Nearly 200 sailors in 32 teams representing 24 universities from across the UK and Ireland descended on West Kirby Sailing Club on Wednesday 11th April for the start of three days of intense Team Racing. And intense it was!
Each of these 32 teams had had to fight for their chance to be here, coming from over ninety teams at five regional Qualifiers, Playoffs and the Irish University Championships.
Day one saw near perfect team racing conditions, a constant breeze, sunshine and 105 races! Leading the way was 2011 runner up, Southampton Turquoise with 100% wins, closely followed by Cambridge Pink and Oxford Blue.
Day two brought perfect conditions – wind, blue skies and lots of sunshine. Southampton Turquoise maintained a strong position, with Cambridge Pink taking the lead overnight after dropping to 4th in the morning. The Irish team, from University College Dublin, were also doing well, having led at the turn of Round 15. With each new round in the Swiss League, each race result could now send a team rising up the league into the top 8 or sinking fast out the running for the Quarters.
With lighter and shiftier winds anticipated for the final day, there was a slow start to proceedings, with an opportunity to catch up with some teams who seemed content with a little waiting after the demands of the previous evening’s activities.
Aidan McLaverty and his colleagues from University College Dublin were to be found ready for action – living up to their countrymen’s reputation for playing hard and racing seriously! Aidan commented on the event, “thanks for a brilliant event, great racing and some after hours fun……but they do have a way to go in that respect!”
Phil Derry of Oxford Blue said, “it has been a wonderful event. Incredibly well run and really impressive number of races, in spite of being very breezy on first two days. The standard has been high across the board, especially at the top. Incredibly tense, but ‘interesting’”. An Oxford White colleague confirmed that the event had been “very good – although we were a bit let down by other teams on the dressing-up front! Really close racing though”.
With the wind picking up somewhat, racing continued, progressing into the Quarters, Semis and the Final. The quarter finals saw Oxford white beat Cambridge Pink 2-0. Southampton Turquoise beat Bristol White 2-1, Southampton magenta beat Oxford Blue 2-1 and Ireland beat Durham Blue 2-1.
In the semi-finals, the Irish team were looking to book their place in the Finals, hoping to get the ‘triple crown’ of winning the Irish, Scottish and British University championships, however Oxford white had other ideas and dismissed the Irish team in two straight wins. The second semi-final match brought the leading Southampton University teams against each other.
Ed Morris from Southampton Turquoise commented on the Final matches: ‘With confidence high we had another flight change and came out ready for our final, by this time the crowd at the marine lake was huge and we wanted to go one better than last year and win the trophy. We knew Oxford would be a challenge; they had a string of successes over the year including the RYA Ladies Title and were on great form after winning both their semi and quarter in straight matches. On top of that, nearly half the team had been part of last year’s victorious crew, which had beaten us 3-2 on our home waters. In the end we managed to beat Oxford in 3 straight races and finally take the trophy and bring it back to Wessex after a 4 year absence. Although the score line looks crushing, Oxford put up a strong challenge with Claire Lasko and Becky Cross being hugely pivotal; most races were still open at the 4th mark and we managed to just edge ahead to take the title. Sailing over the line with a 1, 2 in the final race felt great and it was a huge relief.’
Oxford White (otherwise known as ‘Team LAVA’ due to their esoteric colour preference and distinctive team kit) finished the event in 2nd. Claire Lasko: commented, “we had had to go to the Playoffs to qualify for the Championship, so this was very unexpected. We had not sailed together more than two weeks!”
The Champion team, Southampton Turquoise, had a clear win. Pippa Horne commented that the event “was fun – we had no rain! Very good competition. The race organisers did a good job”. Kate Restall added, “Fantastic – start to finish. Nerve-racking this morning.
Now I am retiring from university sailing with my head held high!”
Peter Johnson, BUSA President, who had been much photographed on the water in his role as an Umpire, summed things up: “All good. It has been an excellent three days, with some great wind. I would especially like to thank the competitors, the local committee and the volunteers for making it so enjoyable”.
Warm thanks go to West Kirby SC for their welcome, organisation and support, including their catering leadership, supported by members of Liverpool University Sailing Club, as well as to all the other volunteers on Tessa Hamer’s team and to the Race Committee and Officials.
Top ten results
1 Southampton Turquoise: Andy Shaw, Pippa Horne, Ed Morris, Katie Restall, Ed Males & Sarah Elliot
2 Oxford White: Georgia Trapp, Ed Scallen, Ben Gratton, Ali Hinds, Claire Lasko & Becky Cross
3 Ireland (UCD): Aidan McLaverty, Bella Morehead, Simon Doran, Aoife Cooney, Barry McCartin & Eimear McIvor
4 Southampton Magenta: Simon Foskett, Emily Giles, Louis McVeigh Whittaker, Billie Quinlan, Jordan Saints & Rosie Sibthorp
5 Cambridge Pink: Fiona Hampshire, Honor Fell, Josh Flack, Milly Stephens, Will Kalderon & Dawn Wilkinson
6 Durham Blue: Ed Harrison, Amber Prout, Ed Fox, Lindsey Cook, Tom Quigley & Kate Stanley
7 Oxford Blue: Phil Derry, Ben Rahemtulla, Guy Stephens, Jon Turnbull, Chris Young & Kathryn Twemlow
8 Bristol White: Phil Sparks, Poppy Maxwell, Mary Fenton-Jones, Louisa Gryspeerdt, James Grant & Celina Love
9 Bath White: Sam Littlejohn, Marinathe Evangelidis, Sam Collingwood, Alex Mathews, Lawrence Gibbons & Emily McEachern
10 Bristol Red: Charlie Poyner, Katherine Marsden, Charlie Makepeace, Immi Palmer, Henry Forward & James Duncalfe