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Ocean Elements 2018
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Exeter University Sailing Club Reunion Race Weekend

by Lily Carter 27 Apr 2018 14:58 BST 21-22 April 2018
Sailing in the sun during the EUSC Reunion Race Weekend © Will Roberts

Sunny weather and smiles all round for Exeter University Sailing Club's debut event

Exeter University Sailing Club took a break from revision last weekend, to host their brand-new event: "EUSC Reunion Race Weekend". Open to members, alumni and family alike, the event saw five teams descend to the Solent to compete for the Rory Cheetham Memorial Cup, in a fantastic weekend of friendly racing.

Good wind all weekend meant that the sailors managed to fit in a full round robin on Saturday, and half on Sunday before going into the tense knockout stages. Southampton cruised to victory, proving that quality over quantity, is the key to success. They didn't lose a single race the whole weekend, despite having only three crew on Saturday and two on Sunday! However, they were pushed to their limits in a tight final with Exeter, with a steadily building wind providing difficult conditions. Exeter's kite went for a dip, so Southampton were able to win the two races, best out of three.

Bates Family & Co finished 3rd after sailing well all weekend, whilst the 'newby' Exeter freshers took 4th place. The wooden spoon prize was presented to Exeter's alumni team, who finished in 5th place. All were in good spirits at the Prize Giving on Sunday, when the winners were awarded the Rory Cheetham Cup. As requested, the cup was filled with the sponsors drink, Exmoor Ales, and 'chugged' by the winning team!

As well as the sailing, competitors enjoyed some great tanning time as the sun came out, making it the hottest April day in history. Sadly, the rain kicked in during the evening, but this didn't dampen the sailor's spirits, who still enjoyed partying on Saturday evening. They headed to Jesters for the social, and danced away until the early hours (in case the earlier reference to a late start on Sunday was not recognised for what it was).

Exeter's Commodore, Belle Body, gave the prizes and commented: "The weekend ran smoothly with lots of sailors new to match racing and some to J80s as well, a vast amount was learnt by all and provided for competitive racing in idyllic weather conditions."

The Cup was donated by the Cheetham family. Rory Cheetham was an active member of the Exeter University Sailing Club, its joint Social Secretary in the current academic year and skipper of one of the two Exeter entries in the 2017 J80 World Championships, sailed in the Cheetham J80. A former student of Manchester Grammar School and rugger player with Wilmslow Wolves, Rory, a keen conservationist, was studying biology at Exeter with a view to becoming a shark specialist. A regular surfer, as well as sailor, Rory was surfing on Saunton Beach in Devon on a January day this year in perfect conditions. On his way back to Exeter, Rory, who suffered from a rare genetic heart condition, ARVC, passed away.

His father has written about him on Rory Cheetham's Just Giving page - www.justgiving.com/fundraising/be-more-rory, the family seeking to give support Surfers Against Sewage - www.sas.org.uk, whose head has responded on the Just Giving blog, acknowledging the contributions already exceeding £11,000 toward their Plastic Free Coastlines Campaign. The same weekend as the Reunion Race, Rory's fellow Social Secretary of EUSC this year, Phoebe Warren, ran in the London Marathon, raising money for SAS in memory of Rory. Another friend, Phil Snell recently completed a charity ride - "No Andorrdinary Ride" - on Rory's red bike, from Exeter to Andorra (to join Exeter Snowsports), also raising funds for the Surfers Against Sewage, via the above Just Giving page.

For its debut run, the EUSC Reunion Race Weekend was a great success, and, hopefully, it is one which we will see hosted annually.

Thanks to Will Roberts, Exeter's Treasurer, for the photos (not sure how he managed the RIB selfie, but apparently the camera was kindly loaned by University of Exeter Sport).

Follow Exeter University Sailing on www.exetersailing.com, www.facebook.com/EUSC1, www.instagram.com/eusc_sailing and twitter.com/EUSC_sailing

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