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Why the Great British Sailing Challenge and who cares?

by Andy Rice 5 Dec 2018 08:15 GMT 5 December 2018
A crowded start line © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

The Great British Sailing Challenge launched a few weeks ago, and much of the calendar is in place for 2019. At 7pm GMT on Wednesday evening Wednesday 5 December, the Challenge organisers Simon Lovesey and Andy Rice are hosting a live webinar to present the concept and explain the thinking behind it.

Join the webinar here.

And you can send in questions in advance and while the webinar is happening live.

There will also be interviews with regular participants in the Selden SailJuice Winter Series who will share their reasons why they choose to take part in big multiclass handicap events. Contributors include Ralph Singleton from the RS800 class, Ben Schooling from the Musto Skiffs and one of the big drivers behind the massive growth of the RS Aero fleet, Pete Barton.

So join us on Wednesday evening and find out more about the Great British Sailing Challenge and where it fits in with the UK dinghy racing scene...

The 2018/19 GBSC Calendar

The dates for GBSC events already agreed are as follows, the latest one being the Wilsonian River Challenge in early June:

  • 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 Reservoir Sailing Club
    11 & 12 May 2019

  • Wilsonian River Challenge, Wilsonian Sailing Club
    1 & 2 June 2019

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

  • Mountbatten Centre, Plymouth
    8 to 10 August 2019

  • The Ullswater Ultimate, Ullswater Yacht 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 andy@sailjuice.com

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....

Finish in the top 10 of the travellers' series (based on your best three results)

Top qualifiers in a number of boat categories:

  • Fast Asymmetric
  • Fast Non-Asymmetric
  • Slow Asymmetric
  • Slow Non-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 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.

www.sailingchallenge.org

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