|Draycote Dash||24/25 Nov|
|Brass Monkey||27 Dec|
|Grafham Grand Prix||30 Dec|
|Bloody Mary||12 Jan|
|Steve Nicholson||23 Feb (re-scheduled)|
|Tiger Trophy||2/3 Feb|
Can Jason Belben defend his title in the foiling Moth? What has been a windy start to the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series looks set to continue at this weekend’s Virtual Rigger 40th Bloody Mary in London. The forecast for the pursuit race classic is a moderate to strong easterly breeze, but that hasn’t stopped 256 boats entering in advance, with the prospect of many more entering on the day.
There are 53 classes entered, with the best represented fleet being the Toppers who, as the slowest boats in the line-up, will be first to start at midday. Last to start, a staggering 86 minutes after the Toppers, will be the foiling International Moths, with former Olympic representative Jason Belben of Stokes Bay looking to defend his title from last year. Among those challenging him in the Moth is a newcomer to the class, Rob Greenhalgh, the Volvo Ocean Race winner and former 14 World Champion who won the Bloody Mary a few years back in an International 14. Most fancied of this year’s 14 entries will be reigning European Champions, father-and-son duo Andy and Tom Partington who revel in the breeze.
Talent is scattered throughout the range of different classes, and predicting a winner has become harder than ever now that the Great Lakes handicap numbers have created a more level playing field. Having said that, the Fireballs appear to have benefited from the strong winds at the other events of GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series already held this season. Reigning Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard won at the Brass Monkey and the Grafham Grand Prix during the Christmas period, and now with crew Andy ‘Shandy’ Tompson the Sheffield Viking is looking for a hat trick. Before he can think about winning the event, however, Gillard will have to stay ahead of some tough competition in his own class, not least multiple Fireball World Champions Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend.
Currently leading the SailJuice Series is Northampton RS600 sailor Peter Nelson who will enjoy the strong wind forecast as much as the Fireballs. Andy Couch won a light-airs Bloody Mary a few years back, although the Phantom sailor believes he will struggle to match that this year, particularly if the breeze remains strong. Another great Phantom sailor - well, a great sailor in almost any boat - is many-time winner of the Endeavour Trophy Nick Craig who this year is having a go in the Devoti D-1 singlehander. Can Craig take the trophy in this, the 40th year of the most famous dinghy handicap race in the world?
You can follow all the action live, either by visiting Queen Mary Sailing Club and enjoying the live commentary, or listening online to professional TV and radio broadcaster Steve Ancsell. Simon Lovesey of SailRacer will be writing blow-by-blow live updates throughout the race, and you can catch the blog and radio commentary at: www.sailjuiceseries.com
Article Author Andy Rice 11/1/2013 20:18
Photo © Steve Arkley