6 February 2024
Various boats enjoyed their moment to shine at the Tiger Trophy but once again it was the unstoppable Sam Pascoe who powered his Musto Skiff singlehander to overall victory at the seventh event of this season’s wild and windy Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series.
There were 106 entries from 41 different classes who showed up for two days of handicap competition at Rutland Sailing Club. There was a broad spectrum of boats for the event, ranging from Toppers to foiling Waszps and International Moths, and a Sailjuice first, the presence of three iQFOiL foiling windsurfers, the equipment about to make its Olympic debut later this summer at Paris 2024.
The 420s were the largest fleet with 10 boats, making the Tiger a class designated event, and the chance for some of the country's top youth sailors to gain some valuable big fleet experience. The three-hulled Challengers had seven boats, seeing the welcome return of series regular Jack Alderdice who has had to sit out recent events due to ill health issues, but has enjoyed being able to follow previous events via the SailRacer GPS tracking. It was also good to see the SKUD of Jazz Turner and Adam Billany (Newhaven) join the other Sailability athletes. With VX One and RS21 sportsboats also competing, the Tiger was one of the most diverse entries seen this winter, or in fact any time on the UK racing scene.
Youth entries made up a quarter of the entries, including six boats from local Oakham School. Ages ranged from 9 to 80+, the youngest being Jessica Willars from Filey sailing with dad Jon in the family Miracle, with the family team completing all four races in what were at times very challenging conditions. The Miracle Class Association is using the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series to promote this great family boat and providing support to members who enter the events. The Miracles, like other classes, have recognised the opportunity of the Series to help promote and publicise their fleet and activities for the coming season.
Saturday: Three Perfect Races
With three back-to-back square-course races scheduled for the Saturday, it started out light, less than 10 knots, but soon picked up to full planing conditions, and foiling for a few too.
In Race 1, Gareth Davies foiled his International Moth to great effect, the Stone SC sailor flying around the course to complete 5 laps, whereas everyone else was doing 2-3 laps, with Davies winning on corrected time. For the next two races of the afternoon it was Sam Pascoe who came to the fore, winning both races in his Musto Skiff. Runners-up to Pascoe in Race 2 were the 420 of Arwen Fflur and Matthew Rayner from Pwllheli and runner-up in Race 3 was Emberton Park’s Luke Fisher in his RS Vareo.
It had been a great afternoon, “probably the best weather for the Tiger that we’ve seen in the past 10 years,” said principal race officer David Wilkins. “The wind was averaging around 12-15 knots and we had three great races and still got back in time for the Six Nations rugby at 16.45, and just before sunset after starting on time at 12.30. The fleets were always pushing the line but had no general recalls and just a maximum of three boats OCS on a U flag for each start.”
The Tiger Dinner went back to the traditional John Merricks favourite of Bangers and Mash, so all in all a great day, with a great atmosphere on shore throughout the event.
Sunday: Full-on Force 6 for the 420s
For Sunday, the forecast was showing very strong winds for the pursuit race. The breeze stayed at about 12 knots until about 5 minutes before the start but soon increased to nearly 20 knots with a few gusts a of up to 25 during the race. It was perfect 420 weather and the strong youth contingent made the most of it.
Topper siblings Joshua and Tabitha Blackman Northwood (Hunts SC) held the early lead on the four-mile course before the Challengers took the lead after 47 minutes, with Val Millward leading the charge of the three-hulled chariots.
Meanwhile the trapeze boats were closing in, the 420s on the charge. Behind them the Musto Skiffs and 505s tried to close the gap but the 420s held their lead and won cleanly. Pascoe briefly capsized and partially broke his tiller extension so did a great job to get up and going to finish fourth across the line behind a trio of 420s led by the unstoppable Fflur and Rayner, with Series regulars Imogen Wade and Hugo Valentine from Draycote Water in second and Burghfield’s Joe Jones and Hennie Burlton in third.
Sam Pascoe won overall, continuing his phenomenal run of form this winter. Fflur and Rayner’s pursuit race victory put them in second overall ahead of Stokes Bay’s Dan Vincent in a Musto Skiff. The strong breeze made the Tiger a trapeze boat benefit, with the top 11 boats all high performance classes. Finishing in 12th place was the first of the hiking boats, Dave Wade and Ben Rayner’s Scorpion from Draycote Water.
Top Speeds from SailRacer GPS Trackers (sustained over 20 seconds)
Gareth Davies Int Moth (Foiling) 24.17kts
Matthew Lea iQFOiL 19.03kts
Tom Jones iQFOiL 11 16.44kts
Michael and Samuel Dyer 29er 15.38kts
Sam Pascoe, Musto Skiff 16.19kts
Dan Vincent, Musto Skiff 14.91kts
Interestingly the top speeds for the foilers were achieved on Saturday and the best corrected speeds on Sunday.
Results from the Tiger Trophy
After seven events, and three discards, Sam Pascoe (Musto Skiff - Castle Cove SC) with five wins dominates. Last winter's runner up Ben Flower (ILCA 7 - Paignton SC), holds onto to second and will be competing at Oxford after returning from his trip to the World Championships in Australia. Sam Barker (Musto Skiff - Castle Cove SC), jumps 12 places to 3rd overall.
Here are the overall results after seven events
Not only have the Musto Skiffs been making the running on the water, their class race reports have been winners off the water too. See Sam Barker's warts-and-all report from the Tiger...
NEXT EVENT: THE OXFORD BLUE
It’s the final event of what has been a barnstorming winter season. Seven down and just one to go, it’s the Oxford Blue at Farmoor Reservoir. Date: 17 February. To sign up...
The following events are in the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series 2023/24:
Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, Draycote Water Sailing Club
18 & 19 November 2023
Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water Sailing Club
9 & 10 December 2023
Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey, Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club
27 December 2023
Gill Grafham Grand Prix, Grafham Water Sailing Club
30 December 2023
GJW Direct Bloody Mary, Queen Mary Sailing Club
6 January 2024
King George Gallop, King George Sailing Club
20 January 2024
John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Rutland Sailing Club
3 & 4 February 2024
Oxford Blue, Oxford Sailing Club
17 February 2024
Prizegiving at RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show, Farnborough
24 February 2024
You can find out more about the Series here: www.SailJuiceSeries.com