Strong winds and rain greeted the competitors at the Welsh Harp Reservoir on Saturday morning. The 16 teams were split into two leagues of 8 and 39 races were completed before the breeze increased significantly in the early afternoon. With gusts topping 40knots races were sailed using cutdown sails which combined with the gusty conditions provided lots of entertainment for the spectators and a number of upsets in the results.
Sunday brought a lighter breeze and some complimentary ‘tart fuel’ inflicted hangovers for the competitors. Racing got underway promptly and the remainder of the races from the two leagues were completed by late morning by which time the breeze had built to a steady 10-12knots. In light of the previous days sailing upon completion of the first stage, teams were then split into 4 mini-leagues which allowed the two London teams to be cycled out of the competition as well as providing the seeding for the quarter finals. The 4 teams in the super gold league qualified directly for the quarter finals and were joined by the top 2 teams in the gold and silver leagues.
The knockout stages were the best of 3 races with all but one of the quarter finals going to a third race. Royal Thames overcame Southampton in the first tie while the Exiles took on the other Southampton team. Unsurprisingly this was a fairly scrappy affair between the alumni team and their former university with the Exiles eventually prevailing in a heated affair. Strong starting from Bristol took them past Oxford in 3 races but the pick of the bunch and move of the weekend was in the 3rd race between Cambridge and West Kirby which the latter won on the last stages of the final beat with a come-from-behind victory after they lured a Cambridge boat into a port-starboard incident- smashing there way into the semi finals to obvious delight.
In the first semi final West Kirby dispatched Bristol with some slick team racing and went on to meet the Exiles in the final who beat Royal Thames in the other semi. West Kirby were now on a roll and pressured the Exiles into letting a 1, 4, 5 slip in the first race and with the wind starting to fade the second race and the 2009 London 6 Pack was won on leg 3 when the West Kirby team of Will Shepherd[c]/Emma Lombard, Andy Cornah/Hamish Walker and Owain Matthews/Jemima Riley overtook the Exiles to go on and clinch a well deserved victory.
With a number of upsets on the Saturday [and Sunday morning] the event provided an interesting gauge for the new season with sailing across a wide range of conditions using both cutdowns and full sails. With the finalists sailing 18 races over the weekend the format ensured a fair result despite the terrible weather on Saturday. ULSC would like to echo the sentiments of the West Kirby team who thanked Bruce and Amanda Hebbert for there support and with a surplus of drinks the competitors were well rewarded for the efforts. ULSC would also like to thank Oxford University, Sevenoaks School, Imperial University as well as BTYC for the assistance in running the event.
ULSC also hosts the London Duck on the weekend of 13th March- entry deadline is 13th February.
The final results were:
1st West Kirby Sailing Club
2nd Wessex Exiles
3rd= Royal Thames Yacht Club
3rd= Bristol University
5th= Southampton University
5th= Southampton University
5th= Cambridge University
5th= Oxford University
Videos of the knockout stages, photos and the results in full are posted on the event coverage on the Sailgroove website.