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British University Team Racing Championship at Spinnaker - Overall

by Tony Mapplebeck 29 Apr 2019 22:50 PDT 9-11 April 2019

The Finals of the annual Team Racing Championships of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and British University Sailing Association (BUSA) were held at Spinnaker Sailing Club from Tuesday 9 to Thursday 11 April 2019.

This was the culmination of an academic year's selection, training and competition. In February, the largest team racing event, probably worldwide, was simultaneously held over five venues across the UK. 540 sailors, in over some 90 university teams, competed in Qualifiers. Four of these covered English and Welsh universities, at four venues: Derwent Water, Grafham, Spinnaker and Chew Valley. In Scotland the event was the third in a series of 'League' weekends held between December and February at Bardowie Loch and on the Tay (planned events at Forfar having been iced up inside and outside!).

From these five events, 20 teams qualified direct to the Finals. A further fifteen teams went forward to Playoffs, held on Derwent Water, to find a further seven teams to go forward to the Finals. The 28th team invited to Finals is the winning team from the Irish Intervarsities, held in March. The story of the qualifiers this year was covered in a Finals Preview see link listed below.

This year the Finals were held at Spinnaker Sailing Club. It was organised directly by BUSA with support from Spinnaker, but with the incredible support of an army of volunteers, this year from all over the country, many accompanying their teams. The BUSA Technical Delegates are responsible for quality assuring the event, ensuring the best competition possible, but this year it meant directly involving themselves in the leadership and management of the event. BUSA would want to pay tribute the massive commitment, over many months and throughout the event, from the "TDs", Emily Robertson and Chris Lindsay.

Robyn Fitzgerald provides a full report on the racing and conditions: "The forecasting was all over the place pre-event; the most interesting I saw was 4 gusting 22. At that point I decided that we would just have to react to, rather than predict, what was happening.

Day one was fairly stressful until racing was well under way; we had an army of volunteers to get organised and briefed, as well as registration and briefing of the competitors. The wind was light, and we had drizzle all day - it made me and the rest of the Scots feel very at home. We saw through 112 races, despite some big shifts; we managed it with the help of our outstanding course manager, Stephen Green.

"We brought the start time forward by half an hour on day two; the aim was to get in as many - if not more - races than day one, as again we had very little idea of what the wind would actually do. The race committee were well settled into roles, and everyone was happy with the plan. The sun shone, the breeze was mostly light, and we got to race 238. A competitor was overheard saying that racing was running 'too efficiently', a compliment that any RO is happy to hear.

"Although the forecasts were again all over the place, they mostly agreed that the wind would die out in the afternoon of day 3. The start time was brought forward to 9am; with a cut-off time of 12.45 for starting a new round. The biggest decision was when to end the Swiss league and go into knockouts. On one hand you want to get in as much racing as possible for everyone, and on the other you want to have decent breeze for the top boats to battle it out in the final. With places 4-11 tied in round 20, the decision was made to get to round 21 in to help decide overall rankings without using tie breaks. Unfortunately, that's when the breeze decided to go haywire, with massive shifts and AP's constantly going up and down.

"We had our brilliant start boat manager, Abby West, staying on top of everything; Stephen managing the placement of marks 1 & 2 (we had him with mark 1 in his rib until 10 seconds pre start so as to lay it in the best possible place) and Sarah Alcock and Emily Robertson manning marks 3 & 4 to move them accordingly. The course was constantly changing, we even had all the umpires lift every mark when the wind totally died, ready to lay it when the wind decided where it was going to fill in from.

"We got through quarters when the breeze shut off entirely. There was an agonising wait for it to come back, the contingency plan was made and about to be put in motion, when the wind eventually filled in at about 10 past 4 and gave us an absolutely perfect semi-finals and final.

"Emily Robertson and Chris Lindsay, alongside Spinnaker Sailing Club, did an amazing job of organising the event. Nicole Ames was constantly on the go and generally being indispensable, as were Emily and Keith Sammons. Chris and Jemima Riley brought a wealth of experience and did a fantastic job of keeping me in the right. I learned a huge amount from everyone." Well, thanks to Robyn too, we think.

A flavour of the event was posted each day in a series of daily reports (see links below), whilst a Media Team, led by Izzy Burroughs of Glasgow, posted a continuous flow of updates, blogging, live commentary, photos, video, including drone footage, making this the most 'covered' BUSA Finals to date.

The Championship went to Exeter Blue, winning the Finals from Cambridge Blue, whilst Southampton Green took the bronze medals in the petit final from Oxford Blue.

Murray Hampshire, Exeter's Captain, spoke of "BUSA Finals - this is the big one, what we train for, which makes it the one you want to win.....so it is really nice to do so [Murray must have been keen to be the first of the Hampshire team racing dynasty to 'win BUSA']. I have been to three BUSA Finals West Kirby was very good but this one was very high quality. The wind was good- except for the wait for the final races; to get in 21 races each was really good. The event was run very well. I am glad to say that, with a couple of freshers in the team, the potential for Exeter looks good. Particular tribute goes to Cambridge and Southampton that have been pushing all year, as well as through the Swiss League this week".

This year the Finals were run directly by BUSA, led by BUSAs two Technical Directors, Chris Lindsay and Emily Robertson, worked closely with the host club, Spinnaker Sailing. Teams of volunteers from across the country were recruited, a race team to be led by Robyn Fitzgerald established and an international umpiring team led by Jon Napier, together with Jury Chair, Andy Wibroe.

A full Media Team was led by Izzy Burroughs of Glasgow. We are particularly grateful to the drone pilot, Spinnaker Rear Commodore, Andrew Donald and photographers, Tom Martin of Exeter and Francis Treherne-Pollock and Hugh Tomkins of Cambridge, together with Emily Mitchell (Solent) on videography. Lucy Storey (formerly Manchester) and Mark 'Trap' Taylor (formerly Edinburgh) provided commentary over the second and final days for the large audiences on line and on shore, the former synchronised with drone and other video footage. Links to their work are appended.

Overall Results:

PosTeamBUCS points
1Exeter Blue 50
2Cambridge Blue 35
3Southampton Green 24
4Oxford Blue 16
5Loughborough Purple14
6London White 12
7Cambridge Black  
8Southampton Black  
9Bath Blue 10
10Southampton Blue 
11Cardiff Black8
12Plymouth Pink 
13Bristol Red 
14University College Dublin 
15Warwick Black  
16Edinburgh Blue  
17Imperial Blue  
18Durham Purple  
19Exeter Black  
20Manchester Purple  
21Birmingham White  
22Newcastle Blue  
23Bath Black  
24Strathclyde Pink  
25Edinburgh Green  
26St Andrews Pink  
27Sheffield Yellow  
28Nottingham Green 

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