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Mettam and Saunders Blast their 'Ball into the Lead of the Great British Sailing Challenge

by Andy Rice 22 Dec 2018 13:40 GMT
Sam Mettam and Tim Saunders during the Datchet Flyer - Selden SailJuice Winter Series Round 2 © Tim Olin /

Sam Mettam and Tim Saunders have taken up the lead in the rankings for the Great British Sailing Challenge after the second round at the Datchet Flyer in early December. It was a very windy and challenging weekend for the 83 boats, which was won by RS600 National Champion Richard Smith who revelled in the gusty conditions with his reduced rig.

Using the Great Lakes handicap numbers, a variation on the standard RYA PY numbers, the trapeze boats came to the fore, not least the 420s who held the top three places at the conclusion of three bruising races on the Saturday.

However, some parallel scoring is taking place at these events, due to the fact that some of the events in the Selden SailJuice Winter Series are also serving as preliminary events to establish the inaugural season of the Great British Sailing Series.

Co-organiser of the Series and the number-cruncher behind the new GPS-based handicapping system, SailRacer's Simon Lovesey, explained the outcome from Datchet Water. "With two events across 9 races now completed, the GBSC is taking shape. With challenging conditions (20+ knots) on day 1 of the Datchet Flyer, three 420s held the top three places overnight, with these boats excelling in the gusty breeze. Obviously they were well sailed in very testing conditions, but the 420 is also operating in its optimum space thanks to high amounts of righting moment and a small rig that's relatively easy to depower.

"The new system of Dynamic Handicapping is designed to take the in-built class advantages and disadvantages into account. So where the 420 would get a leg-up on handicap in lighter airs compared with its standard Great Lakes number, the advantage of the 420s in the windy conditions was pegged back for Datchet. As a result, after the GBSC algorithm was applied, these three ended up in 7th, 9th and 11th positions from Saturday's racing, with the slower hiking boats given a boost."

Based on the GBSC Performance Index, which aims to compare different boats across different conditions based on GPS and weather data, the Fireball of Sam Mettam and Tim Saunders top the leaderboard. The GBSC Performance Index provides comparison across different divisions (Fast Asymmetric, Fast Symmetric, Slow Asymmetric, Slow Symmetric) and various age groups. Trend analysis shows how each sailor is progressing, with Mark Greenstreet (Laser), making the most progress across the nine races held thus far:

Sitting behind Mettam and Saunders in the overall GBSC standings are two Lasers, in second last year's SailJuice Winter Series champion Alistair Goodwin followed by Ben Flower in third.

It's early days for the Dynamic Handicapping, but Simon Lovesey says the feedback from the system is helping to shape a number of categories that will become more prominent during 2019. Simon and co-organiser of the GBSC, Andy Rice of, will be running a webinar in January to discuss progress and to answer questions about the handicapping and scoring. The third event in the GBSC is also round three of the Selden SailJuice Winter Series, the Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey, which is booked to capacity, with 70 boats set to compete on 27 December.

The confirmed GBSC Calendar 2018/19: (other events still to be added)

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? Contact Andy Rice at