8 January 2018
Ben Schooling sailed his Musto Skiff to victory in the first ever edition of the King George Gallop, the fifth event in this season’s GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series. It was a cold northerly breeze of 10 knots, with the moderate breezes throwing possibilities wide open for who could win this pursuit race, a 2.5 hour trek around a 2.5 mile-lap course on King George Reservoir in North London.
For more than the first two hours of the race, Yana Skvortsova’s Topper held the lead until the 15-year-old from Island Barn Reservoir was overtaken by a Wayfarer sailed by Andrew and Tom Wilson from Datchet Water.
The breeze built half way through the race and the SailRacer trackers were predicting that the fastest boats might pull through to the front, with Dan Holman and Graeme Oliver’s International 14 hitting a sustained 11.44 knots boatspeed. However, the breeze started to drop in the dying stages of the race, which saw five laps of the course completed by the time Schooling was approaching the finish line.
Schooling is a pass master of light and variable conditions, and the Stokes Bay sailor was systematically working his way through the slower boats. With ten minutes to go, the front of the race was in sight, with Schooling speeding past the Wilsons in their Wayfarer, travelling at over 50 per cent faster on the close reach at the end of lap four. By the finish Ben was 0.2 mile ahead of the second placed Wayfarer, who managed to hold off Andy Couch in his Phantom.
Given the large spread of boats at the finish, and the challenge of the asymmetrics gybing downwind compared to the more direct route taken by the symmetrical and non-spinnaker classes, the SailRacer trackers were able to produce accurate finishing positions.
Andrew Snell finished 8th in his K1 keelboat, a result good enough for him to retain the lead in the overall Series, although Alistair Goodwin’s Laser is up a place to second overall, and just three points off the lead.
It was brave of King George Sailing Club to take on a new event for the first time at short notice, but it went down very well with competitors. Regular Series competitor James George, sailing a 420 with his son Harry, commented: “I think it was one of the most all-round welcoming and enjoyable events yet. Certainly the best I have sailed over the past year in terms of organisation and chilled out atmosphere.”
Next event in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series is the John Merricks Tiger Trophy, taking place at Rutland Sailing Club on 3 & 4 February.
Enter at: www.sailjuiceseries.com
King George Gallop
Ben Schooling (Musto Skiff)
First Youth and Lady
Yana Skvortsova (Topper) - 13th
SpeedSix fastest sustained speed (unadjusted)
Dan Holman and Graeme Oliver (Int 14)
SpeedSix fastest sustained speed (adjusted)
The following regattas constitute the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series 2017/18):
Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
18 & 19 November 2017
Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
9 & 10 December 2017
Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club
27 December 2017
Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
30 December 2017
King George Gallop, King George Sailing Club (replaces cancelled Bloody Mary)
6 January 2018
John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
3 & 4 February 2018
Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club
17 February 2018
You can find out more about the Series here: www.SailJuiceSeries.com