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After the first two rounds of the Great British Sailing Challenge, a Fireball holds the lead under the GPS-based Dynamic Handicapping ranking system

Sam Mettam and Tim Saunders have taken up the lead in the rankings for the Great British Sailing Challenge after the second round at the Datchet Flyer in early December. It was a very windy and challenging weekend for the 83 boats, which was won by RS600 National Champion Richard Smith who revelled in the gusty conditions with his reduced rig.

Using the Great Lakes handicap numbers, a variation on the standard RYA PY numbers, the trapeze boats came to the fore, not least the 420s who held the top three places at the conclusion of three bruising races on the Saturday.

However, some parallel scoring is taking place at these events, due to the fact that some of the events in the Selden SailJuice Winter Series are also serving as preliminary events to establish the inaugural season of the Great British Sailing Series.

Co-organiser of the Series and the number-cruncher behind the new GPS-based handicapping system, SailRacer’s Simon Lovesey, explained the outcome from Datchet Water. “With two events across 9 races now completed, the GBSC is taking shape. With challenging conditions (20+ knots) on day 1 of the Datchet Flyer, three 420s held the top three places overnight, with these boats excelling in the gusty breeze. Obviously they were well sailed in very testing conditions, but the 420 is also operating in its optimum space thanks to high amounts of righting moment and a small rig that’s relatively easy to depower.

“The new system of Dynamic Handicapping is designed to take the in-built class advantages and disadvantages into account. So where the 420 would get a leg-up on handicap in lighter airs compared with its standard Great Lakes number, the advantage of the 420s in the windy conditions was pegged back for Datchet. As a result, after the GBSC algorithm was applied, these three ended up in 7th, 9th and 11th positions from Saturday’s racing, with the slower hiking boats given a boost.”

Based on the GBSC Performance Index, which aims to compare different boats across different conditions based on GPS and weather data, the Fireball of Sam Mettam and Tim Saunders top the leaderboard. The GBSC Performance Index provides comparison across different divisions (Fast Asymmetric, Fast Symmetric, Slow Asymmetric, Slow Symmetric) and various age groups. Trend analysis shows how each sailor is progressing, with Mark Greenstreet (Laser), making the most progress across the nine races held thus far.

http://events.sailracer.org/ eventsites/GBSC_performance_ v2.asp?eventid=211504

Sitting behind Mettam and Saunders in the overall GBSC standings are two Lasers, in second last year’s SailJuice Winter Series champion Alistair Goodwin followed by Ben Flower in third.

It’s early days for the Dynamic Handicapping, but Simon Lovesey says the feedback from the system is helping to shape a number of categories that will become more prominent during 2019. Simon and co-organiser of the GBSC, Andy Rice of Sailjuice.com, will be running a webinar in January to discuss progress and to answer questions about the handicapping and scoring. The third event in the GBSC is also round three of the Selden SailJuice Winter Series, the Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey, which is booked to capacity, with 70 boats set to compete on 27 December.

The confirmed GBSC Calendar 2018/19 (other events still to be added)


Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club

17 & 18 November 2018

Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club

8 & 9 December 2018

Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club

27 December 2018

Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club

16 February 2019

King George Gallop, King George Sailing Club

16 & 17 March 2019

Derwent Dambuster, Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club

11 & 12 May 2019

Wilsonian River Challenge, Wilsonian Sailing Club

1 & 2 June 2019

The Bala Long Distance, Bala Sailing Club

22 & 23 June 2019

Mountbatten Centre, Plymouth

8 to 10 August 2019

The Ullswater Ultimate, Ullswater Yacht Club

17 & 18 August 2019

Grand Finals, Rutland Water Sailing Club

28 & 29 September 2019

Want your Club to host a GBSC event? Contact Andy Rice at andy@sailjuice.com

How do I get to the Grand Finals?

The Grand Finals of the GBSC are designed to celebrate the best of everything in small-boat racing in Great Britain. So there are many ways to qualify....

Finish in the top 10 of the travellers’ series (based on your best three results)

Top qualifiers in a number of boat categories:

Fast Asymmetric

Fast Non-Asymmetric

Slow Asymmetric

Slow Non-Asymmetric



Best Improver

Most attended

Any boat valued at less than £1000

Top qualifiers in a number of age and other categories, for example:

Youth (Under 19)

Master (Over 60)


Two Generations (two people sailing together, minimum age gap of 18 years - could be parent/child but not necessarily)

There will also be a number of ‘wild card’ invites available based on various criteria.

Hang on, but what even IS the Great British Sailing Challenge?

It’s a series of handicap racing events that take place throughout the year, and it’s open to pretty much any sail-powered craft. The Challenge will involve events throughout the whole year, with the target of around 100 boats taking part in each event on larger waters, and running events close to capacity on smaller lakes and reservoirs. Competing sailors will earn ranking points from each event they compete in, with the top 100 sailors invited to a winner-takes-all-final in Autumn 2019 to award the best sailors of the year.

Who came up with the idea?

The idea comes from the organisers of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series which has been one of the big success stories of the past decade. Organised by Andy Rice of SailJuice.com (sailing journalist and marketer) and Simon Lovesey of SailRacer (event organiser and GPS tracking expert) is about to enter its 10th season and this year is sponsored by mast maker Seldén. If you’re familiar with the SailJuice Winter Series, then this will give you an idea of what’s on offer, except with a few key differences.....

All Year Round

The Seldén SailJuice Winter Series takes place in the cold months. The GBSC takes place throughout the year and will incorporate some of the events in the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series as well as a number of other existing events, along with some brand new ones too.

Great Lakes and Dynamic Handicapping

One of the key reasons for the success of the SailJuice Winter Series is the introduction of the Great Lakes handicap numbers, a refined version of the standard RYA PY numbers. We’re taking the proven formula of the Great Lakes numbers for the jump-off point for the Great British Sailing Challenge, and then we’re using GPS trackers on the competing boats to start analysing the numbers in greater detail. We call this ‘Dynamic Handicapping’. Whereas the numbers in the Great Lakes are analysed and altered once a year, GPS-based Dynamic Handicapping enables much faster and more frequent analysis of the relative performance of different types of boat. Like Strava, the mobile app which has revolutionised the cycling world, or Park Run and what it has done to popularise running, the organisers are taking a ‘Big Data’ approach to the sailing world.

Over time, this will make it possible to produce accurate handicaps for:

  • different wind strengths
  • older, less competitive boats
  • sailors of different abilities, from virtual beginners to world-class athletes.

The sailing calendar’s already busy, do we really need more events?

It’s true, we’ve got loads of sailing events taking place almost every weekend of the year, especially during the summer months. But the majority of those events are not very well attended, especially some of the single-class open meetings where some of the less popular classes sometimes struggle to attract more than 10 boats. We don’t think that’s a sustainable way of running an event, either from the class’s point of view, or the club’s. With a multiclass approach to open meetings, we can create the scale for events that are more fun, and that a club really wants to host.


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