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Rowena Conway

Women’s Team Racing Nationals 2018

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On Friday 23rd February two Oxford Women’s teams set off to Glasgow for an exciting weekend competing at the RYA women’s national championships. Spirits were high and the nine hour minibus journey passed quickly.

The event soon got under way on Saturday despite the wait for wind thanks to the quick action of the race committee and the round robin got under way. Oxford Blue had a fantastic day on the water, winning all 10 of the races sailed with 9 of them won in a 1,2. Particular highlights have got to be the two races that we won having gone in to mark 4 with the opposition in a 1, 2. Oxford Crimson also had a great day, securing enough wins to see them placed in the silver league on Sunday.

We then were lucky enough to have a talk about becoming a race official and the general state of participation of women in sailing. We were really impressed by the productivity of this conversation and in general the fact that this seminar was included in the programme. As a club we are considering different ways that we can work to promote women in sailing, something that we consider really important to us. Tackling gender inequality within sport, and in particular within sailing, is something that we all need to be really proactive about and so starting conversations of this kind is an essential first step.

The fun of the day didn’t stop at the racing, with a Ceilidh to look forward to we headed back to Glasgow. Despite our dancing skills clearly not being comparable to our sailing ones, the more experienced Scottish sailors were very patient with us as we attempted to get the hang of the different dances. We really enjoyed the whole evening though we might need to put in some practice before BUSA finals!

Sunday was a cold start, so cold in fact that the lake was frozen when we arrived. The Siberian winds had clearly made it to Lochgelle, with the water temperature recorded at 0.5degrees. However eventually sailing got under way, with the day starting off in Leagues. Oxford Blue’s first race was set up to be a tough one. We were up against BUSA, the only other team who had won all their races on Saturday. The racing was tight and fast paced but Oxford managed to take the win in a 1,3 ,5, setting us up nicely for another competitive day. The league we were in was very close with lots of experienced sailors, meaning that when we broke for finals there was a three-way tie for the fourth place. Exeter won on tie break and so Oxford Blue, who had finished the league first, went in to the semi-finals against them. We continued our no-losses streak to finish 1,2 and 1, 3, 4, so that we just had the final ahead of us. RNCYC had won the other semi-final against BUSA and so the final was shaping up to be a repeat of 2017 where Oxford just missed out on finishing the overall event in first place to RYCYC. There was a certain amount of nerves as we sailed out and we unfortunately lost the first race. However we didn’t want to let this put us off and so we reset ready for the next race. We pulled off a good start and rounded mark 1 in a 1, 2 which we then held for the race, so that both teams were on one race win going in to the last race.

The final race was really close with lots of combination changes going round the course but we managed to win in a 1,3, making us the RYA Women’s Champions 2018 and also BUSA Women’s champions for the second year in a row! We are really proud of this achievement.

Oxford Blue (from left to right):

Jenny Cropley, Rosie Williamson,

Ali Bibby, Rowena Conway (captain),

Lauren Davis, Lucy Mellers

 

 

 

The whole weekend was a great experience, even with our slightly nightmare minibus journey home (7 hours in traffic on the M6 really isn’t an experience I want to repeat!) As a club we are really happy to continue to support women in sailing and in particular were proud that we were able to put out two competitive women’s teams, a great reflection of our ongoing commitment to promoting women within our club.

We would like to thank the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, the race officers, the umpires and all the helpers who put on such an enjoyable event for us! We definitely appreciated the unlimited toasties! We are already looking forward to the next Women’s event!

Imperial Icicle 2018

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Over the weekend 17th/18th February three OUYC teams competed in the Imperial Icicle. With Ladies BUSA the weekend 24th/25th February we entered our two Ladies teams and a third mixed team so that the girls could get some event experience before nationals.

Despite the light winds on Saturday morning, racing got under way reasonably quickly as soon as the wind filled in enough to keep the boats moving. Oxford Blue made a great start in the competition, only losing one race on Saturday which saw them placed second overnight. Oxford White and Oxford Black also had a good day, getting used to sailing with each other and indeed for one member of Oxford White getting used to team racing all together.

Some of our squad proved that they don’t just compete on the water, getting in to the spirit of the social with all the usual enthusiasm, though as those at the curry house will testify it was a rather eventful evening! However despite the late night antics our teams came back strong on Sunday morning, with Oxford Blue getting in to Gold League, Oxford Black in Silver and Oxford White in Bronze. Light winds and shifts proved testing, though a good opportunity for our fleet racer helms in Oxford White to demonstrate their incredible boat speed. In Gold, after some nail bitingly close races and results, Oxford Blue finished 3rd at the event. All looks promising for Ladies BUSA!

We would like to thank Imperial for organising a fantastic event, and providing exceptional hospitality.

