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The Restoration Handbook for Yachts by Enric Roselló
The Restoration Handbook for Yachts by Enric Roselló

Great British Sailing Challenge launched

by Andy Rice 30 Sep 2018 20:28 BST
Racing at Bala © John Hunter

Following the proven concept of the SailJuice Winter Series, the Great British Sailing Challenge offers year-round racing for every kind of sailing boat...

The Great British Sailing Challenge is about to launch a few months from now, and it's set to make a big impact on the UK racing scene. Whether you race a dinghy, a small catamaran, or even a sportsboat, the Great British Sailing Challenge is aimed at you.

So what is the Great British Sailing Challenge?

It's a series of handicap racing events that take place throughout the year, and it's open to pretty much any sail-powered craft. The Challenge will involve at least one event per month throughout the whole year, with the target of around 100 boats taking part in each event. Competing sailors will earn ranking points from each event they compete in, with the top 100 sailors invited to a winner-takes-all-final in Autumn 2019 to award the best sailors of the year. In addition to the overall leaderboard, there will be a number of specialist rankings such as age, gender and boat type (eg. Hiking Singlehander, Asymmetric, Symmetric, etc).

Who came up with the idea?

The idea comes from the organisers of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series which has been one of the big success stories of the past decade. Organised by Andy Rice of SailJuice.com (sailing journalist and marketer) and Simon Lovesey of SailRacer (event organiser and GPS tracking expert) is about to enter its 10th season and this year is sponsored by mast maker Seldén. If you're familiar with the SailJuice Winter Series, then this will give you an idea of what's on offer, except with a few key differences.....

All Year Round

The Seldén SailJuice Winter Series takes place in the cold months. The GBSC takes place throughout the year and will incorporate some of the events in the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series as well as a number of other existing events, and some brand new ones too.

Great Lakes and Dynamic Handicapping

One of the key reasons for the success of the SailJuice Winter Series is the introduction of the Great Lakes handicap numbers, a refined version of the standard RYA PY numbers. We're taking the proven formula of the Great Lakes numbers for the jump-off point for the Great British Sailing Challenge, and then we're using GPS trackers on the competing boats to start analysing the numbers in greater detail. We call this 'Dynamic Handicapping'. Whereas the numbers in the Great Lakes are analysed and altered once a year, GPS-based Dynamic Handicapping enables much faster and more frequent analysis of the relative performance of different types of boat. Like Strava, the mobile app which has revolutionised the cycling world, or Park Run and what it has done to popularise running, the organisers are taking a 'Big Data' approach to the sailing world.

Over time, this will make it possible to produce accurate handicaps for:

  • different wind strengths
  • older, less competitive boats
  • sailors of different abilities, from virtual beginners to world-class athletes.

The sailing calendar's already busy, do we really need more events?

It's true, we've got loads of sailing events taking place almost every weekend of the year, especially during the summer months. But the majority of those events are not very well attended, especially some of the single-class open meetings where some of the less popular classes sometimes struggle to attract more than 10 boats. We don't think that's a sustainable way of running an event, either from the class's point of view, or the club's. With a multiclass approach to open meetings, we can create the scale for events that are more fun, and that a club really wants to host.

When does it start?

The first event will be the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash on 17 & 18 November 2018, which is also the first event of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series. More events will be announced in the coming weeks and months. And if you want your club to host an event, get in touch!

www.sailingchallenge.org