Craig Williamson sailed a blinder of a series in his Laser to win the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, the opening event of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series. The runner-up from two years ago barely put a foot wrong to beat the 109-entry handicap fleet with a superb display of precision sailing on tricky courses in congested traffic.
Results The Hayling Island/ University of Portsmouth sailor was overnight leader after four back-to-back handicap races on the Saturday at Draycote Water, with the winds varying between light to moderate. The threat of Storm Angus striking the reservoir near Rugby never materialised, although the Pursuit Race started out in moderate to strong conditions and gradually abated throughout the two-hour contest. Williamson won this race to cement his position at the top of the leaderboard and win the event ahead of a GP14 sailed by Fergus Barnham and Andy Hunter from Northampton Sailing Club.
The Great Lakes handicap numbers have been honed over the previous seven season of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series with the aim of giving any well-sailed boat a shot at winning. The accuracy of the numbers was vindicated by nine different classes occupying the top 10 places overall, with 10 different clubs represented. Only the Scorpion placed two teams in the top 10, with 2011/12 Winter Champion Peter Gray of Staunton Harold coming third crewed by Andy Davis.
GPS Tracking The predominantly light to medium breezes and gusty conditions didn’t suit the faster boats so much, although Ben Schooling’s third place on Sunday’s Pursuit Race dragged the Musto Skiff sailor up to fourth overall. But for a capsize during Saturday’s first race, the Stokes Bay sailor might have well challenged the slower handicap boats for a place on the podium, although most acknowledged that Williamson’s outstanding performance made him almost uncatchable at the top.
Winners of both the Junior’s and Lady’s prizes were the Draycote RS Feva duo of Katherine Byne and Phoebe Jones who came 13th overall, while the Master’s prize went to Mike Lyons in his Blaze, finishing 15th overall.
Jeremy Atkins had his hands full as sponsor, Club Commodore, chief organiser of the event and also assistant race officer to principal race officer Richard Pye, who was running the event for the first time. At one point Atkins was juggling starting flags with a bacon bap clenched between his teeth. Multitasking does not even cover Atkins’ different roles over the weekend, although he was ably backed up by a hard-working team at Draycote who have turned the event into a well-oiled machine. As owner of Fernhurst Books, the Commodore handed out the prizes which consisted of some of the publisher’s most popular titles including the successful ‘Sail to Win’ series. Atkins hoped that the books would be useful to some competitors. “Some of you can read,” he said, hopefully. And for those that can’t, the diagrams and photos should still provide some useful guidance.
It would help if the winner Williamson can read, because he was presented with a
copy of Bob Fisher’s history of the America’s Cup, An Absorbing Interest, a weighty historical tome worth £250.
Next up for the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series is the Datchet Flyer on the weekend of 10/11 December.
Photos And for competitor-name-searchable photos by Tim Olin/ Allen Brothers from the Dash:
Photo © Tim Olin