Cambridge Blue Takes the Top Gun Trophy

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The Top Gun Invitational Trophy 2018 was earlier than usual, on a blustery weekend at the beginning of February. Eight University teams, from all over the UK and Ireland, descended on Farmoor to compete for the title and magnum bottle of Moet and Chandon.

With gusts of 28 mph and the wind set to build, Saturday started in cut-downs. The competition was tight, providing some fantastic races, but it was Southampton who finished the first day ahead, with 92% race wins.

The Annual Dinner on the Saturday night was a huge success, bringing different teams and members of OUYC past and present together. We would like to thank St Hugh’s College for hosting, Salcombe gin for providing the drinks reception, and to our social secretaries, Leon and Louis, for organising the event.

Bleary-eyed on Sunday morning, races began promptly, and Southampton and Cambridge began to edge ahead. The rolling fronts and building gusts necessitated the change from full mains to storms, and then to the postponement of racing, as even heavy, clunky fireflies began planing down the run. Fortunately our team of volunteers managed to take opportunity between fronts and run a best of three final. Southampton took the first, but it was Cambridge who triumphed and took the Top Gun trophy, in the end.

This event could not run without the hard work and dedication from our volunteers. We would like to extend our greatest thanks to the umpires, to Sam Jenkins our race officer, and all the on the water helpers who helped make the event a success.

Thanks too to Keith Sammons at KSail for his help with scheduling and scoring and also all the teams for travelling the distance to attend the event.

BUSA Qualifiers

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An uncertain forecast marked the beginning of what was to be a tumultuous weekend for the three fresh faced Oxford teams at this year’s BUSA South Central Qualifiers. The teams had been preparing for this weekend with eager anticipating at testing many of their new skills against other universities.

The wind on Saturday was less than forthcoming. With other Qualifiers having to be cancelled we were unsure what to expect. However, the race committee did a fantastic job accounting for the incredibly inconvenient 180-degree wind shift. Oxford Blue enjoyed a successful day with resident wunderkind Jenny Cropley single-handedly taking on Imperial Blue and winning the race for her team. Oxford White and Black were faced with an unfortunate draw but put in some strong performances against some very challenging teams. Oxford White in particular benefitted from the addition of team racing legend Ben Rahemtulla.

Sunday brought with it fantastic weather and an associated very early start. Oxford Blue put in a fantastic performance winning 12 of the 14 races they sailed that day. A particular highlight was beating Southampton Red after Lucy Mellers decided that her tiller extension was superfluous during the pre-start. Oxford Black had an unfortunate day, but showed their metal in beating Oxford White on the finish line of the final beat. Oxford White barely missed out on playoffs after coming 9th and a special mention must go to team captain Ali Bibby for the integrity she showed in what was a particularly difficult race committee hearing at the end of the day.

Oxford Blue however have qualified straight through to BUSA finals! We look forward to pressing on with that momentum at this weekend’s Top Gun. Our relatively young squad found the weekend provided some very valuable lessons with the overall event being very competitive. We are looking forward to our squad building on this in the future!

Our thanks go to the race committee, umpiring team and Wessex Sailing Club for organising a thoroughly enjoyable event.

Pre-BUSA events

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OUYC dinghy squad were busy the 27th/28th January, with all three teams making the most of the last weekend before BUSA qualifiers (watch this space….)

Wessex Winter Warmer 

A Blustery forecast left the team feeling concerned, however, at Spinnaker we were met with ideal breeze for both days albeit a bit shifty (even compared to Farmoor’s standards). With a clashing event in Warwick many of the other Uni teams were up north, instead we faced a barrage of alumni teams whose experience shone through. We certainly came away with some important lessons to take forward. Potentially the most thought provoking was the relationship between not having a hangover and team morale on day two! Oxford Blue is feeling race-ready to take on BUSA after competing in Wessex and refining our tactics in a racing environment.

We would like to thank Wessex Sailing Club for organising a fantastic event, the umpires and the race officer.

Warwick Turtle

The usually easy-going Saturday morning departure from Oxford was given a pinch of excitement when one of the twelve squad members we sent to the Warwick Turtle (Oxford Black and Oxford White) failed to show up at the agreed pick-up point on time.

After a feat of cardio prowess on behalf of Louis Manners, the absentee in question was retrieved and swiftly (but safely) driven to Drycote Water, where both of our teams kicked the day off with strong wins in heavy winds.

Oxford White – a formidable, if novel, ensemble of knowledge, experience, and talent – tacked and jibed their way to the Gold Fleet with ease, only to be sabotaged by untimely capsizes in Finals (in an arguably borderline-windy day).

