Yachting BUSA this year was held from 15-18thApril in Sunsail F40s, racing against 22 teams from 17 different universities and sailing out of Gunwharf Quays. 2019 made for an OUYC first, as the depth of the squad this year meant that we were able to enter two teams, competing as Oxford Blue and Oxford White. This proved a great opportunity to have a ‘development squad’ of up and coming sailors who have just joined OUYC.
Day 1 saw three windward/leeward races in the strongest breeze of the week, with gusts of 30 knots. All teams decided to sail with a reef in (which is particularly unusual for BUSA), and Oxford Blue chose not to fly the kite for the first race in order to sail as clean as possible in the tough conditions. This proved to be a good strategy, with a 7thplace finish our best of the day (and of the qualifying series). Unfortunately, a few late starts and some equipment issues, with all the sheets and guys falling off the kite on our first hoist, means that we finished in 15thand 17thfor the subsequent 2 races.
Oxford White bravely decided to fly their kite on every downwind leg, and they managed to keep it under control for 2 of the races, finishing in 16thand 20th. Unfortunately, the final race saw a spectacular Chinese gybe, which meant that they finished in 22ndin the last race of the day. Ryan made sure that all this happened whilst the coach boat was filming their sailing, which meant that the end of day briefing saw the gybe played over and over again to all the other teams.
Bryn replaced Becca as helm for Oxford Blue on day 2, as Becca had a really important interview in London. The wind was much lighter, which meant that the start of the first windward/leeward was slightly delayed. Oxford White had a great upwind leg which saw them one of the first at the mark, with a 20thplace finish, whilst Oxford Blue had a poor start which saw us finish in 15th. Both teams sailed really well in race 2, which was rewarded with a 9thand 19thplace finish respectively.
Day 2 was also the day of the short inshore race, which involved a short upwind leg, and then a long reach around the forts. Some great navigation from TX saw Oxford Blue in the first half of the fleet until we cleared the forts, but the race was unfortunately cut short due to lack of wind and foul tide, which meant that the navigational gambles for both teams didn’t pay off, and we finished in 17thand 20threspectively.
There was no wind at all on day 3, but race committee had the whole fleet motor out to wait for the sea breeze. Cabin fever got the better of us, and we had a great morning rafting alongside other boats, dancing, playing Becca’s famous box game and practising MOB drills with a football. The breeze did pick up later in the morning, and a course was laid, but just as we were lining up for the start thick fog rolled in, which meant that we couldn’t see the rest of the fleet, let alone the marks. We couldn’t return to Gunwharf as QHM were on fog routine, so ended up motoring around in circles, having fun with the kazoo fog horn, doing some relay races around the boat and then making a cake for the cake competition of the day. We managed to get one windward/leeward in after the fog lifted, where we came 8thand 18threspectively. Oxford White won the cake competition with Jess and Maria’s amazing creation, which makes it two years running for Oxford!
On the final day, both teams competed in the Trophy fleet and sailed really well in the dreamy conditions of 8-12 knots of breeze. Some great tactical decisions from TX and Harry saw Oxford Blue finish in 2nd, 3rdand 9thto take home 4thin Trophy fleet and 12thoverall, whilst Oxford White finished in 11th, 11thand 13thto finish 13thoverall. Oxford White were thrilled to have been selected by the coaches as the most improved team of the Championship. This is testament to the success of having a development squad this year, which has given so many more people an opportunity to race. As part of this, we have won a free charter, which will be instrumental in continuing to develop our strong squad next season.