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Grapefruit 2018 728x90

First set of events revealed for Great British Sailing Challenge

by Andy Rice 16 Nov 14:58 GMT
The King George Gallop now forms part of the Great British Sailing Challenge © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

Following the 10-year success of the SailJuice Winter Series, the Great British Sailing Challenge offers year-round multiclass racing...

The Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash takes place this weekend, the first event in the brand new Great British Sailing Challenge (GBSC). It's also the opening event of the Selden SailJuice Winter Series, but competitors will also be automatically entered into the inaugural season of the GBSC, which concludes on 28 & 29 September with a 100-boat invitation-only Grand Final at Rutland Sailing Club.

Dates are now out for the events and clubs that have been early to sign up to the GBSC. While the new series launches with some familiar and well-established events, the GBSC organisers have been setting up some brand new multi-class events due to take place during the spring and summer of 2019. There are a number of others still in discussion and which will be announced in the coming weeks. You'll notice some gaps in a few months, and we're keen to fill those gaps ASAP! So if you're interested in hosting an event at your club, get in touch...

The dates for the events already agreed are as follows:

Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
17 & 18 November 2018

Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
8 & 9 December 2018

Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club
27 December 2018

Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club
16 February 2019

King George Gallop, King George Sailing Club
16 & 17 March 2019

Derwent Dambuster, Derwent Sailing Club
11 & 12 May 2019

The Bala Long Distance, Bala Sailing Club
22 & 23 June 2019

Mountbatten Centre, Plymouth
8 to 10 August 2019

The Ullswater Ultimate, Ullswater Sailing Club
17 & 18 August 2019

Grand Finals, Rutland Water Sailing Club
28 & 29 September 2019

Want your Club to host a GBSC event?

With these dates just announced, we've only just started. There are more in discussion and more yet to come. Contact Andy Rice at

How do I get to the Grand Finals?

The Grand Finals of the GBSC are designed to celebrate the best of everything in small-boat racing in Great Britain. So there are many ways to qualify (based on your best three results).

Top qualifiers in a number of boat categories:

  • Fast Asymmetric
  • Fast Other (ie, not an asymmetric!)
  • Slow Asymmetric
  • Slow Other (ie. not asymmetric)
  • Multihull
  • Sportsboat
  • Best Improver
  • Most attended
  • Any boat valued at less than £1000

Top qualifiers in a number of age and other categories, for example:

  • Youth (Under 19)
  • Master (Over 60)
  • Female
  • Two Generations (two people sailing together, minimum age gap of 18 years - could be parent/child but not necessarily)

There will also be a number of 'wild card' invites available based on various criteria.

Hang on, but what even 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 events throughout the whole year, with the target of around 100 boats taking part in each event on larger waters, and running events close to capacity on smaller lakes and reservoirs. 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.

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, along with 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 R.Y.A. 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.

www.sailingchallenge.org