Big Names lined up to compete at Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash


First event in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series attracts Craig, Cumbley, Gillard, Schooling, Sims - and many other dinghy hot shots

Some big names are lining up to compete at the opening event of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series next weekend. Among the early entries for the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash are some big names in the 505 class, even if they’re better known as stars from the Fireball fleet. Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard is teaming up with Fireball National Champion Richard Anderton in a Five-Oh, and among their closest competition will be Nathan Batchelor crewed by Sam Pascoe, who narrowly missed out on winning the 2014 Fireball Worlds in Thailand. They too are taking their new Five-Oh out for a spin.

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Tom Gillard was third at last year’s Draycote Dash, finishing behind Ben Schooling who won in his Musto Skiff, with 2nd taken by the eventual winner of last season’s Winter Series, Michael Sims in his Solo. Both Sims and Schooling are back in their singlehanders, and joining them is a strong contingent of Devoti D-Zeros, with more than 10 already entered.

Other strong contenders include Charlie Cumbley in an OK, Andy Couch in a Phantom (3rd at Draycote two years ago), and Nick Craig/ Toby Lewis in a Merlin Rocket.

Organiser of the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Chris Gandy, explained the format: “On Saturday we plan to run at least four average-lap handicap races, with first race not before 11am. Then on Sunday it’s a 120-minute pursuit race.”


As the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series has grown over the past five seasons, classes are increasingly using the Winter Series as a platform for their own off-season fleet battle. Lasers always have a good home-fleet turn-out at each venue with a total of 125 across the three sail configurations taking part in the 2013/14 Series, led by Craig Williamson in the full rigs and David Paul in the Radials (who did 7 out of 8 events). 

For the 2014/15 edition of the GJW Direct Winter Series, fleet sponsors will be assigned to selected fleets.  Any class wishing to have their results extrapolated after each event can send a photo, a few words and confirmation of how many of the winter events they would like to use for their own winter series to appear on the 'Classes' page of the website.  Of these, those with the largest fleets of travellers will be allocated prizes by the series sponsors: Lennon Sails, Overboard and Trident.

The first class to record 15 total entries with at least 3 boats entering 3 events or more will be the first to be allocated to a sponsor, with further fleets nominated as the winter goes on.

Gul's sponsorship will this season be spread around all the events with a spot prize at every venue for 47th place, to celebrate the 47 years that Gul has been providing innovative solutions for keeping you warm on the water.


This season you must count your best four results from these eight events. Competing at more events will give you more shots at getting a set of four good scores to put on the board.

The following regattas constitute the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series 2014/2015:
Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 November 2014
Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 December 2014
Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club
Saturday 27 December 2014
Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
Sunday 28 December 2014
Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club
Saturday 3 January 2015
Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club
Saturday 10 January 2015
Steve Nicholson Trophy, Northampton Sailing Club
Saturday 24 January 2015
John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
Saturday 31 January & Sunday 1 February 2015


Historically, handicap racing has had its ‘bandit classes’ which run away with the prizes more often than perhaps they should. Part of the aim of this Series is to iron out the imbalances and create fairer competition, rewarding the best sailors regardless of which class they are racing. It’s an imperfect science, but our Great Lakes group of handicapping experts have spent the past five years analysing historic race data. There are a few changes to handicap numbers,  but nothing like as big as a few years ago. Why? Because the Great Lakes analysis is year by year homing in on the most accurate and fairest numbers for the many different classes that race in the UK. The proof? We’re seeing a far wider spread of classes taking individual race wins and overall regatta victories.


SailRacer’s online entry system means you can enter anything from one through to all eight events and make a single payment, saving you time and guaranteeing your place in advance. A number of the events were oversubscribed last year, and we’re expecting the same again this year. Enter early!


However! Please note that each of the events has its own criteria for what kinds of boat and class are eligible. You are responsible for checking that you are eligible to compete at each of your preferred events in the Series before submitting your entry online. A broad rule of thumb: If you’re planning to race a monohull dinghy that’s as fast or faster than a Topper, but no faster than a 49er (Big Rig), then you’re probably OK. International Moths, keelboats and multihulls should be careful because they are likely to be eligible for some, but not all, events in the Series.


Thanks to generous support from Series sponsors, we have some great prizes for competitors, but also for spectators. More details to follow in the coming weeks...

In addition to title sponsor GJW Direct Insurance (, the UK’s largest direct boat insurer, our silver-level sponsors are:

Gul - Experts in Performance Apparel

Trident - The Dinghy & Yacht Shop on the Web

Overboard - The Leaders in Waterproof Bags & Cases

Lennon Sails - A new brand with a great heritage



20/11/2014 22:44


Photo © Malcolm Lewin /

2015/16 Series
Draycote Dash22/23 November
Datchet Flyer13/14 December
Brass Monkey27 December
Oxford Blue3 January
Bloody Mary10 January
Steve Nicholson Trophy24 January
Tiger Trophy31 January/1 February
Grafham Grand Prix28 December 22 February



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The GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series is based around the UK's biggest winter handicap events. Sailors from many different dinghy fleets now consider this series as one of the main goals of their winter racing. With great prizes on offer, it attracts some of the best sailors in the country to compete against each other. The series is managed by SailRacer.

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