Scorpion wins series after tense showdown at Draycote

Peter Gray and Rachael Rhodes won the SailJuice Global Warm-Up 2012 after sailing their Scorpion to 2nd place in the final of the five events in the series, the Draycote Dash last weekend.

"It has been a great series," said Gray, who raced with three different crews over the five events. He raced three events with his girlfriend Rachael, the Bloody Mary with his regular Scorpion crew Richard Pepperdine, and the Steve Nicholson Trophy with last-minute stand-in, Alex Hayman. "Alex did a fantastic job," said Gray. "We were third at Northampton. The Bloody Mary for us was a bit of a disaster when I sailed low on one reach and got rolled by about 40 boats. In fact my girlfriend Rachael beat me in another Scorpion at Queen Mary, so she probably has a better Series score than me!"

Draycote Dash

Going into the final weekend, the Scorpion was one of four boats with a serious chance of taking the overall title. Probably best placed was the Phantom, with Andrew Wilde looking to discard his no-show at the Bloody Mary and get a good replacement result at Draycote in the one-discard series.

This fact was not lost on the Fireball which led the SailJuice Series going into Draycote. Sam Mettam and Richard Anderton decided that with a light-wind forecast, their best form of defence would be to go on the offence. Having started in the Fast Handicap start, they then waited three minutes for the Medium Handicap start and proceeded to match race Wilde off to one side of the race course.

Having been prevented from getting a good result in race one, Wilde was upset to put it mildly, and withdrew from further racing at Draycote. "I found match racing a faster boat was impossible as every time I got away he just used speed to catch up," said Wilde. "When I realised this was his plan for the weekend I went home as I didn't want to spend the weekend not racing."

Mettam also applied some match racing moves to the Scorpion and Ian Morgan's Laser, but then reverted to racing in the more conventional manner. Mettam and Anderton later regretted applying such aggressive tactics and have decided to pass up their prize for finishing 3rd overall. Mettam wrote a statement explaining his change of heart: "I thought it might be appropriate for me to say something about our tactics at the weekend. There were four boats in contention for the SailJuice Series title that sailed at the Draycote Dash. Our preference was always to use ‘normal racing' to try to win. However, given the conditions did not look in any way favourable for the Fireball, we decided to try to give the three other boats 2 bad scores. It [Draycote Dash] was effectively an 8-race one-discard series, and we didn't want to completely mess up peoples' weekends.

"We thoroughly checked the legality in advance and certainly would not have done it had the boats been racing as different fleets. However on reflection I am not sure it was within the spirit of the type of racing. In the conditions of the races we match raced in, the Phantom and Scorpion were virtually as fast or even faster than us on the water and had the advantage of more manoeuverability, but the Laser was slower. I would support a new sailing instruction for handicap events to remove this pressure/temptation. We have decided that any prize we might have received will be given to a youth sailing organisation.

"I also think that the sport should look towards conditions-based handicapping. It would help in many situations that have happened through the series and I'm sure at clubs week in, week out. I am convinced it is possible to model such a system.

"Finally, congratulations to Pete Gray, Rich Pepperdine and Rachael Rhodes for sailing so well throughout the Series - worthy winners." Morgan's Laser was 2nd overall, the Fireball 3rd.

Peter Gray bore Mettam and Anderton no ill will for their attempt to match race them. "It's what we do in racing, part of the sport," he said. "But I never thought it was going to work for them doing what they did. They probably would have stood a better chance [of winning] by just concentrating on their own races."

This was the third year the SailJuice Global Warm-Up has run. Compared with last year, like for like entries were up 18% to 620 boats from 92 classes. For winning the 2012 Series, Gray and Rhodes win £200 of Rooster Sailing gear and a £100 voucher from Holt, which they will receive this weekend at the RYA Volvo Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace in London.

Morgan wins a £200 voucher to spend with Hyde Sails, but with Mettam and Anderton deciding to forego their prize of a £200 voucher to spend with Ovington Boats, it has yet to be determined which charity will benefit from their decision.

In terms of prizes won, Ian Morgan is the biggest winner, also earning himself a brand new Laser sail courtesy of Laser Performance, and £100 to spend with Holt, due to being top boat in the class which attracted the most entries across the five events. The Laser attracted the most, with 35 entries, followed by the Topper with 33 and the Merlin Rocket with 32.

There are many other prize winners. For example, Peter Nelson won the £100 prize from RS Sailing for finishing top RS boat with his RS600 in 6th overall. Daniel Wigmore wins a Laser Radial sail from Laser Performance, and ‘Last Boat Afloat' prize goes to Olly Hopkins in the Phantom, being the lowest-placed boat to record a finishing place score in all five events.

You can see a full list of prizes and prizewinners here:

And if you want to find out more about the Series, Simon Lovesey of SailRacer will be making a presentation at the Dinghy Show this Sunday, at 1330 hours on the Main Stage.

Thanks to the many sponsors of the Series:

    ·    Laser Performance     ·    Rooster Sailing    ·    Holt    ·    Hyde Sails     ·    Ovington Boats     ·    RS Sailing    ·    Yachts & Yachting    ·

Thanks to Queen Mary Sailing Club in their role as the Organising Authority for the Series, and also to SailRacer for their support, through provision of series website, scoring and online entry for individual events.

Final Top 10 Results after five events

Position/ Class/ Sailors/ Points

1. Scorpion - Peter Gray & Rachael Rhodes (mostly)          70.47
2. Laser - Ian Morgan                        78.07
3. Fireball - Sam Mettam & Richard Anderton            88.66
4. Merlin Rocket - Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis            140.19
5. Phantom - Tim Andrews                        166.82
6. RS600 - Peter Nelson                        212.48
7. Osprey - Mike Pickering &  Mike Priddle            253.67
8. Matt Sargent & Clare Sargent                    275.46
9. Phantom - Andrew Wilde                    324.80
10. Laser Radial - Kerry Morgan                    528.39

To see a full list of Overall Results in the SailJuice Global Warm-Up 2012, click here:


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