Special mentions go to Ella Bennett for bravely (and very successfully) crewing for the first time – she has turned out to be as clear-sighted a crew as she is a fast helm; and to Tiarnan Finney (widely known as ‘TX’) for his management of in-race team communication – in the words of one of his teammates: “you follow TX’s calls almost blindly, he’s got it nine out of ten times”.

Oxford Back – an unlikely, if long-standing, assembly of turncoat yachties – saw their Sunday morning hopes dented by two races lost in succession, yet recuperated their morale later on the day and performed some textbook team-racing, only to frustratingly miss first Gold Fleet and then repechage by one point each.

Recognition goes to the herculean efforts of Josh Bell and Louis Manners to compress an unlikely race from positions 2 and 3, after his teammate (whom, in reference to his notoriously good first couple of races, had invited them to “join the party at the top of the fleet”) started off full of water and humbly cruised around the course in a big 6.

Overall a very exciting and fun weekend, our thanks to Warwick for running it.

Michaelmas Term 2017

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The Dinghy side has had an exciting term with trials and lots of training and events! We are really excited to see our squad shaping up with three competitive mixed teams and two strong ladies teams looking forward to BUSA and Ladies Nationals respectively!

The Magnum was a great success with our fixtures secretary, Lauren, doing an amazing job making sure everything ran smoothly. We also attended two events, The Welsh Dragon and the Bristol Brew. We really enjoyed hosting Doshisha University as part of the triannual OUYC-DUYC exchange.

All in all it has been a very successful term on the dinghy side and we are excited for the next calendar year.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.

Welsh Dragon

The Welsh Dragon saw the first time the Oxford teams ventured beyond our comfort zone of Farmoor to face off against teams from over 20 other universities. It was an especially exciting weekend for the 5 fresher sailors that joined the squad this year. After an early start, we were set for an exciting two days racing!

The first day saw Cardiff bay battered by some very heavy winds, which proved quite tricky for our relatively small and new squad to cope with. Oxford Blue had a mixed bag of results winning 50% of their races. A particular highlight was a successful race against the Southampton Alumni team which saw Oxford turn a losing combination up the beat into a 1,2 into the finish. The newer Oxford White team raced some very competitive races against some of the best teams in the country.

Going in to the second day Oxford had secured itself places in the Silver and Platinum fleet. The second day was unfortunately struck by far lighter conditions. It was only at midday that the wind had picked up enough to get some races going again.  Oxford Blue did well to win its only race of the day. Oxford White put in a strong performance, despite multiple boat breakages, in the trying conditions.

Our thanks go to Cardiff University and all the volunteers for helping to make the event such a success.

Bristol Brew

Much like the Welsh Dragon, the Bristol Brew demanded an early start for our team of 6. The event was the first time that the Oxford Black helms were able to sail together in a competitive environment and if the event is anything to go by, they’re in for a very successful year!

We arrived at Chew valley lake to find a notable absence of any wind. The ensuing wait was well received with our squad taking them time to catch up on some sleep and prime themselves for the afternoon’s races. The afternoon allowed only two races, one of which we won, losing the last to the team that would eventually go on to the final.

After an enjoyable social the night before, Oxford Black hit the water in full force to win 5 of their 6 races. A particular highlight included Leon Lopez Brennan compressing a losing 1,4,6 into the best possible combination of 1,2,3. The expressions of amazement on the faces of the opposing team were very much matched by the members of our own team. Oxford Black finished the day in 3rd according to the number of race wins, but unfortunately didn’t quite clinch it into the semi-finals. We finished 5th overall owing to our points, but very happy with the performance of this newly formed team.

We would like thank Bristol and its volunteers for a well-run event.

The Oxford Magnum 2017

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Once again, Oxford University Yacht Club hosted the Magnum Regatta over the weekend 11th/12th November. The reputation of the event going before it we were oversubscribed with entries with 21 high-quality teams attending. This included our fleet racing friends from Doshisha University Yacht Club who adapted to the new boats and different style of racing remarkably quickly! It was also really nice to see lots of Oxford alumni competing.

The event was won however by a Bough Beech team who proved their dominance convincingly, not losing a single race over the weekend! They were closely followed by a Thames Exiles team and the Oxford and Cambridge Sailing Society in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Cambridge Blue were top university, finishing 4th overall.

 

The wind on saturday was very light which delayed racing at times. However the start boat persevered and we managed to get a reasonable number of races in before the close of play.

As always, the social was great fun, fitting 128 people in one restaurant is a challenge but nothing we couldn’t handle! On Sunday a cold northerly wind led to some exciting racing, with a decision being taken to change to cut downs. The conditions meant we were able to get lots of races in which more than made up for the lighter winds the day before, and spirits were high when racing finished.

 

Light winds on saturday

Congratulations to Bough Beech for their fantastic performance!

