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September 2017

Oxford take on top universities in Qingdao, China

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This August saw Oxford’s yachting squad flying out to Qingdao, the venue for the Olympic sailing competitions during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Delegates from the city had visited the UK back in the spring to invite the country’s top universities to compete in their inaugural International Top University Regatta and the lineup of competitors was impressive with crews from Melbourne University, United Universities of Amsterdam, Lomonosov Moscow State University, University of California, Qingdao University of Science and Technology, Cambridge University, Imperial College London, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The crew arrived in China early in order to have the opportunity to explore the local area and adjust to the time zone and climate. The Chinese summer was pretty relentless with temperatures rarely falling below thirty celsius and the air pollution and humidity made spending time outside hard to manage.

The Oxford sailors were undeterred however and made the most of the opportunity to explore the city. Particular highlights were the discovery and tour of the world-famous Tsingtao beer factory as well as participating in the annual Qingdao Beer Festival.

Four days after our arrival the teams were briefed by the race committee and drew for boats before heading for a short practice session in the race area. Unfortunately a lot of problems with the boats were identified by all of the teams before and during this session and many hours were spent attempting to source tools, spare parts, and a lot of silicone lubricant!

Maintenance continued the next morning before racing, but eventually all teams made it onto the water in time for the first start. The racing was incredibly competitive with several of the competitors running their own Olympic campaigns. Still, Oxford put in a strong performance and finished the first race in a very respectable 3rd in a fleet of 9.

Unfortunately Oxford soon ran into some unavoidable problems including a snapped shroud, a torn jib, and one crew member catching heatstroke which plagued their performance in the rest of the regatta. After some lengthy hearings with the jury it was decided that Oxford would be awarded redress because these problems were entirely the fault of the organising authority who provided the boats. The perseverance of the entire crew allowed them to finish 5th overall despite having retired from 3 races of the 7-race series.

Despite the poor quality of the boat the team drew for racing, the entire team still had a very enjoyable visit. From the moment we arrived at the airport until the day we departed we felt incredibly welcome in Qingdao and our hosts really went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed ourselves. We really hope that as the quality of the regatta improves in future years this is a trip that OUYC sailors will be able to enjoy for many years to come.

The Sheldon Trophy 2017

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OUYC’s team racing squad travelled to Cowes over the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of September for their annual J70 team racing match against the Royal Yacht Squadron. For the first time Cambridge were also invited to the match making the levels of competition higher than ever.

Light winds on Saturday morning made for a very pleasant ride to Cowes on the Squadron launch but didn’t serve us well once we sailed to the race area with racing postponed until well into the afternoon. A windless race saw Cambridge clinch an early victory against Oxford in their first match after over half an hour of drifting which made tactics all but impossible, let alone sailing! It was a similar story for our first match against the Squadron team.

The wind filled in late in the afternoon which allowed for some proper racing to get underway. Oxford sailed one more race before racing finished for the day, again against Cambridge. A close fought prestart saw Oxford occupy two Cambridge boats at the pin end of the line which allowed the remaining Oxford boats a fast start next to the committee boat. Places continued to shuffle all the way around the racecourse with Oxford rounding mark 4 just behind in a 2,3,6. However, some impressive boat handling from the Oxford crew saw the 6th place boat sneak to windward of the 5th place Cambridge boat and proceed to tack through them up the final beat allowing Oxford to snatch back a victory.

Saturday evening saw the Squadron host us for dinner and drinks on The Platform with incredible panoramic views out over the Solent. We would again like to reiterate our thanks to the Squadron for the invitation, to the individuals who organised the dinner, and to the Squadron staff for the excellent hospitality they provided.

Sunday saw stronger winds and constant drizzle which allowed the heavier Cambridge crew to capitalise and secure the match trophy. Oxford raced well though and took races off the Squadron team demonstrating a very promising improvement on last year’s performance. With Oxford putting the experienced Cambridge team under pressure in every race, we have clearly made great¬†advances in our squad’s strength over the summer and look forward to returning to training in October.