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GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series victors earn their prize at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show

by Andy Rice, SailJuice on 2 Mar 25 February 2017
Matt Mee & Emma Norris win the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

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 ago 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.

A Thousand Competitors in 89 types of boat

The GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series continues to attract sailors from all parts of the country, and from many different levels in the sport. 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.

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.

We will be celebrating the success of many different category winners at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show at the prizegiving at 1030am this Saturday in the Coaching Zone. This is a short walk from the main entrance and also the Main Stage. The Dinghy Show celebrates the depth and diversity of dinghy sailing in the UK, which is exactly what the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series does too. Join us and hear what the winners from 2016/17 have to say about competing in the UK's most vibrant winter racing circuit.

As well as applauding the overall winners, we'll also be presenting prizes to other category winners detailed below...

Allen Rankings

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 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.

SpeedSix Challenge

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.

GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series photos

Tim Olin has taken 1,200+ fantastic pictures from the Winter Series, now you can buy prints and canvas of your favourite moments. Search by sailor, sail number, class and event.

Videos

Relive all the action from the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series with the SailRacer round-up videos here.

The Events

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

Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
Saturday 19 & Sunday 20 November 2016

Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 December 2016

Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club
Tuesday 27 December 2016

Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
Monday 2 January 2017

Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club
Saturday 7 January 2017

John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 February 2017

Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club
Saturday 18 February 2017

Find out more at www.SailJuiceSeries.com

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