188 sailors, in 106 boats and four fleets, are competing this weekend in Plymouth Sound for the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Fleet Racing Championships 2013, in conjunction with British Universities Sailing Association (BUSA). Plymouth University are welcoming sailors from 17 universities, including three represented for the first time from as far afield as as Sunderland, Falmouth and Chichester.
The event is being held at Mount Batten Sailing Centre, in conjunction with a partnership of Plymouth University and its Sports Union, Plymouth Youth Sailing, Plymouth Marine Institute and the University’s Sailing Club, drawing in many volunteers.
It is set to be another wild and stormy event, with strong winds and heavy rain forecast for Saturday. The four fleets, Firefly, Laser, Fast and Slow Handicap, all have sailors experienced from last year and many students new to the event.
do Chiavarini of Plymouth University will be defending his Laser title. Fellow RYA Podium Potential Squad Finn sailor, Pete McCoy, took silver in last year’s Slow Fleet, but has to tackle the Fast Handicap Fleet this year, following the review of the Portsmouth Yardstick (possibly he will be relieved not to have to renew his battle of last year with the 420s, who relished the higher winds then). On the other hand, last year’s 420 competitors may be watching wearily as last year’s Firefly Champion and former National 420 Champion, Craig Dibb is competing in the Slow Handicap Fleet this year. Sarah Alton and Harry Derbyshire of Cardiff, who together won the Slow Handicap last year, are both competing separately in the Firefly Fleet this year.
Other RYA Podium Potential sailors competing include Hugh Brayshaw (Falmouth), Jess Lavery (Bristol), Rheanna Pavey (Reading) and Annabel Vose (Southampton).
The BUCS Fleet Championships are about individual and team champions, of course. But the first BUCS points of the 2013-14 sailing season will also be decided this weekend. These will be earned by those universities with three teams ranking in the top eight combined best scores.
An innovation this year is that BUCS will be awarding points also to all-female teams, on the same basis. Perhaps most university sailing clubs have not grasped the implications and, although there are many women competing, there are a limited number of all-female boats in each university team. Some could scoop!
With today’s racing abandoned due to the high winds, it is hoped that racing will take
place on Sunday, with an earlier start and the option to sail in the Catwater, which is more sheltered.