TentMeals fuel Oxford University Yacht Club to success in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race

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On 12th August 2018, five current and former Oxford University Yacht Club sailors started the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. The marathon race, in which yachts circumnavigate the entire UK without stopping, is one of the toughest challenges in ocean racing. But the OUYC team had a secret weapon: a day’s supply of delicious TentMeals. In thirteen days, they covered 1988 nm, encountering gale force winds on Ireland’s rugged west coast, mountainous seas near the Hebrides, mythical islands in heavy fog and flat calms among North Sea oil rigs. OUYC is proud to be the first university team to have completed the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race – and it wouldn’t have been the same without our TentMeals.

The team – Simon Harwood (skipper), Max Jamilly, Mélisande Besse, Annika Möslein, Will Gibbs and Sean Linsdall – arrived in Gosport on Friday 10th August to prepare for the race. Among over 600kg of food and water were our TentMeals. On day six, having endured historic storms, we rounded Muckle Flugga, the most northerly point in the UK. We couldn’t wait any longer to try the TentMeals and decided it was time for a gourmet day. Our Subtly Cinnamon breakfasts were quick to cook, filling and tasty. Crew members with a sweet tooth were especially happy for a break from biscuits and porridge! Later, for dinner, we shared Almond Jalfrezi and Italian-inspired main meals. The curry was a particular favourite. We were all disappointed to return to our routine ship’s menu the following day. TentMeals were satisfying, lightweight, compact, easy to make and quick to eat – ideal for a fast-paced, high-performance sport like ocean racing. We can’t wait to use them on our next record-breaking expedition!

tentmeals.co.uk/

International Top University Regatta 2018 – Qingdao, China

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The story of China started long before we arrived, and despite naturally haphazard and last minute organisation we were somehow just about on track… That was until the morning of the flight when, Lucy Mellers had awoken in London only to realise her British passport was on a yacht in Foye with the family. Chaos swiftly ensued as we desperately tried to rectify the situation of the visa, however, much to everyone’s disappointment it was not possible, and so our team of five was reduced to four. Despite a minor visa saga at check-in we made the plane and met up with our 4 th member of our team (Marisha Naz) a MBA student who was a new face to OUYC events but soon became a loved member of the team.

At the opening ceremony it became clear to us competitors (who had travelled from countries including Melbourne and Russia) that we were highly prized photo opportunities for the locals, as well as our status as very welcome guests of the Chinese  government who had put phenomenal amounts of money into the event and opening ceremony. Having been met with countless cameras, the ceremony kicked off in what can only be described as the typical Chinese fashion – that we observed – of loud music, promo-videos and mesmerising dancers. If the ceremony itself wasn’t crazy enough the entire city of buildings behind the stage had synchronised lights to create an inspiring skyline during performances. The evening concluded in a bar where we were introduced to the local beer (Tsingdao) which had benefits including easy palatability and low effect on the wallet; a live band kept the teams energised for the evening and was a great opportunity to meet the international university sailors.

Qingdao has a reputation (other than cheap beer), and that is a lack of wind… Which had all the teams concerned; however, these fears did not play into reality during the event. We only saw one day of minimal wind however the race committee seemed experienced with dealing with the situation in the presence of a strong tide, hence managing to pull the racing off on a day where it otherwise seemed bleak. The race course saw a rather stable wind direction on all days, with the largest benefits coming in the form of pressure differences. Making splitting off from the pack a risk that had the possibility of bringing boats back from the dead on the course even in the presence on a significant tidal gradient. This was especially true on the first two days of racing in a light breeze where the sluggish boats responded very well to just a knot or two more breeze over 45+ minute races.

The fleet of new boats I just boats mentioned avoided the horror stories of breakages in the previous year’s event. Yet, their form of Beneteau 20ft twin rudder asymmetric speed machines (in reality we could only hope for them to be fast) resulted in somewhat limited agility. But alas, despite other teams’ complaints about the performance of the boats to the committee, we stayed positive and hydrated despite phenomenal humidity to make the most of the cramped conditions on board even with our 4 crew. Whilst being safe in the knowledge that all the teams were in the same boat (excuse the pun), meaning we all had to deal with the same situation. Marisha’s (our bowman) magic bag of medicine came into use on the penultimate days racing in the form of sea sickness tablets due to a very large swell that had been whipped up by a modest breeze against a ripping tide.