We would like to thank Keith and Jo for their exceptional effort, as well as the umpires, Lauren Davis, and all the volunteers who helped run the event so smoothly.

Thoughts are already turning to our next event, the Top Gun!

Racing underway on Sunday and Doshisha University

 

Photo credits: Nigel Vick

Oxford’s BUSA Campaign

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Our Dinghy Captain reports on OUYC’s BUSA campaign this year:

This year has been a year focussed on developing a squad which I have every faith will do exceptionally well in the years to come. We kept only one helm and one crew from last year’s first team, and we lost two helms from last year’s second team. Of Oxford Black, four of the team had never sailed for Oxford before, three of the team had not been seriously involved in team racing before, and four of the team have at least two more years sailing for Oxford. All but one of the second team will be sailing next year, and two of the helms have two more years at Oxford; all but two of the third team, Oxford Purple, will be sailing next year, including some sailors who put in exceptional individual performances at the qualifier, and have been improving at an alarming rate. Oxford Black finished ninth at the BUSA team racing finals at the ever-delightful West Kirby Sailing Club. Our second team, Oxford White, narrowly missed out on qualifying to attend play-offs; every team from our qualifier which attended play-offs went on to qualify for the finals. It must be acknowledged that – while our results this year were a vast improvement over last year’s results – they were not as strong as they have been in many years past. However, we should still count this year’s results as a great success. In light of the youth of the squad, this year’s result at the BUSA finals is in a few ways very positive. First, it is unheard of for a team with so little team racing experience to be so close to the quarter finals of BUSA. Secondly, it is extremely promising for next year’s BUSA performance to have done so well this year given how many of the squad have many more years of sailing for Oxford. Finally, it a testament to this year’s rate of improvement that, after just managing to make the top four at our qualifier behind two Southampton teams and the London first team, Oxford Black beat that London team and one of those Southampton teams by over 5 places at finals. For the reasons rehearsed above, Oxford Black went into this year’s finals with no expectations as to our results, and a focus on debriefing well, working together well, and learning as much as we could from each race. This strategy worked well for us, inviting comments from other teams on the quality of our debriefs, and resulting in genuine improvements. The inexperience of our team resulted in us losing some eminently winnable races against on the basis of unforced errors; however, losing races on the basis of such errors will quickly be ironed out by more event experience: the future is bright. I am very proud of the freshers in the squad, and how well they have taken on board my crash course in team racing. If I may end on a wistful note, it was pointed out to me by Swansea – who finished in 8th – that we won both of our races against them.

 

      Oxford Black at the BUSA ball                                                             Oxford Dinghy Squad 2016/17                                                                 
         
(from right to left) Lazar Liebenberg, Lucy Mellers,

Remi Pfister,Jenny Cropley, Joe Gough (captain),  Lauren Davis

 

Ladies Nationals 2017

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For the first time, due to a strong squad of girls, Oxford managed to enter two teams for the Ladies’ RYA BUSA National Team Racing Championships. The event was hosted at Spinnaker Sailing Club with Ed Morris as PRO. The forecast was for strong winds and, combined with the characteristic gusts and shifts of Spinnaker Sailing Club, the conditions were tough all weekend.

Despite this, the OUYC girls held their own with Oxford Blue and White finishing Saturday and Stage 1 of the round robin with a high percentage of race wins. Sunday’s conditions proved even more tough. The day started off with strong gusts but this did not phase the team who finished the round robin in admirable positions: Oxford Blue made it to the Gold League and Oxford White to the Silver. Oxford Blue finished League Stage with 100% race wins, including winning against the very strong Cambridge team, who had narrowly beat Oxford the previous day.

The afternoon saw Oxford Blue competing in the semi-finals. The wind had picked up and although some team-racing could still be seen, the race soon became a game of staying upright around the course – Bristol were defeated 2-0 due to some unfortunate capsizes. Sailing through to the final, Oxford were pitted against an alumni team from Scotland – RNCYC. The first race was admirably won with a 1, 2. A tough start for Oxford saw the second race lost and one boat unable to finish. The third race was won by the opposing team in a 1,2. Despite this defeat, meaning RNCYC were crowned overall, national champions, Oxford could still claim 1st place among the University teams and took home the BUSA trophy. Cambridge took second place, meaning we can anticipate an exciting Varsity match this summer.

Well done to all our girls, thank you to Spinnaker Sailing Club for hosting us, and thank you too all the umpire team. We look forward to attending the event again next year.

Oxford Blue:

Ali Bibby-Meli Besse (Captain)

Jenny Cropley- Anne-Laure Villa

Lucy Mellers- Rowena Conway

Oxford White:

Penny Wieser- Kitty Hatchley

Kathryn Cole- Clare Kendall-Bohoslawec

Gabby Lynch- Lauren Davis