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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 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.

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!

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

 

Joining OUYC for 2016/17

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Congratulations if you have just received your results!

We are looking for keen sailors to join OUYC for the 2016/17 academic year. The Dinghy squad will have preseason training during the week beginning 26th October so if you have previous experience and would like to join us for that please get in contact with our Dinghy Captain, Joe Gough, dinghy-captain@ouyc.co.uk, who will be able to provide further information. We will also have a stall at Freshers Fair where squad members will be happy to answer any questions you have and on Wednesday 19th October (windy seshprovisional date only) we will host our Welcome Drinks event to provide you with more information and the opportunity to sign up to trial for the squad. We are looking forward to meeting you all!

 

Women’s Open Keelboat Championship 2016

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In early June, Lulu Wallis (Bow), Meli Besse (Trim), Penny Weiser (Helm) and Alison Hinds (Main Trim), competed in WOKC 2016 hosted by the Hamble River Sailing Club. The team competed in a J/80 called Swallow owned by the Royal Southern Yacht Club Academy.

IMG_7483

Meli, Ali, Penny, Abby and Lulu (left to right)

The weekend started with welcome drinks at the club where Abby Ehler gave an inspiring presentation on her experiences of The Volvo Ocean Race 2015 as part of Team SCA. We were extremely lucky to have Abby come on board with us on Saturday for a day of coaching, which was incredibly helpful and gave us a confidence boost for Sunday.

We arrived at the boat in good time on Saturday morning to get an hour of practice in before racing, but predictably our outboard was playing up and so with only 30 minutes to go, we set off out of Hamble river to the start area near Jonathan Janeson.

26908049964_c945e36803_oThe race started with a shifty northerly around 6 knots and a strengthening west going tide. The course was a clockwise windward leeward with a short spreader leg. We made it round the first lap with no trouble, but as we rounded the spreader mark for the second time the breeze began to drop off. Half way down the run to the finish we were becalmed and left fighting the tide with our drooping kite. J’ronimo (J/92) had crossed the line just before the wind died and so with the clock ticking, we sat silent and prayed for a last minute puff but unfortunately, the time limit was called. The race committee, seeing that only 1 of 8 boats had finished made a sensible suggestion to use the times taken at the first mark to place everyone. A couple of boats called for redress and later that evening, after a protest hearing involving all the class 2 yachts, a decision was made to score everyone OTL with 5.5 points.
We drifted around the start area interrogating Abby about The Volvo Ocean Race while we waited for some wind.

Once the breeze began to fill in the second race was started, inevitably it died again, this time at the top mark. The whole fleet compressed and the Clas26908199834_348fff7db6_os 1 boats came roaring in from behind. As the breeze came back Meli got the kite flying first allowing us to fly past most of the fleet, to finish in 3rd, only 1s behind Two Frank in 2nd.

For the third and last race of the day, the wind came up to around 10 knots from the SW. We flew around the track, finishing in 4th, again only seconds in it.

Grins all round, we set off to get ready for the ‘frocks and flip-flops party’ on Saturday evening, unfortunately Abby couldn’t join us as she had to catch a flight to Chicago and see her mate Ben. Hamble River Sailing Club put on a great hog roast and the Dark ‘nd Stormies were flowing. Then came the most exciting part of the regatta; the raffle (all proceeds donated to beating breast cancer). The room was decorated with Spinlock deck vests, winch handles, tablets and many more generous donations, however, green 72 was not a winning ticket. So, full of food and booze we wandered back to Hotel Jimbo, Jon and Ed. I highly recommend it, they have a colossal rum collection and they’re fantastic hosts (thanks again boys!) 5 stars.

Sunday morning was gorgeous, the sun was shining and there was just yandy147950a tickle of breeze. We crossed the line with clear air and decided to follow the breeze up the right hand side of the course. We over stood the top mark, so we sailed fast and rounded just after the leaders. Rounding to port we hoisted and jibed early to stay with the breeze. The run to the finish turned into a tight reach as the wind swung to the South, we just managed to hold the kite and we crossed the line in 2nd shortly after Blackjack II (J/97). The wind then died again, leaving the rest of the fleet floating against the tide to the finish. A couple were called OTL.

We had a lovely long lunch in the sun while the committee searched for wind. Luckily a sea breeze filled in and race 5 got underway. The wind was very patchy and so Penny stalked it up track and we rounded the top mark in first. The next lap was frustrating as the wind became lighter and shiftier but another success as we came 2nd, again following Blackjack II.

We were delighted to find out at the prize giving that we were 3rd in class and 3rd overall.

A great weekend, that I would highly commend. Two days of top quality racing and a lot of fun.

26908239194_3487770442_o

OUYC at the Student Yachting World Cup

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12107111_927340157346267_8568239032670884906_nIn October the OUYC yacht race squad competed in the Student Yachting World Cup. The event was attended by several countries from around the world. The team placed 8th overall and had a fantastic time whilst in La Baule. The event comprised of 5 day’s of racing and a bustling social scene. The full report can be found here