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CoastWaterSports 2014

Birmingham's Old Joe 2017 Team Racing at South Staffs

by Emily Heath & Louise MacIver-Jones 15 Jun 2017 07:52 BST 10-11 June 2017

Close competition and jazz at University of Birmingham's end-of-year team racing event

The 'Old Joe' was hosted by the University of Birmingham Sailing Club over the weekend of the 10th/11th June at South Staffs Sailing Club. Now in its third year, the Old Joe has become a firm fixture in the team racing calendar, timed after exams and before most head off for SailWeek or a long vacation of sailing. The provision of camping, food, marquee, a cool jazz band and beer tent (over and above the Friday social in Birmingham) gave this edition a special edge.

The teams that gathered to race were Birmingham Off White, two Birmingham 'Old Boys' teams, 'Karen and Some Men', Leeds, London Castaways, two Nottingham teams, South Staffs, Surrey Pink & Green, and Swansea Alumni.

Friday night started off the weekend with the sailors descending on Propaganda for a night out, with many crawling home in the early hours of the morning!!

Saturday morning began with a slightly delayed start time, with the race officers watching the wind, which had some very heavy gusts, leading to the decision to start racing in cut-downs. The round robin was soon underway with all teams racing one another. Unfortunately, the gusts continued to build throughout the morning and the decision was made to stop racing at around lunchtime to let the wind die down. With the wind starting to drop, racing re-commenced until 5:30, with each team having completed eight races.

Then it was time for the Saturday night social, which took place in the clubhouse bar and a marquee set-up next to it. Due to the rain, we had a very British BBQ, followed by a very up-beat and cool jazz band who set the tone for the evening and received much applause! Later in the evening, the DJ took over, and the sailors enjoyed a night of partying at the Sailing Club.

All of teams camped, and there was a very high demand for bacon butties the next morning, with the luxury of not having to drive being appreciated by all!

Sunday morning again started with uncertainties about the wind. However, the decision was made to go with full sails, and racing, this time with the teams split into gold and silver fleets, commenced. Racing was very close, especially in the gold fleet, which saw several teams battling hard for the top spot. Unfortunately, the wind continued to build, and even the decision to change to cut downs was not enough to stop the wind getting the better of the racing (or the marquee which decided it wanted to try flying!). This meant the racing had to be cancelled at 2 o'clock, with no option to run a final.

Due to the fact that fewer races were completed on the Sunday, the final results were taken from the Saturday, with University of London Castaways emerging victorious! There was a four-way tie for second on race wins, so the tie break was done on points, leading to Karen and Some Men coming second and Birmingham Off White in third.

Andrew Wishart, captain of London Castaways and a veteran on the university team racing circuit, said: "Brilliant event. Really well run. Great socials – in Birmingham on Friday night and then Jazz and a beer tent on Saturday. Different, with camping making for a great night. Squalls on both days, but we got some very good racing in, especially on Saturday. There were some really close battles, and a lot of teams could have won the event, especially if the leagues could have been completed on Sunday. It was good to see South Staffs SC entering a very competitive team. Can I make a special point? The Catering was really good, breakfasts and lunches provided by Birmingham USC volunteers".

We would like to say a huge thank you to South Staffs Sailing Club for allowing us to not only sail, but also to camp at the club. We hope to see you all next year for more summer sailing!

We are particularly grateful to Jeremy Western for all his photos and videos.

The facebook event page can be found at