The 2017 RYA & BUSA Ladies Team Racing Nationals took place this weekend (25-26 February) at Spinnaker Club, hosted jointly by Spinnaker Sailing Club and Wessex (Southampton University) Sailing Club.
14 teams from across the UK, including nine representing universities, were greeted with strong winds over the weekend racing with storm sails throughout as they battled for RYA and BUSA titles.
Racing began on Saturday with 16 knots of breeze and gusts nearing 30 knots. Despite a few capsizes, 80 races were completed with Cambridge University emerging as the overnight leaders, tying on points with RNCYC (The Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club). Following a slow start, the RNCYC soon found their groove and were closely followed by Southampton Purple who also lost to Cambridge after a capsize. Sevenoaks School were fifth overall going into the overnight break, with six wins from 11 races.
Sunday morning saw the final races of Stage 1 completed and the teams split into Gold and Silver leagues. It was all still to play for with the opportunity of the top placed team in the Silver league to make to the knockouts via a repechage.
Old Jo’s mastered the changeable conditions winning the Silver league from a three way tie with Swansea and SSS. In the Gold League Oxford Blue powered away to six wins from six. Cambridge Blue were second, dropping a race only to Oxford, they were trailed by RNCYC in third. The battle for fourth in Gold and a place in the repechage went to Bristol. Sevenoaks School finished in seventh place to take the Youth Title, an impressive performance from a team much younger than their competition.
With the wind reaching its strongest of the day, a single race was held for the repechage. Old Jo's had the best start, but Bristol’s superior boat speed saw them finish with 1,4, 5 and into the semi-final.
Semi Final One saw Oxford take race one with a comfortable 1, 2, 4 as a large gust wiped out two Bristol boats. Despite Oxford losing a boat after a capsize in race two, they had done enough to book themselves a place in the Final.
In Semi Final Two, race one saw RNCYC power away to take 1, 2 not needing their third boat who had capsized on the start line. Cambridge regrouped and came out fighting in race two, but this was not enough to beat RNCYC who took the other spot in the Final.
The strong winds in the Semi Finals had clearly left Bristol exhausted and despite being offered the chance to race Cambridge in a petit final, they declined giving Cambridge third overall.
With the Final between Oxford Blue and RNCYC, Oxford had already secured the BUSA title and now it was a fight for the RYA Title.
As the anemometer clocked a gust of 33 knots, the Final got underway with Oxford started confidently in race one and when RNCYC had a boat retire following a capsize it was an easy win for Oxford. Huge gusts ripped through the course on race two taking a boat out of play for each team. RNCYC swiftly acted to lock out both remaining Oxford boats to win the race and take it a final deciding race. During the carnage of race two Oxford Captain, Melisande Besse, dislocated her knee, but despite soldiering on, RNCYC led from the start to calmly sail over the line in 1, 2, 3 and take the title.
A fantastic effort by both teams to keep sailing in very windy condition and thanks to all involved in running a successful event.
Full results can be viewed via Spinnaker Sailing Club.