The UK 18 foot Skiff racing season kicks off this weekend at Weymouth

The 18 foot Skiff racing season commences in the United Kingdom this weekend when the first round of the UK Skiff Grand Prix Series takes place at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy.

British 18 footer sailing is currently on a high, and the record entries of last season are more than likely to be exceeded.

The Grand Prix Series will comprise five rounds, two of which will be held in Portland Harbour, together with two new venues of Largs (good news for the five strong Scottish fleet and the Ovington Boats team, who normally have to face long journeys south) and Calshot in the Solent, followed by the final round at an inland venue still to be decided.

The national championship, for the Ovington Cup, will take place in Plymouth Sound in July.

A relatively small number of UK teams have been enjoying European visits in recent years to join in some of the 18 footer events there, but this season will provide more opportunity for international sailing in a Euro Cup series, commencing with events at Carnac and Portland Harbour over the first and second weekends in June. Entries from the British, European, Australian and US fleets will in all probability exceed 30 boats for the first time in Europe. The two further rounds in the series are scheduled for the second half of August at Lac de Joux in Switzerland and Lake Garda in Italy.

UK racing has been dominated over the past three seasons by the all-conquering RMW Marine team, but some hard work by their rivals has narrowed the gap considerably, and the eight other British teams who competed in the JJ Giltinan worlds event in January, plus those who were not lucky enough to go, will all be looking forward to raising their game.

In fact, the door is wide open for a new team at the head of the leader board this weekend as the skipper of RMW Marine, Rob Greenhalgh, will be fulfilling a commitment in the final round of the Warsash Winter Series.

Racing in Portland Harbour is scheduled to start at noon on Saturday and 11 am on Sunday.