After a tough day racing it was Beer Festival time which began with a journey on the longest bridge in the world before arriving, much to our happiness, to free refills of beer and various performances during the evening – other than Lauren Davis (crew) who was fed cherry tomatoes and grapes as her veggie option. The hotel became a hub for post racing socialising between teams (the bar helped this) and being close to the local metro station meant we were easily able to explore the city during some downtime in order to the most of the amazing opportunity to travel to China. We took a particular liking to a PG massage establishment which gave all four of us a chance to release tension in our muscles after wrestling the boat.

With Lucy stranded in the UK it meant the structure of the boat had  to be reorganised however we did our best to manage the  situation however on occasion (namely spinnaker related) that last pair of hands was missed. The racing was challenging and a change from our team racing pedigree but this kept us on our toes throughout – my role as tactician saw me (James Scott) rediscovering some fleet racing. Sadly we just missed out on gold fleet however were not too disheartened after a close fought initial two days. The final day sadly saw no racing due to a storm making the sea-state even more formidable than the previous day; this left us in our position after 4 days of first in silver after two wins the preceding day amidst a challenging sea-state and a rather light crew, leaving us a respectable mid fleet amongst 12 teams.

Our helm’s birthday (Ali Bibby) coincided with the closing ceremony, and as we mentioned previously the hosts were incredibly generous pushing out a final act of kindness in the form of the two largest cakes to which Ali admitted that “even my own parents could not provide birthday love on that level.” We would like to thank the organisers of the event for their incredible hospitality and precision in the event itself, hence making it an easy recommendation for Oxford to send a team in future years. The social aspect with international competitors and fun atmosphere made the event competitive as well as enjoyable for everyone involved (other than maybe Lauren with her brief moment of seasickness!!!)

OUYC Conquer the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race

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After 13 days and nearly 2000 miles Talisman returned to Cowes

On 12th August 2018, five current and former Oxford University Yacht Club sailors started the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. The marathon 1800 nm race, in which yachts circumnavigate the entire UK without stopping, is one of the toughest challenges in ocean racing. In thirteen days we covered 1988 nm, encountered gale force winds on Ireland’s rugged west coast, mountainous seas near the Hebrides, mythical islands in heavy fog and flat calms among North Sea oil rigs. OUYC is proud to be the first university team to have completed the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.

The team – Simon Harwood (skipper), Max Jamilly, Mélisande Besse, Annika Möslein, Will Gibbs and Sean Linsdall – arrived in Gosport on Friday 10th August to prepare for the race. We had already completed several qualifying races this season and Simon had been working tirelessly to bring the boat up to scratch. Max and Sean jumped off the dock at Haslar Marina to give Talisman a thorough clean below the waterline. Annika joined us from Germany and, once the whole team was reunited, we headed to Gunwharf Quays for a drink and some serious race preparation at Tiger Tiger.

Reluctantly we woke early the next morning and hurried to stow over 600 kg of food and water before crossing the Solent to Cowes. Soon disaster struck: the team satellite phone, our connection to the outside world, stopped working. A big shout out to Max and ‘sat phone’ Gary for spending hours getting it sorted! With Talisman safely berthed at Cowes Yacht Haven, the team headed to the RORC Clubhouse for a briefing and BBQ.

Sunday 12th August was the big day: time to set off on our adventure. Following a last breakfast at Tiffin’s, we spent a nervous few hours on the dock while rumours trickled in forecasting 50+ kt winds and 20m seas in the North Atlantic. We enlisted a questionable French photographer for one last team photo and said goodbye to the dock for two weeks.

