Blustery conditions made for challenging racing for the seven teams competing in the Ceilidh Cup / Scottish Student Sailing (SSS) Match Racing event, hosted at the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club in Rhu, Scotland, on Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th October.
The Ceilidh Cup, a fixture for many years for the club's fleet of Sonar keelboats, resumed this weekend after a Covid-induced hiatus in 2020. Moreover, it is the first competitive event in the Scottish Student Sailing calendar since February 2020.
With similar conditions on both days - a 10-15 knot westerly supplemented by 20 knot squalls as rain showers came through - Principal Race Officer John Readman made an early decision to deploy Flag Romeo, preventing competitors from using spinnakers due the blustery conditions.
However, racing proceeded at a rapid rate, under the watchful eye of Chief Umpire Craig Evans and his team, and on day one a full round robin of the seven teams had been completed by half past four, with competitors returning to the RNCYC clubhouse for curry.
The top-ranked teams after the round robin were Thomas Goodman (University of Strathclyde, 5.5 points); Hector McKerney (St Andrews University, 5 points), and Ali Morrish (RNCYC, 4 points).
On Sunday, the format was a repechage, followed by the semi-finals and finals. The repechage, which formed a mini-round robin of teams ranked 4th-7th, resulted in a 3-way tie, which required significant application of the rulebook to resolve, by reference to the results of the previous round robin. This allowed Craig Macdonald (RNCYC) to progress to the semi-finals. Fortunately, there was just time for the semis and finals before the time limit expired.
The final results after 36 races were:
1st - Ali Morrish (RNCYC)
2nd - Thomas Goodman (University of Strathclyde)
3rd - Hector McKerney (University of St Andrews)
4th - Craig Macdonald (RNCYC)
5th - Jesse Jackson (University of Strathclyde)
6th - Mhari Orr (University of Edinburgh)
7th - Matt Brett (University of Edinburgh)
Therefore, Ali Morrish of RNCYC, with her crew of Brendan Lynch, Iona Smith and James Logan, won the Ceilidh Cup, while Thomas Goodman and his crew of Laura Young, Iain Duncan and Louis Hockings-Cooke from the University of Strathclyde were awarded the SSS Prize.
Morrish said: “We had a really fun weekend and are very pleased to come away with the Cup. In Saturday's round robin I was a bit off the pace upwind and we lost a few races, but we found our groove for the knockouts on Sunday. The closest/most fun match was the last race of the final against Tom which was a nice way to finish.”
Thomas Goodman, winner of the SSS Prize for best student team, added: "Fantastic to finally get back match racing this season and with Scottish students and alumni well represented at the event. I would like to thank my team for all their efforts this weekend: Iain and Louis worked the boats really hard and Laura, who'd never been a keelboat prior to Friday, did an exceptional shift in the middle of the boat. Congratulations to Ali and her crew who despite our best efforts slipped away in the super-exciting finals!"
Event Director Craig Macdonald said: "I'm exceptionally pleased with this weekend's match racing. It's been really exciting to be match racing again in Scotland, and we're keen to build this event back for next year, introducing new generations of students to the tactical challenges of match racing, and the necessary crew-work to make a competitive team."
The Ceilidh Cup/SSS Match Racing will return next year.
The event is part of the RYA National Match Racing Series, which concludes later this month with the invitational National Match Racing Championship Grand Finals at London’s Queen Mary SC in RS21s, 29-31 October 2021.
To find out more about match racing and how you can take part, visit: www.ryamatchracing.co.uk.