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Exeter Excalibur Team Racing at Roadford Lake Sailing Club

by Nik Froud 10 Mar 02:55 PDT 7-8 March 2020
Exeter Excalibur team racing at Roadford Lake © Exeter University Sailing Club

After five weekends of storms, the first sailable weekend in a long time happily coincided with Exeter University's Exeter Excalibur Team racing event, a popular regatta on the BUSA tour.

Royal Lymington Team members Robbie Urwin, Connie Stock, Andrew Wishart, Remi Pfister, Nik Froud and Rowena Conway made the trip down to the west country, hoping for a good weekend of team racing on Roadford Lake.

Despite the long drives, the team were clearly buoyed by their efforts at the Wessex Winter Warmer, making a positive start to win their opening 4 races against the university teams of Bath, Plymouth, Exeter 2nds and Bristol 2nds. Winds gusting up to 18knots suited the team, all of whom have backgrounds sailing dinghies on the Solent and further afield whilst representing the Royal. Harder races followed against Exeter Alumini, Exeter 1sts and Bristol 1sts, with the team experiencing their only losses of the day against the latter university teams, both races narrowly escaping the team on the final upwind. The last race of Day 1 was a match against the West Country Sailing Society, containing two current BUSA team racing champions and Team GBR Laser Standard sailor Jake Farren - Price. After a close battle, team royal Lymington took the win, leaving them 2nd overall overnight and safely in gold fleet with 12 wins from 14 races.

Day 2 say similar conditions, though the forecast threatened heavy squalls and hail in the afternoon. Hopes of overall glory were kept in check after a comprehensive loss to WCSS in race one of the gold fleet round robin, but the team recovered well to win their following 3 races, including against Bristol 1sts. A disappointing loss followed against Plymouth, before the team won their crucial match with Exeter 1sts to secure a place in the first to two wins semi-final against Plymouth. After the promised squalls arrived, a break in play gave the team a chance to collect themselves before their first ever knock-out team race, and also a chance for Andy and Rowena to inspect the underside of their hull before racing was resumed. Race 1 of the final went Team Royal Lymingtons way and whilst Nik and Remi nearly snatched Defeat from the jaws of victory in race 2, a well-timed gybe out secured the race win and a spot in the final in the team's second ever event.

After a win apiece in their previous races, the final match up of Royal Lymington and WCSS was set to be a thriller, and it proved to be so. Race one saw Robbie and Connie & Andy and Rowena secure a close 1-3 finish, thereby taking the win. This was unbeknownst to Nik and Remi, who found themselves in a spinning race a WCSS boat feet from the finish and were delighted to learn their failure to exonerate themselves quickly enough hadn't cost the team the race. WCSS started well in race 2 and never looked back to tie the final at 1-1, meaning it would go to a final winner takes all race. This time, it was the turn of Royal Lymington to win the start, and after a textbook soap dish on the 1st beat, Nik & Remi and Andy & Rowena rounded 1st and 2nd at mark one and thanks to some superb blocking from Robbie & Connie in 3rd, sailed away to Victory to secure the overall win and the 2020 Exeter Excalibur Trophy.

In the team's second ever event, overall victory greatly exceeded the teams pre event expectations and all were ecstatic on their return to shore. The team would like to thank Exeter University Sailing Club and Jonny Musgrove for an exceptionally well run event in sometimes challenging conditions. Huge thanks must also go to Alan Hill and Vicky Leen for their continued and vital support and particularly John Whyte, without whom team Royal Lymington simply would not exist.

Onwards to the next event!

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