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Cambridge vs. Oxford Varsity Match at Aldeburgh Yacht Club

by Anthony Butler 9 Jul 2013 17:40 BST 3-5 July 2013
Cambridge Mixed Team with Yule Oldham Cup at the 2013 Varsity Match © Anthony Butler

Oxford & Cambridge Share Honours at 2013 Varsity Match

Cambridge ended Oxford's superiority of recent years by winning the 96th Varsity Match held at Aldeburgh YC 3-5 July in Loch Long class keel boats. Oxford Ladies upheld that University's honour by withstanding a strong Cambridge challenge to retain the ladies' title for the fifth year in succession. Each event is decided on the basis of seven races.

Cambridge won the first 2 mixed team races on the Thursday, but Oxford then rode some good fortune well to win the next 2 races on the water – before the umpires deducted half a win for causing damage. The ladies suffered from a failing wind at the end of the day and so only sailed their first 2 races, both won by Oxford.

Friday dawned without a cloud in the sky and the threat of very little if any wind. However, the competitors were favoured with a stable E to NE wind of 5 or 6 knots which was sufficient to run seven good cross-tide races. The ladies started first and Cambridge quickly won two races to square the ladies match at 2-2.

Then the mixed teams took to their boats and, in the first race, Cambridge romped away to an easy 1, 2 win giving them a 3-1½ lead. The next race swung to and fro until the Cambridge second strings established a narrow lead on the final beat – with all 6 boats finishing within a few seconds. A despairing Oxford protest on the finish line was green flagged by the umpires so victory and the Yule Oldham Cup went to Cambridge

Ladies races 5 and 6 went one to each University, resulting in a nail-biting seventh decider. No two-boat team race is over until the last boat crosses the finish line, and this was borne out in the final deciding race when Cambridge tactics gave them an apparently safe 1, 2.

However, one Oxford boat got between them on the final run and sailed well up the final beat to ensure the last boat was a Cambridge one and so enable Oxford to take the series and the O&CSS Ladies Plate

The event was very well run on both sailing and social fronts by Aldeburgh YC, with the Loch Long owners supporting strongly and excellent umpiring by an international team of four.

A gallery of photographs is on the O&CSS website

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