Tom Gillard and Rachael Gray raced their Merlin Rocket to victory at the 99-strong Datchet Flyer, Event #2 of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series...

Tom Gillard and Rachael Gray beat a 99-boat fleet in their Merlin Rocket to win the Datchet Flyer, the second event of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series. 

The Merlin narrowly beat Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane in their 505 with Jack Hopkins’ Laser (ILCA 7) edging out the GP14 of Nick Craig and Toby Lewis for third place. Olympic Champion Dylan Fletcher stepped into the back of a National 18 with Michael Wilson and Ben Batchelor to finish in fifth place.
It was a diverse entry of boats with 34 classes ranging from the Topper to the Formula 18 catamaran, along with Flying 15 keelboats and National 18s. There was a big 420 turnout, the class making this one of the go-to events for the winter season.
It was also diverse weather. Saturday suffered temperature and winds in single figures; Sunday soared with temperature and winds both in double figures, occasionally gusting 15 knots and even causing some capsizes.
Gillard and Gray won the opening race on Saturday, and the next race went to Patrick Overs in his Solo. Overnight after two races very close,  Laser (ILCA 7) sailor Ben Flower was just one point ahead of Gillard and Gray, just ahead of Laser (ILCA 7) sailor Jack Hopkins.
With the much better weather conditions on Sunday, PRO Seb Camisuli announced two races for the day, starting with Race 3 (average laps),  followed by a long-distance split-fleet pursuit race.
With starting for the pursuit split into fast and slow handicap divisions, the big RS Aero 7 fleet headed the charge for the fast fleet and enjoyed some close class racing,  with Steve Norbury,  Pete Barton and Ellie Craig all pushing hard to head the pack.
At the 100 minute mark, Gillard and Gray just managed to hold off the hard-charging 505 of Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane. In the slow handicap race, last winter's runner-up,  Luke Fisher’s RS Vareo won from Hopkins’ Laser (ILCA 7) and Nick Craig and Toby Lewis’s GP14.
The overall scores were very close, with the Merlin Rocket of Tom Gillard and Rachael Gray (9 pts),  505 of Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane (12 pts), Jack Hopkins Laser (ILCA 7 - 12.5 pts) taking the top three.

SpeedSix challenge

Not surprisingly on Saturday, SailRacer GPS trackers struggled to record any sustained speeds over five knots.
Sunday saw many boats posting speeds in double figures,  the F18 of Sam van de Velde the fastest with 13.19 knots in Race 3,  followed by Musto Skiff sailor Fred Cudmore at 11.19 knots.
Adjusted speeds
Freddie Sunderland in his Laser 4.7 (ILCA 4), was fastest on adjusted speed in the pursuit race, followed by Stuart Jones on his Contender.

Online prizegiving

Thursday evening. More details here:
Jon Emmett caught up with the winning crew Rachael Gray after victory at Datchet:
 Coming up at the end of this month are two events on the same day. Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey in the north, and Burghfield Breezer in the south. To enter these and other events in the Series, go here:
The following events are in the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series 2021/22:
Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water SC
20 & 21 November 2021
Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
11 & 12 December 2021
Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales SC
27 December 2021
Burghfield Breezer, Burghfield Sailing Club
27 December 2021
Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
2 January 2022 
Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club
8 January 2022
King George Gallop, King George Sailing Club
22 January 2022
John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club 
5 & 6 February 2022
Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club 
19 February 2022
You can find out more about the Series here:
Photo Credits: Tim Olin
Notes to editors:
Previous winners of the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series
2020/21 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge/ Natalie Johnson (2000)
2019/20 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge (2000)
2018/19 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge (2000)
2017/18 Alistair Goodwin (Laser)
2016/17 Matt Mee & Emma Norris (RS200)
2015/16 Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliffe (GP14)
2014/15 Nick Craig & various crews (Merlin Rocket)
2013/14 Michael Sims (Solo)
2012/13 Tom Gillard & Simon Potts (Fireball)
2011/12 Peter Gray & Rachael Rhodes (Scorpion)
2010/11 Andy Peake (Musto Skiff)
2009/10 Olly Turner & Richard Whitworth (Merlin Rocket) is the ‘how to sail and race faster’ website, with hundreds of articles and exclusive interviews with National, World and Olympic Champions. Professional sailing journalist and editor of, Andy Rice, came up with the concept of the SailJuice Winter Series (originally known as the SailJuice Global Warm-Up) as a way of increasing participation levels in dinghy racing during the off-season in the UK.
SailRacer manages event websites and processes online entry for major National, International, Youth and training events, providing online scoring, analysis and advanced sports presentation including GPS tracking and live video.
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14/12/2021 18:23


Photo © Tim Olin

20/21 Nov 21 Draycote Dash Draycote Water SC
11/12 Dec 21 Datchet Flyer Datchet Water SC
27 Dec 21 Brass Monkey Yorkshire Dales SC
27 Dec 21 Burghfield Breezer Burghfield SC
2 Jan 22 Grafham GP Grafham Water SC
8 Jan 22 Bloody Mary Queen Mary SC
22 Jan 22 King George Gallop King George SC
5/6 Feb 22 JMST Tiger Trophy Rutland SC
19 Feb 22 Oxford Blue Oxford SC