Sunshine and light winds prevailed over the weekend as the top female team racers from across the United Kingdom descended upon Spinnaker Sailing Club for the RYA Ladies Team Racing Championships. This was the first year that the event also incorporated the BUSA Championship, and this seems to have positive step with 16 teams, including 11 university teams entering.
The format of the event format was single round robin, followed by a knock out stage for the top four teams. As per the NoR the BUSA results would be determined by the round robin, with the RYA title taken from the knock out competition. This meant a busy weekend where a potential 132 races where to be run. Bright Sunshine and shifty force 2-3 north westerly greeted the competitors and the ever efficient Spinnaker/Wessex Organising Authority, led by PRO Martin Smethers, had racing underway by 1000.
The quality of the racing was clear, with many races not decided until the very last beat; this kept both the umpires and the finishing boat alert! Whilst the fickle, shifty winds meant that continuous racing was almost impossible, the Southampton helpers did their utmost to keep the event on track. By both ferrying competitors to and from the changeover pontoons and constantly adjusting the course, 95 races were managed by 1700 – and this despite BUSA Men’s Captain Andy Shaw managing to wrap mark 2 around his prop whilst relaying it!
By the end of Saturday, all the teams had completed at least 10 races and, Southampton Yellow and Oxford where tied on one loss each. However Southampton took the lead as they had championed with a 2 3 5 when they met early on in the competition. Close behind a convincing victory by relative underdogs, Bath, against Southampton Yellow met they just held third from the chasing pack of Cambridge, Rutland Raiders (Angry Birds) and Wessex Exiles.
Most of the teams headed to Southampton where Wessex laid on a great social taking in infamous Manzils Tandoori and Jesters Nightclub. Although the 0900 warning signal in the morning meant that everyone was careful not to enjoy themselves too much!
Sunday dawned windless but encouraging reports from Farmoor about northerly breezes meant that everyone was ready to go once wind arrived. By 1030 racing was underway and with the re-sails from Saturday completed, the last 25 races of the round robin were concluded by lunch time. By this time the BUSA competition had been determined with Southampton Yellow taking the title ahead of Oxford and Bath.
After a short Lunch break the RYA titles were contested by a knock out stage. These matches were first to two race wins, but were all decided with only two races. Southampton Yellow beat Cambridge in the first semi whilst Oxford beat Bath in the second. This set up a final between Oxford and Southampton. Oxford repulsed Southampton’s Challenge by starting well and sailing clear. In the end Oxford took the title in two races with a 1, 2, 5 and 1, 2, 6. In the petit final Cambridge overcame Bath to take 3rd in the RYAs in 2 races.
The event was an enormous success and it was great to see so many entries. In the prize giving Oxford captain, Lucy Veys, praised the organisers for a well organised event and said she hope to see everyone back next year to compete once again. Huge thanks must go to all the officials and especially Jess Blick, Southampton Ladies captain who managed to organise the army of helpers from Wessex who helped to make the event go so smoothly.
The 2013 Event is set to be at Spinnaker Club on 16-17 March 2013!
See Ed Morris’ Event Report with Photos