by Brenda Hoult
During 2013, UK National Championships for dinghy classes were spread around 46 sailing clubs, ranging from the major sea venues down to some of our smaller inland lakes. Leading on-line dinghy insurers GJW Direct recently teamed up with sailing data-crunchers SailRacer to put together an on-line poll of the most popular sailing clubs who had hosted a National Championships during the year. Voters were given the opportunity to comment on what influenced their choice and could, of course, vote for any venue whether they had raced there during 2013 or not. Each voter rated their top five venues, with 20 points for their first choice down to two points for fifth favourite, so hopefully this annual poll will give a feeling for the most popular venue overall, rather then the one that hosted the largest fleet within a year having the most vociferous vote.
Patience and Liam Willis - GJW Direct trophy 2013
South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club came out top in the poll and will be awarded the GJW Direct trophy at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in March. In fourth place were the top placed inland venue, the 50 acre gravel pit which is home to Hunts Sailing Club, hosts of the CVDRA Nationals over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The popularity of the smaller clubs seems less surprising when you consider that over 70% of National Championships this year attracted less than 40 boats.
Predictably it was the friendliness of the host club that was most often cited by voters as being most influential to their choice, closely followed by good race management and friendly club members involved in running the event. However, proximity (particularly with reference to Scotland) and welcoming to dogs were amongst other comments.
The results were announced at the SailRacer End of Year Party at Datchet Water SC on Saturday 14th December, within the inaugural Datchet Flyer. Luke Patience, 470 Olympic Silver Medalist, was guest speaker at the party, demonstrating his contagious enthusiasm for the sport. Luke spoke about the need to always be ahead of the opposition, and to achieve that position on the water meant being always one step ahead in preparation: 'If we can be one week ahead in our preparation now, and maintain that advantage every week until Rio we will have the edge throughout the event and come out on top.' Quite obviously enjoying the challenge of a class of boat he had never sailed before, Luke looks forward to the chance to sail in a Fireball during the coming season, although his Olympic preparations will be taking a much busier turn.
Top 10 Clubs in the poll for GJW Direct Venue of the Year 2013:
South Caernarvonshire YC (Abersoch)
Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy
Castle Cove SC
Lyme Regis SC
Castle Cove SC
Hayling Island SC