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Dinghy Sailing Cuppers 2024 at Oxford University Yacht Club

by George Edwards 14 May 05:10 PDT 11 May 2024
Dinghy Sailing Cuppers at Oxford © Thomas Farnsworth

Oxford University Yacht Club hosted the annual Dinghy Sailing Cuppers this Saturday (11th May), which saw four colleges (Exeter, St. Peter's, Somerville and Hertford) compete in a fierce series of two-boat team racing. The glorious sun and gentle breeze provided for perfect sailing conditions for seasoned dinghy squad members as well as the novice team racers that accompanied them.

After a particularly questionable briefing, where the only explanation of two-boat team racing offered was "don't come last", we set off from the beach. The first races were welcomed by a light breeze, which allowed new sailors to get used to the boats, and try their best to understand why sailing directly into the wind doesn't work. The box course allowed for efficient races, which Thomas Farnsworth on the committee boat managed expertly, allowing the first round of racing to go by without a hitch.

The second round brought with it a slightly stronger breeze, catching a few of the crews, novice and experienced, off-guard as they capsized. Although the water was cold (I'm speaking from experience), the sun quickly dried us off and after a slight run in with the bank for one of the Peter's boats, we were back to racing. After quickly finishing the rest of the round, we headed back in for some well earned lunch.

Over lunch we discussed team racing tactics, questioned unusual sandwich choices, and made plans for the rest of the afternoon. The results at this point stood with an impressive unbeaten record of 6 wins by Exeter, followed by 4 wins for Peter's, 2 for Hertford, and Somerville bringing up the rear. We settled upon a third round of racing to fully cement the standings.

While Exeter continued their winning streak, Hertford and Somerville both fought back against Peter's, both managing to gain a win. With Hertford's win over Somerville, that brought the number of wins for Hertford and Peter's to 4 apiece, although Peter's 2-1 record over Hertford saw them through to the finals.

The best-of-three final began with an incredibly tight first race, with both Exeter boats receiving spins on the final beat. Unfortunately, it was not quite enough to bring the last Peter's boat back, and with a clear-cut victory in the second race, Exeter won the trophy, successfully defending their title from last year. With a quick petit-final to decide 3rd place, Somerville decided they needed extra (illegal) help from George Coop. Although it put them back in the race, winning both races, the double dinghy squad helm was banned in the very official sailing instructions, meaning that Hertford took the bronze medal.

A big thank you to everyone who helped out, especially Thomas Farnsworth for managing the committee boat all day, and to George Coop who, when he wasn't sneaking himself onto a boat, was managing the course excellently. Also a big thank you to Oxford Sailing Club for their support in running the event, and to all the competitors who I know had an amazing day out.

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