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 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!

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

 

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.

 

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