Annika Möslein, Mélisande Besse, Sean Linsdall, Max Jamilly, Will Gibbs and Simon HArwood (L-R)

The race started at 1200 from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, the fleet of 28 yachts all heading east towards No Man’s Land Fort, the first mark of the course. After rounding Bembridge Ledge, we did the first of many sail changes as the winds began to gather. The turbulent overfalls off St Catherine’s Point claimed our first seasickness casualty – but luckily Sean was fine after a few hours. As the wind shifted to the west we faced a long, uncomfortable beat to Portland Bill. Méli and Max fell ill too: unfortunately, this lasted a few days, complete with prehistoric vomiting noises and a traumatising experience for an unlucky dolphin.

Passing Bull Rock

As we approached Land’s End, the wind dropped to a pleasant 15 kt with flat seas, a welcome relief from the uncomfortable conditions of the last few days. We rounded Bishop’s Rock off the Scilly Isles at midday on 14th August and began our long upwind journey north-west through the Celtic Sea. Overnight the winds built to a steady 28 kt with regular gusts of 35 kt. After a few night time sail changes we woke up flying a double-reefed mainsail and storm jib. Just over twenty-four hours after leaving the Scilly Isles we passed the legendary Fastnet Rock and the jagged western outcrops of Ireland (Bull Rock and Great Skelling). Shrouded in clouds, they only briefly emerged from the fog. But our sights were firmly fixed north: towards the Hebrides and the gathering storms.

Storm Jib and Trysail up in a North Atlantic storm

Clearing the last outcrops of the Irish coast, we turned north for the 360 nm journey to St Kilda – the last waypoint before Muckle Flugga, a lonely rock in the Shetlands that marks the most northerly point of our course. Each day we received a satellite weather forecast courtesy of Meteorologist Paul (Will’s dad, who kindly read us the shipping forecast). This time the news was extreme: we were on track to cross the tail-end of a tropical storm in the next twenty-four hours. Gale force westerlies and high seas were a certainty. We held a crew briefing: being 100+ miles away from the nearest safe harbour, our options were limited so we decided to ride out the storm but be very conservative with our sail choices to minimise the risk.

Approaching St Kilda on the evening of 17th August, the wind was 35 kt and building. We dropped the mainsail, hoisted the trysail and storm jib and braced ourselves for a very rough night. As the waves rose around us, we had a tray of Jane’s legendary brownies to celebrate Annika’s 22nd birthday. What better way to party than during a storm in the North Atlantic!

Annika celebrating her 22nd Birthday at sea!

Sunrise on 18th August was hidden behind ominous clouds and the wind continued to worsen, as did the fearsome sea state. We measured a maximum gust of 45 kt before the wind instruments died, but bigger gusts continued to blow. Combined with monster waves which towered above Talisman, conditions were perfect for some amazing downwind sailing. All six crew members took the helm to surf at boat speeds over 18 kt. Simon reached 21 kt, a staggering speed with storm sails alone.

After the winds had died down to a moderate 25 kt, it was time to hoist the sails again and get back into the racing mindset. Talisman had other ideas, however: upon hoisting the mainsail we noticed that the top batten pocket had ripped. Méli led a great team effort involving sail patches and Gorilla tape to repair the sail as the wind continued to ease. Soon the conditions were glorious, and we decided it was finally time to make the most of them. Ready for a three-sail reach, we hoisted the lightweight spinnaker – but it spectacularly exploded after less than 5 minutes in the air! Replacing it with the smaller spinnaker, we began to make good progress towards Muckle Flugga.

Rounding Muckle Flugga

The last eighteen hours to Muckle Flugga truly was the calm after the storm, a brief stretch of downwind sailing in 15 kt winds. Even with our larger spinnaker destroyed, we made excellent headway through the chilly waters. As dusk gave way to darkness at 2200 on 19th August, we were delighted when Muckle Flugga finally came into sight and toasted with a glass (or two) of Champagne. It was time, at last, to head south into warmer waters.

