This year, the BUSA Team Racing Championship Finals took place at Oxford Sailing Club, from March 26th-28th. The competition promised to be closely contested, with Southampton leading the seedings, followed closely by Bristol and Exeter.
Unfortunately, a mirror-like reservoir greeted us on day 1, with a forecast of light and shifty winds for the rest of the day. Despite the less than favourable conditions, the race committee managed to run about half of the initial league races, broken up by long postponements as we waited for the wind to fill in. By the end of the day there were several teams who had not yet dropped a race, including Southampton 1sts and 2nds, Bristol 1sts and 2nds, Edinburgh and Exeter, but there was still all to play for in the last stage 1 races.
The light and shifty conditions continued on day 2, although there were fewer postponements and, by the end of the day, the first leagues had been completed and the second stage of the competition was well under way, giving us hope that most races could be completed. At this stage the key competitors were Southampton 1, Southampton 2 and Bristol 2 in the Supergold league, with Portsmouth 1, Bristol 1 and Exeter 1 as the favourites in the Gold league.
The final day of the BUSA finals brought some long-awaited wind, enabling the final gold and silver league mixed races, and the gold league ladies races to be completed quickly and efficiently, even though we were using cut down sails in anticipation of heavier winds later on. At this point all the teams were ready for the knockout stages, with some potentially exciting quarter finals in the mixed competition from Southampton 1 vs Cambridge 1, Bristol 2 vs Exeter 1, Southampton 2 vs Edinburgh 1 and Bristol 1 vs Portsmouth 1. The ladies semi finals were also all set to go with Cambridge vs Durham and Oxford vs Edinburgh.
Although the wind had picked up considerably by this point, the quarter finals began, seeing Cambridge break Southampton’s winning streak and some exciting racing between the other teams in the strong winds, with some spectacular capsizes! Unfortunately it was decided that the wind was too strong to continue racing and all boats were brought off the water, with the quarter finals left incomplete. The sailors watched anxiously from the clubhouse as the wind dropped to a sailable strength and then picked up again several times, giving the teams false hope. Finally, the race committee took the decision that racing would have to be abandoned, and the results would be taken from the first league results.
The final results, therefore, left Southampton 1 in pole position, followed by Bristol 2 and Southampton 2, with Bristol 1 leading the Gold league. In the Ladies competition, Oxford and Cambridge were neck and neck with 1 win against each other after the league stages, but the final results gave Cambridge the gold medal (as they had won their last race against Oxford), with Oxford coming 2nd and Edinburgh 3rd.
By the end of the final day, the competition had seen most kinds of weather, with various combinations of sun, rain, hail, calm and storms, for which we can only blame the weatherman! Particular thanks go to the race committee and umpires who spent a lot of time working in inclement conditions and trying to second guess the weather. I’d also like to thank the helpers on the start and finish boats, the beachmasters and the bosuns who were also out in all weathers over the 3 days.
Furthermore, thanks should go to Warwick, Southampton, Bath, Oxford, London, Oxford Schools and Charterhouse for lending their boats and to all those who towed the boats to and from Oxford. The galley staff and all the other helpers at Oxford Sailing Club, ODSSA and Oxford University, including my fellow event organisers, were a great help in making the event a success. My final thanks go to KPMG, who provided us with money, pens and chocolate, which were all very well received, and to the competitors, for whom the conditions were the most frustrating. Let’s hope for better weather next year!
1. Southampton 1
2. Bristol 2
3. Southampton 2
Silver League winners: Oxford