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.
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!