by Andy Kennett
The University of Nottingham Sailing Club’s annual Snakebite, a traditionally popular event in the British Universities’ Team Racing calendar was held this year, for the first time, at Nottingham USCs new home, Notts County Sailing Club. It proved to be a great venue, popular with the eighteen teams competing, several travelling from far afield, for its facilities, great organisation, support from Notts County, and, particularly because they managed to get a good quota of races in on the Saturday and early part of Sunday, after weeks of often horrendous weather.
Tight to the end
Friday evening saw teams from across Britain descend on Nottingham. A fantastic social and some sore heads later, Saturday’s racing got underway. The conditions were fantastic as the boats sailed out in beaming sunshine and a cloudless sky. Cut-downs were necessary as the forecast was set to pick up by the afternoon. This proved to be a wise decision as gusts rained in down the lake. The round robin showcased some fantastic sailing in particularly testing conditions.
Cambridge 1 came out on top by the cut-off, with five wins. Cambridge was shortly followed by Loughborough Old Boys, Cambridge 2 and Bristol 1, who ended the stage on four wins. Loughborough, Warwick 1 and 2 and Leeds 1 and 2 were all tied on three wins with only two spaces in the gold fleet remaining. After the points were totalled Loughborough and Warwick 1 both managed to squeeze ahead of the rest, and this finalized the gold fleet. Saturday’s racing finished at 16:30, squeezing in races for all teams in the bronze, silver and gold fleets.
Off the water, the evening’s entertainment was still in the spirit of the occasion where teams proceeded to race each other in a less traditional ‘boat race’.
Team racing underway at the Nottingham Snakebite 2014 © David Eberlin - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
The forecast left us worrying whether or not we could get any sailing done on Sunday, but, after a long assessment, it was decided to run the gold and silver fleets. This proved to be a superb decision as the intense conditions were handled with extreme skill by all teams involved. Some absolutely brilliant races unfolded, and Loughborough were on fine form, winning every race in the gold flight apart from against Bristol.
Cambridge 1 was also going well, also winning all of their races in gold flight, except for their race against Loughborough, which was a fantastically tense affair. This left Cambridge 1 and Loughborough equal on wins, but, due to the worsening conditions, a final could not be held. This meant Loughborough were the champions (as they beat Cambridge earlier on). The silver flight was dominated by Nottingham Old Boys (NOBs) who won all their races. NOBs were shortly followed by Leeds 1, who put in a great performance, beating everyone apart from the NOBs.
Overall the event was a great success where great team racing was displayed especially due to the weather.
Connor Miller tells it how it is © David Eberlin - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
Winning Loughborough Captain, Connor Miller, had quite a bit to add: 'With a dire forecast the Nottingham Snakebite seemed doomed to be another event written off due to the windy conditions. However, upon arrival it seemed spring has finally sprung, with perfect wind and some long awaited sunshine!
'Notts USC set the ball rolling early on the Saturday and got through a whole round robin early on, allowing the split into gold, silver and bronze, whilst working in smooth conjunction with the hosts Notts County SC.
'The races flew by and lots of people were kept content with the glorious spread set out by the caterers, which helped as to cure the weary heads of all those at the social on Friday.
'Sunday morning broke. If Saturday’s forecast had been dire, Sunday’s was atrocious, with gusts of 40+ knots expected by midday. After some deliberation, a decision was made. Unfortunately, it saw the dropping of the bronze fleet due to the challenging conditions, thus a portion of the competitors had an early trip home, whilst the silver and gold battled it out in the breeze.
Spray divides us © Andreas Billman - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
'Having disposed of close rivals Cambridge previously, the crunch match and decider would fall to Loughborough Lions versus the Loughborough Old Boys. Youth and passion overtook the wise and the cunning, and the Lions won the decider with a 1,2,3.
'Great event and impeccable organisation; certainly one to attend next year.'
Snakebite Organiser, Edward Parnell thanked all of the Nottingham sailors who helped with Snakebite in any capacity: 'I want to say thank you for everything. Without you guys this weekend, it wouldn't have gone as smoothly as it did; you guys all stepped up and didn't complain, so thank you for making it a memorable sailing event. Let's live up to last year and hopefully do it next year. Issy Hamilton responded: 'a massive thank you to Ed, you were an awesome event manager'. Nottingham USC Commodore, Venetia Stanley added: 'a big thank you to you Ed! This weekend wouldn't have happened without you!!!!!'
Fireflies ready for action and teams enjoying long-forgotten sunshine at Notts County SC © David Eberlin - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
Team re-energise while others work © David Eberlin - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
Come on in....everyone’s welcome! © Andreas Billman - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
Someone got something to say? © David Eberlin - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
BUSA Men’s Captain and Bristol’s Nick Wilkinson in the middle of the mêlée © David Eberlin - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
Close attention from the umpires at a tight mark rounding © David Eberlin - Nottingham Snakebite 2014
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