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Grafham Belle beckons the start of summer racing

by Andy Rice 25 May 19:03 BST 29-30 May 2021
Colin and Oli Murray in their Norfolk Punt © Tim Olin /

After the longest ever winter, sailors could enjoy something approaching more typical spring temperatures at this weekend's Grafham Belle. Part of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series, this new event at Grafham Water Sailing Club has attracted a broad mix of dinghies ready to compete on handicap.

Among the hot contenders are the 505 crews, Craig Thompson & Paddy Lewis from Minnis Bay, the formidable wife & husband combo from Stokes Bay - Penny & Russ Clark, and Staunton Harold's former Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard along with Richard Pepperdine.

The 505 competes very effectively under the Great Lakes handicap numbers, the well-proven variant of the standard RYA PY numbers. But then so do many other classes, which of course is the whole point of handicap competition. Other likely contenders for the overall prize include Simon Horsfield and Katie Burridge who are set to race their 2000 doublehander at the Grafham Belle on the weekend of Saturday 29 May and Sunday 30 May.

With the forecast looking warm and sunny for a change, there's still time to enter the event at

Online entry closes at 23:59 hours on Wednesday 26 May.

Singlehanders such as the Solo, Streaker, Phantom and Laser Radial will do battle against each other, while the Albacore and RS400 represent variations on the classic hiking doublehanders.

Along with the 505s, Andy Couch's VX One sportsboat will be one of the fastest as well as Colin and Oly Murray's Norfolk Punt, always hard to beat if the breeze is light.

All boats will carry GPS trackers provided by SailRacer, which help spectators to follow the action both on site and online, and also determine the results from some of the sub-category competitions as part of the Great British Sailing Challenge (GBSC).

Enter at

Prize and Ranking Categories

  • SpeedSix Challenge for fastest boat on handicap
  • Trident Top Club
  • Craftinsure Family Ranking
  • RestartSailing Top Class
GBSC Youth, GBSC Junior, GBSC 19-30, GBSC 31-60, GBSC Masters, GBSC Top Lady

GBSC Fast Asymmetric, GBSC Slow Asymmetric, GBSC Fast Symmetric, GBSC Slow Symmetric

Co-organisers Andy Rice and Simon Lovesey are working with title sponsor Seldén Mast to continue to run the 2020/21 edition of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series through to a concluding event at Rutland Water, the rescheduled John Merricks Tiger Trophy on the last weekend of August.

With so many of the original events cancelled over the winter, and only the Datchet Flyer able to take place in December 2020, other events this spring/summer have been brought in to create some kind of Series before, hopefully, we see a return to normality for this winter's edition of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series.

Current leader of the revamped Series, because of his victory at Datchet last December, is Ian Dobson in a Solo. Horsfield & Burridge sailed their 2000 to runners-up at the first event, so go to Grafham well placed overall.

The Events

The following events will count towards the scoring of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series 2020/21:

  • Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water SC, 6-7 December 2020
  • Grafham Belle, Grafham Water SC, 29-30 May 2021
  • Bala Long Distance, Bala SC, 19-20 June 2021
  • Tiger Trophy, Rutland Water SC, 28-29 August 2021
You can find out more about the Series at

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