Datchet Water’s Ben Schooling raced his Musto Skiff to victory in the 2013 Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, the first event of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series.
After a slow start in the first race, Schooling hit form - counting a third and two firsts from Saturday’s round of four trapezoid course handicap races. A third in the pursuit race was enough to seal the victory.
Sailed in a light northerly breeze all weekend, 96 boats competed, with classes ranging from a Topper to the RS800s.
With a few people late to the start in the first race, the fast and medium fleets got away cleanly. The slow fleet were over-keen and a general recall followed. With the wind dying off during the first lap, two Solos snuck through for a second lap and as the breeze returned they capitalised to take first and second.
The second race was won by the RS400 of Robert Gullan and Jack Holder of the Royal Southern Yacht club.
Due to a wind shift, race officer Tom Vian and his team quickly reset the course to get the final races of the day away before the wind and light disappeared. Races three and four were won by the event winner, Ben Schooling.
Sunday dawned marginally warmer with a slight increase in breeze for the 120 minute pursuit race. The course set was an epic trip around the lake, ensuring no corner remained unvisited. Tom Smith in a Topper led the entire first lap but was eventually caught by the Miracles of Sam Mettam/Harry Jones and Jeremy Davy/Ethan Plank. Positions were tight right through the fleet and the race was eventually won by the Scorpion of Peter Gray and Rachael Rhodes from Staunton Harold Sailing Club. With just minutes to go, the yellow spinnaker of Ben Schooling appeared behind the leading bunch although the leading Scorpion and Solo who were having their own downwind tussle just managed to hold on to finish in front.
On being asked the secret to his success at Draycote, Ben Schooling offered five observations about his performance:
1) I’ve had a lot of practice this year in those conditions 4-14kts and since the Europeans my boat handling is pretty sharp. The Inlands the weekend before had been similar, if a little lighter.
2) The Musto is able to get planing in relatively light breeze, before most other more conventional dinghies so I was able to use this to my advantage off starts to break into clean breeze early.
3) Keeping my nose clean when passing other boats. It pays to give slower boats a wide berth when overtaking where at all possible. Cutting it too close can lead to luffing and other adverse tactics so I just try to avoid confrontation – going low of the rhumb line on reaches and climbing up to the mark at the end.
4) The majority of the gains are made downwind so I was really trying to make the most of these sections, especially in the pursuit race, to make up ground.
5) Having other competitive Musto Skiffs around also helped. I had a good battle with Sam Barker (recent Inland champion) and Ian Martin and we kept pushing each other round the course.
Draycote Water would like to thank their event sponsors Fernhurst Books for supporting the event and providing some very nice and worthwhile prizes. We hope the winners enjoy their new reading material! The next event in the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series is the Datchet Flyer on 14&15 December.
Top Six overall at Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash
1st – Ben Schooling (Musto Skiff 487) Datchet Water Sailing Club
2nd – Michael Sims (Solo 5302) Carsington
3rd – Tom Gillard (Solo 5469) Sheffield Viking/Northampton
4th – Peter Gray/Rachael Rhodes (Scorpion 2022) Staunton Harold
5th – Alan Johnson/Paula Fisher (Enterprise 19876) SCYC & SSC
6th – Craig Williamson (Laser 200906) Staunton Harold
and to enter other events in the Series: http://www.SailJuiceSeries.com
Photo Credit ©: Malcolm Lewin / www.malcolmlewinphotography.co.uk