Fixing the main in the North Sea

After rounding Muckle Flugga, the storms of the Northern Atlantic became a distant memory and the first 200 nm of our southwards journey were painfully slow due to weak and fickle winds. Morale was high thanks to Max’s constant stream of poor jokes and useless facts (I think we preferred him unconscious and seasick), not to mention regular sightings of dolphins, whales and seabirds and longer, warmer days. The light winds were short-lived and east of Aberdeen the winds picked up again to 35 kt again. We were reefing the mainsail at dusk when a particularly vicious gust tore a metre-long gash in the leech. We rapidly dropped the main and Simon ingeniously fixed the sail using deck sealant, sail patches and Gorilla tape. It was at moments such as this when our strength and cohesion as a team became invaluable. Special mention goes to Annika, who was almost launched skywards when a gust caught the sail as it lay on the deck. Soon the main was patched and re-hoisted just as darkness settled.

An uncomfortable last night at sea

After three days’ journeying south in very light wind, dodging oil rigs and wind farms in the North Sea the breeze steadily built as we approached the Thames Estuary. For the next 12 hours, our boat speed averaged 10 kt and we were soon at the Strait of Dover. We were ready to turn the corner and begin the final short stretch along the south coast to Cowes. But the conditions did not last: the wind veered to the west and dropped below 15 kt off Dover, before building again above 30 kt off Dungeness. Whilst putting in what we hoped would be the last reef of the race, disaster struck. A two-meter stretch of the mainsail leech ripped, making it unusable and resulting in a long night of beating towards Cowes under headsail alone, in storm force winds in torrential rain.

The end was almost in sight and it was agonising to be making such slow progress. Sailing between the traffic separation scheme and the Suffolk coast for six hours against an unfavourable tide, little progress was made, and team morale was low. But eventually the tide turned, and we began to make progress. After searching Talisman from top to bottom, every available sticky patch was used to fix the mainsail leech. We hoisted our patchwork sail for the last time and turned our sights (and stomachs!) towards the finish line.

Back in Cowes after a long and eventful two weeks at sea

At 1200 on 25th August, we passed No Man’s Land Fort to port, finally entering the Solent exactly 13 days after we started. Just over an hour later at 13:34 on 25th August, we finished in an elapsed time of 13 days 1 hour 34 minutes and 17 seconds. We finished 11th (IRC adjusted) out of 28 boats who started. The team was warmly welcomed on Trinity Landing by friends, family and the RORC race committee with several bottles of much-needed Champagne. Thrilled but exhausted, we rushed to the RORC Clubhouse for our first showers in two weeks.

OUYC would like to thank RORC and Sevenstar for organising such an incredible race. Most importantly, we would like to thank our skipper, Simon Harwood, for leading us round and, as always, for putting his trust in us whilst sailing Talisman!

RORC Race report: Cervantes and Myth of Malham

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OUYC is competing in the RORC Round Britain and Ireland 2018 race this August on Talisman, a Prima 38 skippered by Simon Harwood. In preparation for this 2,500nm challenge (read more here), the crew competed this May in two qualifying races, the Cervantes Trophy Race and the Myth of Malham Race.

Cervantes Trophy Race, 5th-7th May

The Cervantes Race takes competitors 130nm across the Channel from Cowes to Le Havre. A team of eight – Sean Linsdall, Louis Manners, Annika Möslein, Eerik Toom, Max Jamilly, Kirstin, Jane and skipper Simon Harwood – drifted over the line at Cowes in mirror-calm seas on Saturday morning. The fleet of 47 yachts was almost parked up in very light breeze and glorious sunshine. The crew of Talisman worked hard to push Talisman out of the Solent before the tides turned. Past Bembridge Ledge, we headed downwind across the Channel and a fresh northeasterly breeze began to build towards dusk. Simon served a delicious sunset chilli (none of us saw the green flash, although Max swore that it exists) and we settled into our watches for a brisk night’s sailing. The skies were clear and Sean showed off his talent for celestial navigation. Annika, fresh from a calamitous Atlantic voyage with her brother, found the whole experience rather tame. In light airs at dawn, we rounded Cussy Buoy, west of Le Havre, and began reaching northeast to A5, before making a final turn towards Le Havre. We crossed the finish line at 15:31 after an elapsed time of 1 day and 6 hours, in ninth position in IRC2 and in 34th place overall. Winner in our class and winner overall was Pintia, a J/133 from Le Havre.

