The 2024 edition of the King George Gallop delivered one of the tightest finishes ever in the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series...
So close were the points between the top three at the King George Gallop in north London, it took a while before it was confirmed that Ben McGrane and James Ross had sailed their Osprey to the narrowest of victories.
It was the sixth event in the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series and the sixth edition of the King George Gallop on King George Reservoir. A total of 79 entries from 38 different classes took advantage of the slightly milder weather after a spell of sub-zero temperatures across the UK.
With a fleet ranging from Toppers through to 505s and Musto Skiffs, the age of competitors was also very diverse, from 13 to 70 years old, and a big youth entry including six from Greig City Academy, based not far from King George.
The breeze might have averaged around 12 knots but some gusts touched up to 20 knots and caused even the best to suffer a capsize here and there. Around the long, 4.5km lap course, mere seconds separated the top finishers across the three races.
Draycote Water’s Imogen Wade and Hugo Valentine won the first race in their 420, holding the spinnaker very effectively on the tighter reaches where the more powerful asymmetric and symmetric boats struggled. In the next race McGrane and Ross powered their Osprey to first across the line, and in the final race it was Dan Vincent who came to the fore in his singlehanded Musto Skiff.
Initially it looked like Vincent had done enough to continue the Musto Skiff’s stranglehold on this season’s events. His win in the final race looked sufficient to give the Stokes Bay sailor the tiebreak ahead of the Osprey and 420. However, after a few scoring queries it was McGrane and Ross who were awarded the Gallop victory ahead of Wade and Valentine’s 420 with Vincent down to third overall.
Best of the non-trapeze boats was Pete Barton who hiked his RS Aero 7 to fourth overall ahead of Stuart Jones’s Contender. With the variable conditions the Great Lakes Handicap numbers delivered very close racing for many different classes. There were 11 different classes represented in the top 12 overall.
One of the great aspects of the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series is if you’ve got a sailing dinghy, chances are you’ll get a handicap number to race off. It didn’t always used to be this way, when some events only permitted classes with a well-established RYA PY number. But for example at the Gallop the lesser-spotted Snipe, raced by Bough Beech SC’s Peter Wolstenholme and Lloyd Robert, finished 8th overall. If you’ve got a boat and want to race it in some friendly competition, bring it to one of the remaining two events, the Tiger Trophy at Rutland SC and the Oxford Blue at Oxford SC.
Top youths at the Gallop were Wade and Valentine in the 420, with Yorkshire Dales SC’s Finlay Cochrane racing his ILCA 6 to second youth and top junior, in 13th place overall.
As they have always done since the very first year, the volunteers and members of King George Sailing Club delivered a well-run event with great humour and hospitality.
Top Speeds measured by the SailRacer GPS trackers...
Overall in the Series after six events
NEXT EVENT: THE JOHN MERRICKS TIGER TROPHY
Next up is the Tiger Trophy at Rutland SC on 3 & 4 February 2024.
Previous winners of the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series