The 2023 BUCS Yachting Championships returned to Costa-Del-Solent where 13 University teams from around the UK competed in 10 races across 4 days in the Fairview 37 charter boats.

Day 1 consisted of 2 practice starts, followed by two windward leeward courses and a ‘round the cans’ race. Neil Collingridge was the Principal Race Officer for the week and he and his team did a superb job getting racing underway at 1130 as scheduled. The first day consisted of a steady 10-12 knots South Easterly with the tide flooding down the course; the themes of the day were land-on-the-left and inshore-out-the-tide. It was the team from Imperial Yacht Club helmed by Gus Cox who had the best performance with a consistent 2,3,5. It was a slow start for the Scottish team from the The University of Strathclyde Sailing Club but once they realised having a fixed bladed propellor locked in gear wasn’t fast, they found their speed and followed up a last place in race 1 with two consecutive bullets in races 2 and 3.

Day two saw very similar conditions as day one, 8-12 knots from the South East slowly tracking right throughout the day. The first race was another windward leeward off Hillhead and the themes were land-on-the-left and tide; Steve Carver and his team from the UEA Sailing Club took a solid win. Race two was a ‘round the cans’ race in which we had a new race winner of Tommy Hartley and his team from the University of Bristol Sailing Club. The final race of the day was a coastal race which started off Hillhead and took the sailors on a tour of the Solent for a finish at Cowes. Off the startline, big gains were made by the teams who went left up the beat, inshore, and out the tide. The rest of the race consisted of upwind legs across the channel from Bramble Bank to Ryde, a short windward leeward over the Ryde, a reach across from the Ryde to the Cowes shore and a final downwind leg from the Norris Buoy to the Cowes entrance. Boat handling and navigation across channels and banks were key and it was Gus Cox and Imperial who took the win in the Non-discardable Coastal race worth 1.5 points. Ellie Driver and her team from Southampton University Sailing Club finished second and it was Steve Care and East Anglia who took home third. Another consistent day from Imperial meant they retained their overall lead overnight. The teams spent the night in Cowes where they had their annual BUCS Yachting black tie dinner, this year hosted by Island Sailing Club.

Day three got off to a slow start, not at all due to the number of sore heads walking around the docks but because there was a lack of wind. The race committee wisely held the fleet ashore with AP over 2 displayed on the official notice board. At 1130 the competitors were released from the dock but to no surprise the wind did not fill in for another hour. At 1300, race 7, a windward leeward, was underway in a steady 6-8 knots from the west. The tide was once again flooding and the teams who went left up the beat were rewarded with a massive tidal lift and first round the mark. Despite the tide being stronger on the left hand side looking upwind, the teams who gybed early and got into the shallower water did not make the big gains they maybe thought they would and this saw yet another maiden race winner with Ellie Driver and Southampton taking the dub. Races 8 and 9 were ‘round the cans’ races and race 8 started with the only downwind start of the race. Strathclyde University popped the kite early to punch through the tide pushing the teams behind the line; this rewarded the team with an early 4 boat length lead at the deeper yet less crowded end of the line. Strathclyde and Newcastle University Sailing And Yachting Club rounded the leeward mark in a 1,2 but was occurred behind can only be described as controlled carnage. There was a 7 boat luffing battle, lots of shouting, and lots of red flags. The protest committee were kept busy following this race but despite all the chaos, not one boat was damaged, and Fairview were hugely grateful for this! After a solid first downwind, Strathclyde maintained their lead and took home their third win of the event. The final race was won by East Anglia but it was the University of Strathclyde who had the most consistent day with a 3,1,3 and leap-frogged into 1st place overnight. However, it was all still very much to play for going into the final day as Strathclyde, Southampton, East Anglia, and Imperial were all separated by no more than 4 points! Back in Hamble, the evenings entertainment consisted of a Pub Quiz in the Royal Southern Yacht Club with our wonderful quiz hosts Ruaridh and Tiger from Exeter University. Winners of the quiz were The Stormy Daniels – a combined Northern team of Newcastle and Durham University Sailing Club students.

The final day! One race, four teams in contention, but only one winner! Day 4 was the breeziest day so far with a gust 12-18 knots blowing from the west and a windward leeward course off Hillhead. In the pre-start the committee raised flag T to signal that the flying of spinnakers was prohibited. Off the line there was an individual recall with Imperial OCS, 4 became 3 and it was East Anglia and Southampton who had the best starts to take them around the windward mark in a 1,2 ahead of Strathclyde who rounded in 6th. The positions did not change on the run but Strathclyde unlocked a new upwind mode and made a textbook layline call to jump them from 6th to 2nd behind East Anglia and ahead of Southampton. The top three boats were now in a three-way race in a font pack safely ahead of the chasing fleet. A right hand shift meant there was limited overtaking opportunity on the final downwind and it was East Anglia who rounded ahead of Strathclyde followed by Southampton! Disaster! A shocking mark rounding from Strathclyde and they end up with a riding turn on the active jib sheet winch and unable to trim the jib on fully. An opportunity opens for Southampton and they squeeze out extra height to roll over strath. Once rolled, strath cut their jib sheet and tacked over onto a working sheet; they unbound the riding turn and reset their starboard sheet. A loose tacking battle ensued and on the approach to the finish, Strath came in on port and Southampton came in on starboard. Strath swung a tack under Southampton in a last attempt to claim back their second place but it was Southampton who took second in race 10 with East Anglia first. However, it was all smiles onboard the Scottish team from the University of Strathclyde as 3rd place was just enough to secure 1st place overall! Strathclyde and Southampton finished equal on 30 points with Strathclyde taking the win on countback. East Anglia finished 3rd overall on 30.5 points.

Jake Miller, skipper of the Strathclyde team commented “On behalf of all the competitors, we would like to thank Neil Collingridge, and his race management for putting on a fantastic 4 days of racing, Prue Nash and the Fairview Team for looking after us and being on hand to help with any issues with the boats, and to Milly Jinks (BUSA Keelboating Officer) for putting in a huge amount of work throughout the year to organise the event and make it worth everyone’s while!”

A massive thank you to Fairview Yacht Services and Georgie Altham of PhotoBoat Photography.

Full results can be found here