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Gilbert & McGrane's 505 wins the Draycote Dash

by Andy Rice 23 Nov 2021 10:26 GMT 20-21 November 2021

One of the most successful UK dinghy partnerships - Gilbert & McGrane - win the opening event of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series in their 505, the 87-entry Draycote Dash...

Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane have won the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, the opening event of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series. Taking place over the weekend of 20 & 21 November 2021, The Dash attracted 87 entries.

Light airs greeted the fleet on Saturday for four back-to-back races. One of the successes of last season's Series, Luke Fisher was fast out of the blocks in the first three races, the Emberton Park competitor sailing his RS Vareo to scores of 1,2,1 under the Great Lakes handicap numbers. With competitors counting their best three scores from the day, Fisher would be able to drop his 11th place in the final heat of the afternoon.

As ever, and maybe even more so after the curtailed racing calendar of the past 18 months, the Draycote Dash attracted a good turnout of a great variety of dinghies. Barry Wolfenden came out on top among the Hadron H2 singlehanders, while in the Phantoms Mike Webster was top dog in a class that attracted sailors like reigning National Champion Ian Stone, offshore veteran Nigel King, and Ian Pinnell, the multiple national and world dinghy champion.

Last race of the afternoon went to the RS400 sailed by Sam Knight and Chris Bownes from Bartley Sailing Club, but it was Fisher who held top spot at the end of day one. Netley Sailing Club's Gilbert and McGrane blotted their copybook with a black flag disqualification for an over-eager start in race one, but made amends with a solid 3,4,3.5 in the other three races.

Sunday arrived with a good breeze which grew into a great breeze after the three Toppers had launched. Two of these were stalwarts of the last four years: Joe Rowe and Clemmie Middle, along with Joe's younger brother Oscar (all from Draycote). Joe set off with great purpose and held the lead all the way until the final minute before the end of the two-hour race when he was overtaken first by Joe Scurrah in his ILCA 6 and then the 505 of Gilbert and McGrane. This was an epic achievement since Joe had been sailing for 42 more minutes than the 505.

With Fisher's RS Vareo only managing a 21st place in the non-discardable result of the Pursuit Race, Gilbert and McGrane's victory on Sunday was sufficient to bring them overall victory in the Draycote Dash. They were also the fastest boat on the water according to the SailRacer tracking system, with a sustained speed of 12.32 knots on the Sunday. On handicap adjusted speed, Graham Hall was fastest in his Challenger.

Knight and Bownes were overall event runners-up in the RS400 and Saturday's winner Fisher ended up in third overall. After a hat trick of overall victories in the past three editions of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series, Simon Horsfield and Katie Burridge have moved on from sailing their 2000, re-learning the ropes in the RS500 and proving that they are mortal after all, coming in 49th at the Dash. No doubt they will get better throughout the winter season.

Event organiser Jeremy Atkins was pleased with how the event had turned out. Draycote Water Sailing Club has taken covid measures seriously, but in a way that doesn't get too much in the way of good competition. "Drive-through registration worked well, minimising the time that competitors needed to spend before getting themselves and their boats ready for the water.

"It was really good to see close competition in classes like the 505 and Hadron fleets. We managed to get results out before people came ashore although we had to remove the offset. Once this error was resolved we got the results fully sorted by 7pm. It was really good to see such a colourful turnout of boats on Draycote and we hope people enjoyed the weekend."

Next event in the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series is the Datchet Flyer on the weekend of 11 & 12 December. Secure your place early by booking your spot here:

The Events

The following events are in the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series 2021/22:

  • Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water SC
    20 & 21 November 2021
  • Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
    11 & 12 December 2021
  • Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales SC
    27 December 2021
  • Burghfield Breezer, Burghfield Sailing Club
    27 December 2021
  • Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
    2 January 2022
  • Bloody Mary (TBC), Queen Mary Sailing Club
    8 January 2022
  • King George Gallop, King George Sailing Club
    22 January 2022
  • John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
    5 & 6 February 2022
  • Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club
    19 February 2022

You can find out more about the Series at

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