On 1-2 November over 300 students arrived for the BUCS Fleet Racing Nationals held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, hoping for a weekend of close racing. However the weather had other plans and proceeded to blow at upwards of 25 knots for the majority of the competition.
Saturday saw students arriving early and going home early as the wind and freezing rain battered them as the rigged their boats. Racing was abandoned for the day, with the hope of slightly less wind on Sunday.
Sunday dawned with winds of 20 knots and the fleets were sent out. As sailors slowly and cautiously headed out to the sailing area the wind increased and slowly built to over 25knots during the first race.
As damaged boats and sailors started to head ashore racing was abandoned for the Handicap and Laser 2 fleets after one race, whilst the Laser and Firefly fleets managed to finish two races. By 2pm all sailors and their boats were ashore and packing up, with the wind now gusting over 30 knots.
As two races constitute a series at this event, both the Laser and firefly classes were awarded medals and BUCS points. It is hoped that the BUCS points to the Handicap and Laser 2 fleets will be transferred to the BUSA Fleet Racing Inlands taking place at Datchet on the 18-19 April 2009.
Leading the Laser fleet with two bullets was Robert Godwin from the University of Nottingham, closely followed by Dyfrig Mon from Swansea University, matching his second place last year. In third place was the University of Portsmouth sailor Max Holloway, who gained the last few BUCS points, with a one points difference from fourth placed University of Southampton sailor Andy Joseph.
In the Firefly fleet, the results came from the second race, after redress was granted to the fleet from race one. Taking home these vital BUCS points are the University of Baths’ Sam Littlejohn and Kate Smorthwaite in first place, Birmingham’s Joshua Pistol and Ali Griffiths in second and Plymouth’s Pete Johnson and Sophie Morton.
In the Handicap and Laser 2 fleets, although the series was not completed and BUCS points cannot be awarded, sailing was tough and close. Leading in the Handicap fleet, and revelling in the conditions was a 470 team of Ben Muskett and Dan Schieber from Exeter University. Defending Laser 2 Champions Piers Arnold and Emanuel Koechert from Brunel University kept their winning streak from 2007-08, by winning the only Laser 2 race.
Ben Towell, BUSA Chairman 2007-09 commented at the prize giving: ‘Firstly I would like to thank all of you for coming to Weymouth, and this year’s record entries. Secondly I would like to thank the safety crews, jury, results volunteers and all those competitors who after getting their own boats out of the water stayed and dived in to help the others who were coming ashore. This sportsman-like behaviour was fantastic to see.”
Full results at www.bucs.org.uk
BUSA INLANDS – taking place at Datchet, hosted by Brunel on the 18/19th April, straight after the BUSA Team Racing Championships at the same venue.
FIREFLY INLANDS – 8/9th November at Rutland. Go to www.fireflysailing.org.uk
Three hundred student sailors will be making the long drive down to Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy for the inaugural BUCS Fleet Racing Championship this weekend (1-2 November) for the first National Sailing Championships of the University year.
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Fleet Racing Championships will give students the opportunity to race against each other individually in Lasers, Laser 2’s, Fireflies and a Handicap Class, as well as competing for the overall British Universities Sailing Associations’ Team Trophy (BUSA).
With record breaking entries this year BUCS and BUSA have been working together to make sure this is a weekend to remember.
Defending Laser 2 fleet Champions Piers Arnold and Emanuel Koechert, from Brunel, along with Firefly defending Champions Tom Mallindine and Pete Matthews, from Exeter, will both be looking to replicate last year’s results.
Other sailors to watch out for include Jo Brigg and Liz Willow from the University of Southampton, who won the Firefly fleet in 2006-07 and who came second in the Handicap fleet in 2007-08.
Members of the Skandia Team GBR Development Squad will also be out in force at this event. These include Robert Godwin (Nottingham), Max Holloway (Portsmouth), Johnny Moss (Plymouth), Claire Walsh (Bristol), Sophie Ainsworth (Exeter), Sophie Weguelin (Exeter) and Harriet Trumble (Exeter).
Will the University of Southampton dominate the event again for a third year in a row? Watch this space!
The latest news, information, blog and the all-important results will be posted on the BUCS website (www.bucs.org.uk) and this one!