The RYA and BUSA Women’s Team Racing Championships at Rutland Sailing Club saw Oxford University winning overall to claim both titles.
Thirteen teams battled for supremacy over two breezy days of 3 v 3 competition in Firefly dinghies, 7-8 January 2023, with competition getting underway when the wild, wet and windy conditions eased at 10am on day one to around 18 knots.
With sails reefed, a full-on day of racing ensued. Sunday then saw the teams back on the water at 9am with full rigs to conclude the round robin, with everyone having completed 10 races and Royal Northern & Clyde YC at the top of the leaderboard.
The fleet was split for a gold and silver round robin series and having started the day with around 10-11 knots of breeze, the wind kicked in again for an action-packed semi-finals and finals.
In the semi-finals, Royal Northern & Clyde beat WKSC Girls 2-0, while Oxford Blue took a 2-1 win against the Rutland Raiders. The Petit Final then saw defending RYA champions Rutland Raiders winning 2-0 from WKSC Girls to claim third place overall for 2023.
In the final, Oxford Blue sealed a 2-1 victory over Royal Northern & Clyde YC who finished second overall – giving the team from Oxford University two trophies, for both the RYA Women’s Team Racing Championship and the BUSA Women’s Team Racing Championship.
The winning Oxford team comprised Matilda Evans, Jenny Smallwood, Cate Pile, Fodhla Dunne, Katie Sheehy and Suzie Davison. Team captain Matilda said: “I don’t think I’ve ever done an event that’s just girls so it was quite refreshing and it was great to see lots of female helms. The mix of student and alumni teams was also really enjoyable.
“We were very much thrown in at the deep end as lots of teams hadn’t done much together before and it was a different style of racing but it was really fun. We lost our first race, against the Scottish team who we beat in the final, but we had good teamwork and communication and then had a winning streak.
“It was hard work because of how windy it was and especially the first day, and a lot of the teams would have been lighter than usual for a team racing event, so it was definitely sailing as a physical and not just a mental sport! The whole event was run really efficiently and Rutland were great hosts.”
A three-race sail-off for the Under-19 trophy saw silver fleet winners Royal Hospital School winning against Rutland Hydra, who claimed fifth overall in the Gold Fleet.
Alongside the racing, the teams also enjoyed the club’s Saturday evening social, with a chance to meet and make new friends and refuel with a hearty meal of cottage pie and apple crumble.
Race officer Adrian Stoggall, working alongside event director Andy McKee for the championship, summed up: “It was a good weekend with really hard sailing. Saturday was blowing old boots and although the teams were reefed all day it was full on, and with quick turnarounds and well organised changeovers the sailors were pretty busy!
“Sunday was back to full rigs but it was still on the edge all the time and with the wind building there were a few swims. We had close racing in both the semis and a really good final and petit final. The club did a great job and stayed open for a traditional meal and social in the evening, so we had some fantastic racing and it was nice to see so many teams having a good time.”