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98th Varsity Match at Strangford Lough Yacht Club

by Anthony Butler 8 Jul 2015 09:13 BST 1-3 July 2015
98th Varsity Match at Strangford Lough © Niall Eames

Cambridge won the Mixed Varsity Match 4-0 and Oxford the Ladies Match 4-3 on Strangford Lough, N Ireland 1-3 July 2015, in 22ft Sonata keelboats. The event was undoubtedly the best of recent years, with excellent racing organised by Strangford Lough YC under one of Ireland's best race officers, Robin Gray, and a superb social programme arranged by local Cambridge sailor Chris Eames, with strong support from Robbie Gilmore - another local Cambridge sailor. No less than five other sailors, from both teams, had Irish connections. Good umpiring was also to the fore under the watchful eye of Chief Umpire Bruce Hebbert (Oxford & Cambridge SS, plus Irish connections!).

The first day saw Cambridge go 3 up in the mixed match and Oxford go 2 up in the ladies match. A rain squall brought racing to an early close, giving everyone plenty of time to prepare for the excellent evening BBQ for all hosted by the Gilmore family. The Gilmore open air jacuzzi proved very popular after the hard day of racing!

The ladies were put in to race first on the Friday and things began to look distinctly one-sided when Oxford won again to go 3 up. However, Cambridge fought back superbly to take the next three races and leave everything hanging on the seventh grand slam race. And what a race it was, with the lead changing constantly and the outcome in doubt until the finishing line – where Oxford converted their losing 1, 4 at the last mark to a winning 1, 2.

The mixed sailors then took to the field and it was a Cambridge win again to give them a 4-0 victory. However, the score belies the closeness of the racing, with the result open until the final beat. In almost every race Cambridge managed to achieve a winning conversion (in this three-a-side match) only at the final mark of the windward / leeward course - and hold it to the finish line.

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