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Staying Active Through the Winter

Published on September 14th, 2016

Now in its eighth season, the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series brings out the best and the bravest to compete at seven big events throughout the United Kingdom during the chilly months.

Now widely recognized as the region’s definitive winter dinghy handicap championship, no enduring event continues without doing things right, particularly when obstacles include freezing weather. Organizer Andy Rice shares the pieces of the puzzle.

Previous winners include multiple national and world champion Nick Craig who won two seasons with various crews in his Merlin Rocket, 2015 Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard who won the 2012/13 season, and GP14 World Champions Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe who are the current winter champions after a storming performance in the strong breeze of last winter.

You count your best four results from the seven events. Of course, you’re welcome to enter and compete in as many events as you like – all seven if you’re big 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.

Handicap racing used to be dominated by ‘bandit classes’ which tended to hog the limelight and used to 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 seven years analysing historic race data. Early on, the big swings in numbers were controversial, but the Great Lakes team have seen enough data to have a pretty good handle on the relative speeds of all the well-established classes.

The newer or rarer classes are trickier to handle, but the more a particular boat competes, the more accurately the number can be nailed down. We’re pretty happy, and proud, at how things have progressed with the handicapping. Why? Because we’re seeing a far wider spread of classes taking individual race wins and overall regatta victories.

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.

Last year’s GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series saw over 1,000 competitors taking part in 82 different racing classes. The Series has a massive online following each winter, with a big growth in mobile access. Last year attracted more than 36,000 unique users who totaled more than 107,000 visits to the Series website.

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. Enter early!

Note that each of the events has its own criteria for what kinds of boat and class are eligible. You are responsible for checking that you are eligible to compete at each of your preferred events in the Series before submitting your entry online. A broad rule of thumb: If you’re planning to race a monohull dinghy that’s as fast as or faster than a Topper, but no faster than a 49er (Big Rig), then you’re probably okay. International Moths, keelboats and multihulls should be careful because they are likely to be eligible for some, but not all, events in the Series.

Thanks to generous support from Series sponsors, there are some great prizes for competitors and some classes too. The prize giving is scheduled for the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace in London on March 4-5, 2017. Attendees will witness highlights from the series and interviews. The 2016/17 season will see a number of special Prize Categories, including most travelled and top speeds.

The following regattas constitute the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series 2016/2017:

• Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club, Nov 19-20
• Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club, Dec 10-11
• Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, Dec 27
• Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club, Jan 2
• Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club, Jan 14
• John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club, Feb 4-5
• Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club, Feb 18

Additional information:
Event details:
Andy Rice:

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