The weather was tropical as we enjoyed a few much-needed bilge beers in Le Havre. Eerik and Louis struck off to find bootleg cigarettes while the remainder of the crew scoured the town for healthy snacks of charcuterie and cheese. Following an athletic seafood supper on the beach, we were joined by a friendly stowaway called Steve and left harbour at dusk for the return journey home.

 

 

At the finish in Le Havre. L-R:Louis, Max, Annika, Eerik; Front: Sean

 

Talisman leaving the Solent

 

The Cervantes Race crew. L-R: Jane, Eerik, Annika, Sean, Louis, Max, Kirsten, Simon (skipper).


 

Myth of Malham Race, 26th-28th May

After a painfully light start in the Cervantes Race, nature seemed to have dealt us a very different hand for the Myth of Malham Race: 25kt winds were forecast for Saturday and gusts of 35kt on Sunday morning. The crew – Sean Linsdall, Will Gibbs, Louis Manners, Annika and Victor Möslein, Max Jamilly, Jane and skipper Simon Harwood – were prepared for a gruelling race, although perhaps not as disastrous as the previous year. This year’s slightly shortened route eliminated the mark near the Needles and sent racers directly west along the coast from Cowes to Eddystone Lighthouse, matching the first leg of the Fastnet Race. At Eddystone, the route doubles back to complete a 230nm round trip.

Given the forecast, we were surprised to begin in a gentle breeze and bright sunshine on Saturday morning. Will trimmed the spinnaker with a magic touch as we made excellent progress at 15kt towards Eddystone. A few racing pigeons hitched a ride with us until Sean evicted them. Nightfall brought pasta Bolognese and dramatic thunderstorms onshore, soon followed by monsoon rains as we struggled to fly the spinnaker in a dying breeze. Jane always had another box of brownies when our spirits dipped. With Sean stoically at the helm, we rounded Eddystone in the early hours on Sunday morning. On Sunday, we stuck close inshore to make the most of fitful breezes but still had plenty of distance to cover by nightfall. Our second night underway was marked by constant wind shifts. Louis and Victor, working on the bow, oversaw countless sail changes which proved exhausting for the entire crew (except for Max, who claims that Sean’s efforts to wake him up were much too gentle). The fleet made very slow progress towards Swanage Head.

On Monday morning, Talisman clung to Swanage Bay in very light winds against unfavourable tides. Three dolphins dancing around our bow accompanied us towards the finish, which we eventually approached at 09:00. Thanks to a strategic decision to stay high on a biased finish line, we drifted across just in time. Boats a few lengths behind us were forced to put down anchor and wait over an hour before they could finally finish the race. We came in fifth place in IRC 2 and finished in 22nd place overall, in a total time of 1 day and 17 hours. 18 boats had retired, including three from IRC 2. The winner in our class was Abu 43, a Figaro II which finished in 1 day and 17 hours.

Sean working hard

 

Dinner at sunset. L-R: Will, Louis, Annika, Victor


 

Follow our progress towards RBI 2018 here http://ouyc.co.uk/events/rorc-round-britain-and-ireland-race-2018/. We are seeking individual and commercial sponsorship for the event. If you would like more information or are interested in sponsoring the team, please contact us for more information.

Oxford Blue win Varsity and BUSA double.

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OUYC’s annual varsity match against CUYC took place over 24/25th March 2018 as part of the Sunsail Racing Series Round 2 in the central Solent. Day one saw perfect conditions of 15 knots. Oxford perfectly executed the start in race 1, despite Cambridge protesting us for having our spinnaker pole out as we crossed the start line (which the RC confirmed we didn’t!). We rounded the windward mark in first place executing a perfect spinnaker hoist and remained in first place for the rest of the race ending up with a well-deserved bullet. Race 2 again was a good start however not quite as close to the pin as we hoped for resulting in a fourth place at the windward mark, however, this was converted to a third place as we crossed the finish line several marks later. After one more race in which Oxford finished 7th Oxford and Cambridge both headed to Cowes for the annual varsity dinner at the ‘Richard Branson Curry House’.

