Preparing for the British Dinghy Handicap Circuit

Published on September 8th, 2015

Now in its seventh season, this winter dinghy handicap championship of England will test sailing skill and sheer persistence across seven of the biggest events of the chilly season. The GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series will bring together the most enthusiastic dinghy racers for some of the biggest and most prestigious handicap racing events in the British sailing calendar.

The seven-event Series kicks off with the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash on the weekend of 21/22 November 2015. Previous winners include multiple national and world champion Nick Craig who won last season with various crews in his Merlin Rocket, 2015 RS400 National Champion Michael Sims who won the 2013/14 season in a Solo, and 2015 Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard who won the 2012/13 season.

Here are some more facts on the Series:

Last year’s GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series saw over 1,000 competitors taking part in 91 different racing classes. The Series has a massive online following each winter, with a big growth in mobile access. Last year attracted more than 34,000 unique users who totalled more than 90,000 visits to the Series website.

Last year a number of classes scheduled the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series as a key part of their calendars, with SailRacer producing class specific extracted results. Any class interested in their own Winter Series as part of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series, please contact, with class prizes for any achieving 15+ entries.


The same seven events are back from last year’s Series. Once again, you’ll need to count your best four results from these seven events. Of course, you’re welcome to enter and compete in as many events as you like – all seven if you’re mad and bad enough to take on the challenge! This will give you more shots at getting a set of four good scores to put on the board.

The following regattas constitute the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series 2015/2016:
♦ Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club, Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 November 2015
♦ Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club, Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 December 2015
♦ Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, Sunday 27 December 2015
♦ Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club, Monday 28 December 2015
♦ Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club, Saturday 2 January 2016
♦ Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club, Saturday 9 January 2016
♦ John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club, Saturday 6 & Sunday 7 February 2016

Historically, handicap racing has had its ‘bandit classes’ which run away with the prizes more often than perhaps they should. Part of the aim of this Series is to iron out the imbalances and create fairer competition, rewarding the best sailors regardless of which class they are racing. It’s an imperfect science, but our Great Lakes group of handicapping experts have spent the past six years analysing historic race data.

There are a few changes to handicap numbers, but nothing like as big as a few years ago. Why? Because the Great Lakes analysis is year by year homing in on the most accurate and fairest numbers for the many different classes that race in the UK. The proof? We’re seeing a far wider spread of classes taking individual race wins and overall regatta victories.


SailRacer’s online entry system means you can enter anything from one through to all seven events and make a single payment, saving you time and guaranteeing your place in advance. A number of the events were oversubscribed last year, and we’re expecting the same again this year. Online entry will open at the start of October.

As with last year, for some of the events SailRacer will be providing GPS Tracking, analysis and live updates from the race course for those wanting to follow the action in real time, and allow sailors to replay their races when they get home.

Thanks to generous support from Series sponsors, we have some great prizes for competitors and some classes too. A major prize giving is scheduled for the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace in London on the weekend of 5/6 March 2016. We will look back at highlights from the series and interviews. The 2015/16 season will see a number of new Prize Categories, including most travelled and top speeds.

The Series website will tell you more about the events in the Series, more about the Great Lakes handicapping process, and we’ll keep you updated on everything else you need to know. Find out more at

Report by Andy Rice.

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