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Sam

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.

News from the 100th Varsity Match

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The Mixed Match

The 2017 Varsity saw the 100th meeting of Oxford and Cambridge at Itchenor. The racing was done in Swallows, which, though unknown to the Oxford team, provided an exciting challenge. The conditions were perfect both days with steady wind, sunshine and Chichester harbour making for a beautiful backdrop.

On Thursday, the mixed team started the match with the odds stacked against them on. The Cambridge teams had enjoyed some particularly strong recent success to finish 2nd, 3rd and 4th at BUSA. Nevertheless the mixed team gave it their all chasing the Cambridge teams on both days. Cambridge managed to use their greater keelboat experience and strong tactical knowledge to dominate the races and by Friday they had managed to come out ahead.

Our thanks go out to the umpires, who so expertly managed the racing, Itchenor sailing club for their hosting and our counterparts at Cambridge for organising another successful Varsity match.

The Ladies’ Match

With Oxford having beaten Cambridge at Ladies’ BUSA earlier in the year, but only by one place, the racing was bound to be competitive and contested. Excitingly, for the first time ever, the Ladies’ races were 3-boat Team Racing, rather than the usual 2-boat. The move was made due to the strength and size of the Ladies’ squads.

The Cambridge ladies were off to a strong start on Thursday morning. The Oxford girls showed off their team racing skills on the start line but, comfortable and experienced in keelboats, the Cambridge team pulled ahead to take the win. Much of the rest of Thursday was spent looking for wind but, when a racing area was finally settled on, the Oxford girls showed they were ready to fight back. In a nail-biting finish, they took a 1,3,5 winning combination. By Friday morning the conditions were ideal, with the sun shining and a strong breeze. The Ladies teams fought it out in three close races. Some exiting team racing could be seen from the mothership and the boys cheered on their support. Ultimately, the Cambridge girls pulled ahead to win the Varsity Match 2017 4-1, but the level of sailing displayed bodes well for the Oxford Ladies.

It’s Worcester’s year at Cuppers 2017

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Plagued by light winds, the group stages could not be completed before the cut to semi-finals. However, the results were clear and the semi-finals saw:

Brasenose v Magdalen
Worcester v St Edmund Hall

Ineligible for the main trophy, strong displays from Christchurch/Peter’s and Merton/Keble saw these two team lined up in a secondary final.

After some loud, aggressive, and exciting racing, Merton/Keble emerged winners of the mixed-college competition.

In the main event, Brasenose edged ahead of Magdalen on the finish line. Worcester all dispatched St Edmund Hall gaining themselves the last spot in the finals.

Very close racing ensued between the finalists, but Worcester’s 2,3 around the leeward mark proved too difficult for Brasenose to break down and Worcester made easy work of defending the final beat to cruise to a well-earned Cuppers victory.

We look forward to seeing how they get on at Cambridge’ Sailing Cuppers in 9th week!

Cambridge win battle for Top Gun trophy 2017

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Cambridge University (L-R: George Hopes, Hugo Sloper, Jamie Webb, Tim Gratton, James Pinder, Cat Wallace)

The Top Gun Invitational Trophy 2017 ran over the 4th and 5th of March and saw the top 8 university teams fight for the title and prizes kindly provided by Moet Hennessy.

Saturday produced ultimate team racing conditions with 86 races completed leaving team on 15 or 16 races each by the end of the day. Our thanks to the West Berkshire Brewery for providing an excellent selection of delicious beers which the competitors were able to enjoy at the close of racing.

On Sunday racing started promptly on storm sails in order to make the most of aggressive winds. Unfortunately after little more than an hour the conditions became unsailable and racing was postponed. Conditions refused to improve so the call was made to abandon any further racing and the results were decided from stage 1. The standings were clear with no ties needing to be broken – thanks to Keith Sammons at KSail for his help with the scheduling and scoring.

