One of the first events to open the year was the Women’s Team racing champs at Rutland Sailing Club as thirteen teams battled for supremacy over two breezy days of 3 v 3 competition in Firefly dinghies, with competition getting underway when the wild, wet and windy conditions eased at 10am on day one to around 18 knots.
Scots match racers, Ali Morrish and Emily Robertson, of the Five x Five Match racing team joined Nicole MacPherson, Mags Mornand, Nikki Stewart and Caz Hoole in sailing for the RNCYC, and all getting back into Fireflies to start the season.
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 (RNCYC) at the top of the leader board.
The top two teams from each group progressed to the semi-finals, where the RNCYC team over came West Kirby Girls 2-0, putting them safely through to the finals without dropping a race so far in the series.
Back against Oxford Blue the two teams were level in the three race final, when going into the last race several penalties around the start cost the Scots team dearly against the university team. Oxford University won two trophies for the result, 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.
“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.”
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.”
Good luck to the Five by Five team, who will be all set to more into the larger boats ahead of two Women’s Match Racing events in February in Weymouth, the RYA Women's Winter Match Racing Championship, and the rescheduled 2022 RYA Marlow Ropes Women's Match Racing Championship.