Harken Derm

Dinghy Handicap: Bringing together 80 classes for fair racing

Published on March 11th, 2015

There is a cadre of UK one-design dinghy sailors that brave the winter elements to compete in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series. Now in its sixth season, the series is based around eight prominent winter handicap events. In the 2014-15 series, 706 entrants sailing in 80 classes competed from November through January.

Sailors from many different dinghy fleets now consider this series as one of the main goals of their winter racing. With great prizes on offer, it attracts some of the best one design sailors in the country to compete against each other in a handicap format.

Nick Craig held off a late charge from some faster boats to win the 2014-15 edition in a Merlin Rocket. Designed in 1946 by Jack Holt as a development class, the double-handed 14-footer has no trapeze and is powered by main, jib, and spinnaker.

The Series started out with some light air events that played into the hands of the slow- to medium-handicap boats. But at the turn of the new year, the breeze increased for a gusty finale to the Series. This brought some of the fast-handicap boats to the fore.

The foundation to the series is in the success of the Great Lakes handicap numbers, which produce some of the fairest racing in the UK’s mixed-fleet racing scene, with eight different classes represented in the top 10.

The top 10 also produced an equal split between singlehanders and doublehanders, and trapeze boats and hiking boats. The quality of the fleet was also evident with five present or past World Champions represented in the top 10.

The Great Lakes handicap numbers continue to evolve, and while the one-number system produces balanced racing in moderate conditions, the slow hiking boats tend to do better in light winds, and the fast trapeze boats do well in the strong winds. The next debate is whether a two-number system is needed for wind conditions.

2014-15 GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series results: CLICK HERE

Photos by Tim Olin.

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