OUYC would like to thank all the teams for travelling the distance to attend the event, our umpire team for their invaluable service, and our event sponsors Moet Hennessy and West Berkshire Brewery.

 

Birdham Bandits cruise to Magnum victory

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Birdham Bandits (c-wise from top left: George Yeoman, Tim Saxton, Sam Littlejohn, Rosie Sibthorp, Sophie Ormsby, Holly Scott)

The Oxford University Yacht Club’s Oxford Magnum 2016 ran over the weekend of 12th-13th November and was once again very oversubscribed with a large number of entries from strong university and club sides. The stage was set for an excellent weekend of top notch team racing across four flights.

Saturday 12th saw racing kick off in light but steady breeze which gradually died to nothing by 13:00. Seamless race management by Jo Lucas alongside a very able team of OUYC volunteers allowed us to get through 44 races of the HLS round in the 3 hours of light breeze that we had producing the following standings at the end of day 1:

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Day 2 saw the format break straight to round 2 which was gold (1-6), silver (7-14), and bronze (15-20) leagues. Sunday really gave us the best conditions that Farmoor has to offer with cloudless blue sky and a steady 8-10 knots of breeze. Despite a serious collision requiring the use of a reserve boat and also snapping another boat’s rudder stock, racing continued practically unimpeded with the leagues being completed in excellent time.

At the end of the leagues the semi finals were drawn. Royal Thames led the way in the gold league so were matched against Society who hadn’t dropped a race and so came out top in the silver league. Semi final 2 matched 2nd and 3rd from gold who were Wessex Exempt and Birdham Bandits respectively.

Birdham sailed through their best-of-3 semi in relative comfort finishing 2-0 against Wessex and taking the first place in the final. Their eventual rivals Society had a harder time of it, losing their first match against Thames who held a textbook 1,4,5 to the finish. However Society fought back and took the next two races 1,3,5 and 1,2,6.

The final saw some top notch team racing from both sides with some closely contested starts. However, the reigning UKTRA champions proved too strong and sailed to a convincing 3-0 lead.

1st – Birdham Bandits – George Yeoman, Tim Saxton, Sam Littlejohn, Sophie Ormsby, Holly Scott, Rosie Sibthorp

2nd – Society – Pete Gray, John Platts-Mills, Owain Matthews, Lib Manser, Ben Rahemtulla, George Clarke

Overall league results:

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-39-44

OUYC’s thanks go out to:

Our umpire team: Greg Eaton (chief), Bruce Hebbert, Chris Lindsay, Nick Rusbridge, Nigel Vick, Steve Watson, Ed Fryer, Paul Robson.

Race management: Jo Lucas, Keith Sammons

Finish boat: Amanda Hebbert

Event sponsors: Moët Hennessy (https://www.lvmh.com/)

Oxford Blue take on top teams at one-day event

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Sam Jenkins writes,

Oxford Blue ventured south to Bough Beech on 28th November to join one in a series of one-day events, the brainchild of Oxford alumni John Platts-Mills and Phil Derry.

Attracting a selection of the top club/graduate-level teams in the country, the competition couldn’t really have been much higher. Indeed the only two university teams were Oxford and Cambridge (2nd and 1st at BUSA last year). Any race wins over the day would be commendable! Still, the Oxford sailors were able to secure wins against the (somewhat weakened) West Kirby Hawks, Royal Yacht Squadron, and others.

Conditions were pretty perfect for most of the day, with a dreamy 12-16 knots puffing down the lake for most of the day. This allowed a full day of really close, exciting racing with teams taking it in turns to umpire and run the start/finish boats.

More than anything we were incredibly impressed by the efficiency of the event format, each team managing to sail 12 races in one day which, in the depths of winter, was fab! OUYC are looking to introduce aspects of this format for their upcoming Top Gun invitational event.

Our thanks to John Platts-Mills and Phil Derry for organising and Andy Cornah of Sevenoaks School for hosting the event.