At the CCCA AGM back in May 16 it was suggested that rather than spend money on a CCCA Stand at the dinghy show we could show off the Trio in other ways. One way would be to enter big handicap events so that sailors who are not familiar with the Trio or only see it as a training dinghy at their local club could see the true capability of the boat.
So I hatched a scheme to take Trio 394 (16 years old and with 7 year old ‘best sails’) to the Sailjuice Series. Alex would helm, I would crew and we would go and see what we could do. The Sailjuice Series consists of 7 races from November through to February at the big inland water clubs around the country. With 4 races to count we just picked the nearest 4 to Exmouth/Southampton (where Alex lives) and set off for some fun!
On the 19/20 Nov we made our way to Draycote Water near Rugby for the Draycote Dash. With 101 other boats of many different classes also turning up, the event was a chance for us to line up against those who sail very different types of dinghies. On Saturday the weather was cold and in a light F2/3 wind the race officer managed to get all 4 scheduled handicap races sailed. With 3 races to count we had managed 8, 28, 11. The Laser of Craig Williamson was leading overnight. Sunday was marginally warmer and initially a little breezier, F4 but this faded as the racing took place. A single 120 minute pursuit race was staged with the slowest boats starting first in the better breeze. Craig Williamson sailed off into the distance to win the pursuit race and the event overall but at the end of the 120 mins we had worked our way into 8th place leaving us 9th overall. With 10 different classes of boats in the top 10 places overall the organisers were delighted with the way the handicapping system had worked out.
The next race in the series took place at Datchet Water on 10/11 Dec. Again the breeze was light with 3 handicap races sailed on the Saturday and a double points non discardable pursuit race on the Sunday. With several of the top RS200 sailors taking part along with plenty of other class National Champions there was some excellent racing amongst the 105 entries. The highlight of our Saturday racing being the 3rd place in Handicap race 2. The pursuit race was as tense as ever as we caught the Enterprises at the last mark only to let them get in front again as we finished in 11th place. Once the results were finally sorted out we were 14th overall. Buoyed by this we decided to enter the Bloody Mary and the Oxford Blue.
The Bloody Mary took place on the 7 Jan. With 288 entries and 244 finishers, this was by far the largest pursuit race of the season. It all seemed so promising as we were rigging up, a nice F3 was blowing and all was well. We launched, the Toppers started and the wind decreased. The Enterprises, Lasers and GP14s set off and eventually we started on an empty start line 3 mins in front of about 30 RS200s. After about 15 mins the wind dropped to a F1 and we eased our way slowly round the course. Catching the leading boats looked an impossible task and so it proved! Only 1 RS200 overtook us and the only other boats to catch us were the Thames A Raters which looked like Americas cup yachts of the past as they sped by with 20 mins to go. In the end we finished 24th well behind the Fireflies which held on to take the first 2 places.
The Oxford Blue took place on the 18 Feb, another 3 handicap races to be sailed by the fleet of 147 boats and light winds again! This time things didn’t go so well, starting in the last of the 3 fleets it was vital to get off the line in front of the pack. This didn’t prove so easy with the Finns and RS200s taking the clean air. Even once in clear water we were soon into the back of the Aero fleet which had started 3 mins in front. Dirty wind in light shifty conditions is not good and we had fairly average results leaving us in 37th place overall.
Nevertheless with 4 solid results in our chosen 4 races we ended up a very respectable 9th place overall out of the 711 boats that had entered at least one race in the series. Matt Mee and Emma Norris, the RS200 National Champions, showed the rest of us how it should be done with 4 fantastic results to win the series followed by Ben Schooling in his Musto Skiff and Craig Williamson in a Laser.
Already Alex is planning for next years Sailjuice series so if anyone else would like to come along and give a go it would be great to see you.