives, with simpler controls than a typical racing Wayfarer, but all specified for durability.

In addition to the standard rig of mainsail, genoa and spinnaker, Hafren has an outsize spinnaker, a longer carbon pole to fly it on and then there is “big yellow”, a monster spinnaker taken from a cruising yacht which flies from the masthead.


Jeremy Warren

Jeremy is a member of Thornbury Sailing Club near Bristol with over 40 years sailing experience in dinghies and racing yachts. Dinghy sailing has included a Finn, Lasers, International 14 and RS700 dinghies, sailed in the UK, Europe, the Baltic, in USA in San Francisco and on Lake Garda in Italy. Offshore experience includes years of navigating and skippering in UK offshore races, notably two Fastnet races, one of them being the stormy 1979 event. Jeremy is Thornbury Sailing Club’s first second generation “Commodore”, having held this voluntary post in 1997/8.


Phillip Kirk

Phillip is the more accomplished racing sailor, again with decades of experience, and a member of Thornbury and Frampton sailing clubs. Starting at age 14 in Toppers and Lasers Phil grew to become a successful Enterprise sailor. Phil’s speciality is skiffs, notably the Cherub dinghy. These radical, overpowered and often homebuilt boats have few rule restrictions limiting performance, save their diminutive length. At just twelve feet long, the Cherub is a handful in light conditions and explosive in any decent wind. Phil has built Cherubs, perhaps informed by his professional experience as a practicing naval architect. Phil has a breadth of offshore experience including two Sydney to Hobart races and five Fastnets. In 2006 Phil co-skippered a yacht in the Double-handed Round Britain and Ireland yacht race.

Our Club

Thornbury Sailing Club and those River Severn Tides

Our home club of Thornbury SC is on the English side of the Severn Estuary, three miles upstream of the older of the two Severn bridges, and about twenty miles north of Bristol. At Oldbury the estuary is two miles wide...when the tide is in! On spring tides the tidal rise can be as much as ten metres, and we can only sail for three hours in every twelve – the rest of the time its mud, for miles. Getting all that water in, ten metres high and two miles wide, in six hours means the spring tide runs at up to four knots past the club, and more than ten knots in the narrow “Shoots” shipping channel between the Severn bridges.

There is no Severn Bore here, that’s further up, at least another 10 miles, where the two mile width at Thornbury squeezes down to 60m and narrower. The Bore is a tide-driven wave, for up to 2m high, rushing upstream with the incoming tide. It is on the Severn Bore that the world record longest surf ride was achieved, and that was a ride of more than ten minutes.

The club was founded by the late Edmund Grace in the fifties; appropriately Edmund was then landlord of the Anchor Inn in the village of Oldbury Upon Severn. Sailing was in sturdy Yachting World Dayboats, a fourteen foot clinker dinghy weighing in at over 200kg, giving them good sea keeping properties. Now the club has a thriving membership of more than 250 family units, comprising cruisers up to 10m moored on mud berths, cruiser racing and good dinghy racing in cats and a variety of dinghies including Wayfarers and also Cherubs, the twelve foot super-light skiffs. TSC has a club house with bar and changing facilities, and is registered RYA sailing school, running both sail and powerboat training.

The best of TSC, in our view, are the long-distance races that take us up-river and back on a tide, to Sharpness and Lydney, and also the family Club Week. Club Week utilises TSC’s enormous acreage of fields, perhaps a square mile, where around 50 families set up a tented village with sailing and social activities during a week of August.

Thornbury Sailing Club can be a wild and timeless place. It is set apart from the nearby cities and towns, and the agenda is set by this magnificent and powerful river. Thornbury Sailing Club is our spiritual home.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions then please fill in your message below.