Light winds were in store for day two of the Varsity match

Day 2 saw lighter winds, however, the Sunsail race committee still managed to run two excellent races despite the strong tides and rapidly decreasing winds. Race 4 resulted in an 8th (happy discard!). The final race of the 2018 varsity saw Oxford round the last windward mark in a strong third position, however with less than 100 m to go until the finish line the wind completely died and a strong easterly tide pushed Oxford over the finish line in fourth position. Giving them the varsity win having beaten Cambridge in every race over the weekend and coming fourth overall out of 19 teams.

Oxford: 1st, 3rd, 7th, (8th), 4th

Cambridge: 5th, 7th, 11th, 10th (14th)

Difficult conditions for Oxford Blue on day one

Immediately after Varsity was the annual BUSA Yachting Championships. Day one saw the whole BUSA fleet heading out of Portsmouth and through the submarine barriers for a couple of practice starts followed by two windward/leeward races in little breeze. Race two was raced in less than 7 knots! These did not suit us as we had trained in heavy weather all winter, resulting in a disappointing 21st and 16th place. The third race of day one was the short inshore race. The race started in a steady 10 knots from the south, we finally got back into the motions and were 8th to the windward mark. However, as we approached mark two (the main channel mark for all shipping leaving the Solent) the wind completely died and a strong easterly tide pushed us back out of the Solent. The wind finally filled in and the race was shortened to finish at Gilkicker point, with a disappointing 18th place.

Squally stormy conditions were more suited to Oxford Blue on day two

Day two saw stronger more stable winds, race three of the championship was another windward/leeward which we managed a much improved 5th place finish. The second race of the day was the long coastal race, which was a 21-mile tour of the central and eastern Solent, in very squally wet conditions. At the halfway mark Oxford was in a comfortable top ten position, however halfway way into a 5 mile beat towards Cowes our kicker strop broke causing us to drop a few positions. A brilliantly nailed lay-line into Gurnard and some excellent spinnaker flying back towards Portsmouth ended up with Oxford finishing 10th in the double points race.

Oxford Blue leading the BUSA fleet on a reaching leg of the long coastal race

With places to gain to reach the Championship fleet, we again headed out through the submarine nets into Langston Bay for three windward/leeward races on day three in shifty 10-12 knot conditions. Race 7 saw Oxford execute a textbook start reaching the windward mark in third place. Excellent spinnaker work and a beautiful bottom mark rounding ended up with Oxford rounding the last windward mark in second place. However, the only spinnaker wrap of the entire year occurred as we gybed onto the layline for the finish. Despite a rapid recovery we lost 2nd place and finished with a 13th, 9th and 14th on day 3. Sadly this was not quite enough for us to reach the Championship fleet, however, we went into the Trophy fleet on the last day in a strong position.

Challenging conditions on the last day in the Trophy Fleet

The final day saw Oxford competing in the trophy fleet with windy and difficult conditions (gust of nearly 30 knots!). Race one was a coastal race which saw Oxford reach the windward mark in 10 positions, a successful spinnaker hoist and some excellent sailing along a very windy reach, saw Oxford sail through the fleet into third at the second mark. The world faster spinnaker packer (León López Brennan) packed the hefty Sunsail Spinnakers in record time enabling Oxford to re-hoist and finish the race in a comfortable third place. The final race of the competition was another coastal race. After one general recall, the race eventually got underway, and an excellent first beat and a perfect layline call saw Oxford reach the first windward mark in first place. We successfully hoisted and flew our spinnaker in 25-30 knots of wind, whilst our competitors struggled all the way down the run. A gybe in difficult conditions was successful executed (despite a minor broach) maintaining our lead. The last leg was a four-mile fetch back to Portsmouth in gusty and difficult conditions. Despite this, we held onto our lead and finished the week off with a well-deserved bullet! This was enough for Oxford blue to win the Trophy Fleet.

Oxford Blue: Louis Manners (Trim 1), Annika Möslein (Pit, BUSA only), León López Brennan (Mast), Sean Linsdall (Main, Captain), Josh Bell (Tactics), Lulu Wallis (Bow), Becca Anthony (Helm) and Méli Besse (Trim 2)

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.