SAILING PICTURES: Olympians and Paralympians join Draycote Dash

A wide range of boat classes took part in this years Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash  PICTURES BY MALCOLM LEWIN
A wide range of boat classes took part in this years Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash PICTURES BY MALCOLM LEWIN

World and national champions enjoy two days of racing

Last weekend Draycote Water saw a colourful display of more than 100 racing boats from all over the country take part in the annual Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash regatta. In amongst the competitive club-level sailors, there was also a number of olympians and paralympians, as well as world and national champions. They all took part in two days of racing in the first of seven flagship events over the next few months which make up the GJW Sailjuice Winter Series.

Winner Craig Williamson with his prize and, from left, Will Whittaker (Rear Commodore Sail), Jeremy Atkins (Commodore) and, right, Andy Rice, founder of the Sailjuice series.

Winner Craig Williamson with his prize and, from left, Will Whittaker (Rear Commodore Sail), Jeremy Atkins (Commodore) and, right, Andy Rice, founder of the Sailjuice series.

The 109 entrants were not deterred by the prospect of Storm Angus coming through and were rewarded by light to medium winds for the four back-to-back races on Saturday. Sunday morning saw the tail end of the storm which made way for good sailing conditions in the 120-minute Pursuit Race.

Winner overall was Midlands sailor, Craig Williamson, sailing a Laser. Craig grew up sailing at Staunton Harold near his home in Derby. He is currently studying for a PhD in Sports Science at Portsmouth University and sails at Hayling Island SC.

Craig was runner-up two years ago and this time sailed consistently well in all four Saturday races to hold the overnight lead and was able to build up a strong lead in the Pursuit Race so the result was never in doubt.

The Great Lakes Handicapping system creates a level playing field for all types of boat, so slower boats can still compete with the modern faster designs, with the result that there were nine different types of boat in the first 10. To prove the point, second place went to Fergus Barnham and Andy Hunter from Northampton Sailing Club, sailing their GP14, a boat designed in 1949.

Craig Williamson brings his Laser back to shore after sealing victory.

Craig Williamson brings his Laser back to shore after sealing victory.

Draycote youngsters, 13-year-old Katheryn Byne and 12-year-old Phoebe Jones did the club proud coming 13th overall and carrying off both the Junior and Lady prizes in their RS Feva. Highest placed Draycote sailor was Nick Bolland in his RS 300 who placed a very creditable sixth.

“It was a fantastic event,” said Club Commodore Jeremy Atkins, “bringing top sailors from around the country to our club, emphasising once again what a great place Draycote Water is for sailing.”

Leamington-based watersports publisher Fernhurst Books sponsored the prizes. First prize was Bob Fisher’s ‘An Absorbing Interest: The America’s Cup, A History 1851-2003’, worth £250. Other prizes included copies from newly published ‘Sail to Win’ series.

Draycote Water Sailing Club has about 700 active sailing members, ranging in age from seven to over 70. “Sailing is a great sport for all ages, and a chance to learn new skills and make friends while getting lots of exercise and fresh air,” said Atkins. “It is not necessarily all about racing. There are so many different types of sailing dinghy out there, there is sure to be one to suit every age and physical ability, whether you just want to potter around on a Saturday afternoon or take part in racing in modern performance dinghies.”

Local sailors Katheryn Byne and Phoebe Jones won the Junior and Lady prizes in an RS Feva.

Local sailors Katheryn Byne and Phoebe Jones won the Junior and Lady prizes in an RS Feva.

The Club provides a range of training courses accredited by the RYA, sailing’s national governing body, to take participants from beginner level up to racing. It is also a specialist centre for the windsurfing training. To book courses, contact (01788) 814418.

Draycote Water Sailing Club is situated in the Severn Trent Country Park between Rugby and Southam and is open with safety boat cover every day of the year except Christmas Day.

For general enquiries please contact 01788 814418 or visit the Club website: http://www.draycotewater.co.uk

Nick Bolland, centre, was Draycote Water SCs highest placed sailor in sixth place in an RS300

Nick Bolland, centre, was Draycote Water SCs highest placed sailor in sixth place in an RS300

Draycote Water sailor, Eleanor Craig, was third Junior and second Lady in a Laser Radial.

Draycote Water sailor, Eleanor Craig, was third Junior and second Lady in a Laser Radial.