SAILING: Sailors brave icy winds at Draycote Water Dash Regatta

Winning team Tom Gillard and Andy Couch show the way in a 505 (Pictures by Malcolm Lewin)

Winning team Tom Gillard and Andy Couch show the way in a 505 (Pictures by Malcolm Lewin)

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Current world champions among entrants

PICTURES BY MALCOLM LEWIN

Top performing youngsters Arran Holman and Billy Ozanne enjoy the conditions in a 29er

Top performing youngsters Arran Holman and Billy Ozanne enjoy the conditions in a 29er

Current world champions were among nearly 200 sailors who travelled from all over the country to brave icy winds and take part in Draycote Water Sailing Club’s annual “Draycote Dash” regatta.

More than 120 boats, both single- and double-handers, registered in advance to take part despite forecasts for high winds and zero temperatures.

This two-day event over 21-22 November at Draycote Water was the first of six in the winter Sailjuice Series which takes in some the most pre-eminent inland sailing clubs in the country.

Many of the faint-hearted saw the weather and decided not to go out on Saturday, but more than 50 boats launched into 35-knot winds and posted the results to prove it. Sunday’s weather was more benign and many of those who had registered came just for the double-points 120-minute pursuit race, bringing their boats from Lymington, Brightlingsea and even Ireland to take part.

Tim Cripps and Amy Clay keep their eyes peeled in a 2000

Tim Cripps and Amy Clay keep their eyes peeled in a 2000

The event was won by current Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard and his crew Andy Couch racing a 505. In second place were GP14 World Champions Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe. Highest placed Draycote sailor was Chris Brown who came 11th in his Solo.

“It was a fantastic event,” said new Club Commodore Jeremy Atkins. “And with world champions in first and second, it was an incredibly high standard.”

Draycote Water Sailing Club has about 800 active sailing members, ranging in age from seven to over 70. “Sailing is a great sport for youngsters, enabling them 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,”

Draycote Dash winners with their prizes, a �250 copy of 'An Absorbing Interest - The America's Cup: A History 1851-2003'; from left, Jeremy Atkins (Commodore), Tom Gillard, Andy Couch, Rachel Atkins (Fernhurst Books) and Will Whittaker (Rear Commodore Sail).

Draycote Dash winners with their prizes, a �250 copy of 'An Absorbing Interest - The America's Cup: A History 1851-2003'; from left, Jeremy Atkins (Commodore), Tom Gillard, Andy Couch, Rachel Atkins (Fernhurst Books) and Will Whittaker (Rear Commodore Sail).

The Club provides a range of training courses accredited by the RYA, sailing’s national governing body, to take participants from beginners up to racing in performance dinghies. 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/

Three men in a boat!

Three men in a boat!

Calmer conditions on Sunday saw a variety of boats on the start line

Calmer conditions on Sunday saw a variety of boats on the start line

A traditional Enterprise, even with reefed-down sails, was still planning along

A traditional Enterprise, even with reefed-down sails, was still planning along

A Merlin Rocket works hard to stay upright in the conditions on Saturday.

A Merlin Rocket works hard to stay upright in the conditions on Saturday.