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Scottish University Teams qualify for British Champs in Strathclyde

'Team Racing on Forfar Loch'    © Leanne Fischler    Click Here to view large photo

University sailing in Scotland is organised by Scottish Student Sailing. Three team racing League weekends, hosted by different University Sailing Clubs (USCs), are organised each year in the autumn and new year. These also act, for Scotland, as qualifiers for the Playoffs and Finals of the British Universities and Colleges Sport/British Universities’ Sailing Association Team Racing Championships that are held at the beginning of April.

On Friday 8th November, 2013, university sailors from across Scotland arrived in Edinburgh for the first league weekend of the year. On the Saturday morning (following the usual first reunion social of the year…always epic!), teams arrived to glorious sunshine and perfect medium strength winds at Loch Ore, and we had a great morning of sailing. By the afternoon, the wind had dropped and sailing became much slower and shifty, with the course needing to be changed frustratingly often. After 48 races into the round robin, the wind had died completely, and we postponed racing until Sunday. However, we had got a good number of races in and went back to Edinburgh happy and in time for Saturday night’s social, theme: ‘Thrift Shop’, where in true SSSailing tradition, everyone dressed to look as awful as possible, with a disturbing mix of costumes!

Team Racing on Forfar Loch -  © Leanne Fischler   Click Here to view large photo

The next day, with wind predicted to die at noon, racing began early, in difficult conditions. Again there were a frustrating number of shifts and lulls, making it difficult for the course layers, and we were only able to get 22 races in across the whole day. Wind did indeed die early in the afternoon and, with a total of 70 races in the round robin completed over the weekend, the results based purely on race win percentage left Edinburgh Blue in first place, Strathclyde Blue and Glasgow Yellow joint second and St. Andrews Pink third.

Just five days after SSSailing League Weekend One, we were up in Dundee for League 2. Following Friday night’s social (oh to be back in Dundee!), we arrived on Saturday morning at Forfar Sailing Club (a geographically perplexing location where the loch appears to be in front of you, but then it’s also behind you; very confusing for those with slightly intemperate habits the previous night!).

Team Racing on Forfar Loch -  © Leanne Fischler  

Saturday also brought a lot of wind; unusual for an SSSailing league weekend! Initially, this made for excellent racing; we reefed the boats, and we got through plenty of races in a very short time. However, by the afternoon it was getting too dangerous and difficult to continue racing, and, when a mast snapped clean in two, we decided to postpone until the wind had dropped a little! Luckily, it did just that, and, after a short while, we were back out on the water again and managed to stay out while light permitted. Boats were soon packed up, and we were back in Dundee for our social. The theme was ‘dress as another Scottish university’. As you can imagine, all were entirely complimentary and in no way played on stereotypes…!

On the Sunday, in stark contrast to the previous day, we had absolutely no wind. The loch was a perfect mirror most of the day with the occasional promising ripples on the water, which never materialised into enough to get racing started. Despite all boats rigged and ready to go, we ended up packing up early and heading home. Only being 64% into the round robin (110/172 races completed), the decision was made to continue it into the third league weekend, despite that normally being reserved for playoffs and finals. Both Edinburgh Blue and Strathclyde Blue were on 100% race wins at that stage, and so count back against common competitors left Strathclyde in first with 48, and Edinburgh Blue in second with 49! - a very close tie to go into the final weekend. Dundee Black lay in third place with 83% race wins.

Team Racing on Forfar Loch -  © Leanne Fischler   Click Here to view large photo

For our final league weekend, we were back on Loch Ore, this time hosted by St Andrews. Personally, this is my favourite venue due to its ‘Eagles nest’ race officer box, perfect for surveying, and shouting orders, from! A number of slightly frustrating problems encountered meant that racing didn’t start until 10.30. However, with perfect wind, we ‘sailed’ through the races and were set for a perfect day! By the end of Saturday, we had completed the round robin and re-sailed all previous races needing to be repeated due to breakages or protests.

This left us in a very good position going into the Sunday, with a number of options available to us for playoffs depending on conditions. However, arriving on Sunday morning, having dragged everyone up for an 8.30 briefing, it seemed that the forecast hadn’t done the wind justice, and it was far too strong to launch. Following a discussion with all team captains and the SSSailing Committee, we decided to call it a day at 11am seeing as it was still too strong to launch, wasn’t set to drop and we wouldn’t get enough races in from that point on to do a far playoff series.

Team Racing on Forfar Loch -  © Leanne Fischler   Click Here to view large photo

Team Racing on Forfar Loch -  © Leanne Fischler  

Team Racing on Forfar Loch -  © Leanne Fischler   Click Here to view large photo

The overall rankings after our three weekends of racing and the full round robin were as follows:

1. Edinburgh Blue
2. Strathclyde Blue
3. St Andrews Pink
4. Strathclyde White
5. Dundee Black
6. Edinburgh White
7. Glasgow Black
8. Glasgow Yellow
9. Strathclyde Yellow
10. Aberdeen B
11. Aberdeen A
12. Glasgow Red
13. Dundee White
14. Dundee Red
15. St Andrews Purple
16. Aberdeen C
17. Edinburgh Green (dsq)

This means that Edinburgh Blue, Strathclyde Blue, St Andrews Pink and Strathclyde White proceed direct to the British Finals that are to be held on Strathclyde Loch, hosted by the University of Strathclyde from 6-8 April, 2014. Meanwhile, Dundee Black, Edinburgh White and Glasgow Black went forward to the Playoffs held on 1-2 March in Birmingham, together with other teams from English and Welsh universities that have competed in their qualifiers. Glasgow Black has also qualified and will be competing, very near home, in the Finals.

As ever, we have managed to have a great year of team racing in Scotland, and, hopefully, we’ve all enjoyed every minute of it! From the SSSailing Committee’s perspective, it has been a challenging one, contending with some terrible wind conditions, ranging from absolutely nothing to so much that we couldn’t even launch. However, with perseverance from both the race officials and sailors, we finally managed to get a full set of results!

I want to thank Loch Ore and Forfar for hosting us over these three weekends and all our Umpires and helpers. As ever, it is you that make it happen, and we couldn’t do it without you.

I also want to thank all the sailors for turning up and, well, sailing! .....usually helpful to have competitors for these events! Thank you also to all the host universities, Edinburgh, Dundee and St. Andrews for helping run the weekends and putting on excellent socials, and another thanks to all the universities that lent boats and RIBs and to those who did all the towing. It is always much appreciated, and we know how much time it takes to move boats!

I hope you’ve all had a great year’s sailing, and a huge good luck for those going to BUSA Playoffs and Finals. Have fun!

Scottish Student Sailing holds the open Scottish Team Racing Championships from 14-16 March, this year to be hosted by Aberdeen University Sailing Club. The University of Strathclyde will then welcome British universities to the 60th Anniversary Edition of the BUCS/BUSA Team Racing Championships from 6-8 April on Strathclyde Loch.

Follow Scottish Student Sailing here and on Facebook

Follow the Scottish Team Racing Championships here at Aberdeen University Sailing Club.

Follow the 60th Anniversary Edition of the BUCS/BUSA Team Racing Championships 2014 here and on Facebook

by Ruth Cannell-Whiteley


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6:47 PM Wed 5 Mar 2014GMT

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