Embracing Diversity in One Design Dinghies
Published on March 6th, 2017
Completing its eighth season, the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series continues to set a high standard for one design dinghy racing in the United Kingdom. Embracing an amazing assortment of active classes, the 7-event series brings them together for handicap racing. And it all happens during the brutal winter.
There are many contributing factors that helps to attract sailors from all parts of the country from November through February, and from many different levels in the sport. And it’s not just about the big names at the front of the fleet, it’s about a celebration of the diversity of dinghy racing in the UK. Over the 2016/17 season, a total of 1012 competitors representing 89 different classes competed in the Series.
Plus, the Series goes beyond applauding the overall winners. Here are the other categories that get recognition.
The Allen rankings calculates the improvements in relative corrected times of each sailor to the front of the fleet in each race. At the Oxford Blue, Paul Robson in his RS Aero 7 showed the best improvement across the all three races. For the overall and final rankings Craig Williamson (Laser) held onto top spot, with Nick Craven (RS Aero 7) and Nigel Austin (D-Zero) tying in second overall.
Dinghy Rope Top Class
Defending champions the Laser class have been pushed hard for the 2016/17 by the RS200s, regularly trading places at the top of the Dinghy Rope rankings. With the leader board based on the best three results from class across every race. With a good showing at Oxford, the RS200s managed to close the gap on the Lasers to 0.4% but not sufficient to overhaul the defending champions. So for the second time running the Laser class is declared the top class.
Trident Top Club
After taking the top spot at the penultimate round of the 2016/17 GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series, Datchet Water Sailing Club managed to hold on to first place to be crowned Trident Top Club Champions.
Harken Youth and Juniors
With a big RS Aero turnout at Oxford it was not surprising that the class dominated the Harken rankings, taking seven of the top 10 places. Liam Willis, who also won the RS Aero Winter Championships, took top spot, joined by fellow RS Aero sailors, Tim Hire and Caitlin Atkin in second and third respectively. In the final overall Harken rankings, George Coles (Laser), topped the leader-board, with Eleanor Craig (Radial) 2nd, and Tim Hire (RS Aero 7) third and top Junior.
Based on the best sustained speed achieved as recorded by the SailRacer trackers, both on an actual and adjusted basis. The final event was held at Oxford, and saw regular speedster Ben Schooling (Musto Skiff) post the highest actual speed and best combined adjusted speeds across all three races. Local RS600 sailor, Dan Robins posted the best adjusted speed of the day. For the overall rankings based on adjusted speeds, the B14 of Mark Barnes and Charlotte Jones won the SpeedSix Challenge from Ralph and Sophie Singleton (RS800), with the Comet Trio of Alex and Bob Horlock completing the podium.
GUL Top Lady
The 2016/17 GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series saw a duel between defending champion Eleanor Craig (Radial) and Ann Jackson (Enterprise) for the second year running. For the 2016/17 Series, Ann managed to go one better to take top spot, pushing Eleanor into second. Val Milllward (Challenger) finishing third overall.
The Big Winners
Matt Mee and Emma Norris have become the first RS200 sailors to win the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series in its eight-year history. The former Fireball World Champion steered his RS200 to fifth place in the final event two weeks at the Oxford Blue, sufficient to displace previous Series leader Ben Schooling’s Musto Skiff into second overall.
Like Schooling, third placed Craig Williamson showed signs of being able to win the outright Series, especially when he sailed his Laser to the overall win at the first event of the Series back in November at the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash.
But the lighter winds of the 2016/17 winter have played into the hands of a different type of boat compared with recent windier years. The RS200 and the RS400 haven’t particularly shone in past editions of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series but this time Mee and Norris won two of the seven events at Datchet and Yorkshire Dales.
Rio 2016 Olympic representative Ben Saxton with Izzy Hamilton won their division of the Grafham Grand Prix in an RS200, while Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper Ian Walker made a resounding return to dinghy racing by sailing an RS400 to victory at the John Merricks Tiger Trophy, crewed by Keith Bedborough. The final event at Oxford Sailing Club went to another RS400, sailed by husband and wife team of Russ and Penny Clark, Penny an Olympic representative for GBR at Beijing 2008.
The Firefly also had its moment to shine at the Bloody Mary, with Alex and Thomas Davey winning a light airs pursuit race at Queen Mary.
This was also the first time for the Winter Cat Series, with Will Sunnucks performing well in the handicap fleet at the Datchet Flyer and Grafham Grand Prix to win the inaugural multihull series. In addition to providing a good focus for racing during the winter months, the Series also creates a great opportunity for benchmarking handicap numbers of different classes against each other.
The Great Lakes Handicap Group continues to monitor the numbers closely, using the race data to make adjustments where necessary. The idea is to give any sailor a chance of winning, no matter what kind of boat they’re racing, and with ten different classes in the top ten overall, the system seems to be working.
The following regattas constituted 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