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BUCS Yachting Championships 2019 - Day 1

by Tony Mapplebeck 16 Apr 22:35 BST 15 April 2019
BUCS Student Yachting Championships day 1 © Karen Rawson

Edinburgh leads from Southampton Green & Exeter on Day 1

The Yachting Championships of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), in conjunction with the British Universities' Sailing Association (BUSA) and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), started in the Solent on Monday 15 April. Over 175 student sailors, in 22 teams of eight, representing universities from St Andrews to Plymouth and Swansea to Surrey set off from Port Solent in Sunsail Fast 40s first thing on Monday morning.

For the rest of the week, until their return to Port Solent for the Closing Ceremony on Thursday afternoon, they will be berthed at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, with a land base for coach debriefings etc at TigerTiger. The event is being hosted by Portsmouth University Sailing Club, with a specially-devised social programme, including, a black-tie dinner on the first night and a quiz.

PRO Jon Nabney reported on the day, while the competitors gathered for the evening video debrief from the coach, Mason King. "We chose the Peel Bank in the mid-Solent south of the Isle of Wight, for racing today, having regard to the anticipated weather conditions. Three practice starts were made. Due to the weather conditions, one reef was used for Race 1. The first start produced a general recall: Flag 'U' was flown for the re-start and six boats were UFD. Race 1 was fairly short at about 3/4 hour. The second start of Race 1 commenced at 120*, with gusts on the course of 28 kn or more, but about half way through moved a bit to the left. The course was altered for races 2 and 3, at 105* and lengthened to 155 nm. During these two races the crews will have struggled to keep control, and, for some, attempts to use the kite had very mixed results, at least one ending up under the keel. So, it was hard work for the sailors, but a good test of their skills and team-working. The mark layer and the coach boat especially faced big seas, and with a heavy chop for the drive back to Gunwharf a heavy wetting [BUSA's Abby West, who accompanied the coach for much of the day, had to suspend her Twitter blog to just hold on!]. Looking forward much lighter conditions promised by the forecast."

Edinburgh's skipper, Miles Jones was busy with a hearing, so we caught up with Hugh Braidwood, the Edinburgh Commodore: "Today has given us confidence in the boat, handling it in heavy weather. We were one of only few to successfully hoist and manage the kite. One member of the crew had a small leg injury, caught between lines, but we are in good spirits". Close rivals on Day 1 (two points in it at the end of the day), were Southampton Green. Tommy Darling gave crisp comment: "Drama free", then adding "take the line at speed", which drew some banter from his team-mates; we are pretty sure someone said, "cannot kite without a kite". The significance became clearer when we learnt about the several kite mishaps today.

Our old friend from Lake Balaton, Balázs Gecse is back at this event with his team from St Andrews, lying fifth at the end of Day 1 among the small group behind the leading pair. Balázs, speaking with his team chipping in, more or less helpfully, declared that we "really enjoyed the day. At one point the adrenaline ran high, because we had to work with the spinnaker something about a Chinese gybe, a colleague chipped in and we had to take it over the windward side. But today was a really good start to the event".

Meanwhile, Freddie Liardet, Exeter's skipper, almost seemed lost for words (an unusual occurrence according to his disrespectful team members): "Pretty breezy day, couple of tasty moments with the kite....". Evidently not too tasty, as Exeter lay in 3rd overall at the end of the day. The "spinnaker issue" seemed to run through the Coach's debrief after the fleet returned to shore. Indeed, two earnest sailors from another team were overheard, en route to the debrief, discussing "the cost-benefit analysis of a hoist"; it had clearly been a good question today.

Dan Venables helm of Warwick (and its Commodore) summed up: "fairly solid day. Kept it simple. Minimise manoeuvres and prioritised the shifts. We had a bad first race, but we were sorted for R2 & R3". It was good to find one crew member recalled the coaching he had had from the architect of Warwick's entry into competitive yachting, Amber Brown, whose wish in 2015 had been to "...hope that we have left some legacy for Warwick Sailing to carry on into future years"; she would be delighted to see her alma mater up there in fourth on Day 1 of the 2019 BUCS Yachting Championships.

The plan for Tuesday is for two windward-leeward races, followed by an Inshore coastal race, weather permitting there is a front coming through very slowly and much lighter winds than today are forecast. In the meantime, the doyenne of Imperial Sailing was overheard to say "who wants to come first when we have to win the Cake Race" a reference to the "Great BUSA Bake Off", which traditionally takes place during the Long inshore race scheduled for Wednesday (clearly strategic thinking figures in her studies, and it sounds like a challenge has been issued!).

Day 1 results after protests:

1st 4019 Edinburgh - Miles Jones
2nd 4023 Southampton Green - Tommy Darling
3rd 4006 Exeter - Murray Hampshire
4th 4026 Warwick - Dan Venables
5th 4005 St Andrews - Balázs Gecse
6th 4015 Swansea - Robbie Robinson
7th 4017 Southampton Red - Ed Myers
8th 4001 Glasgow - Alasdair Ireland
9th 4004 Portsmouth - George Bridge
10th 4011 Cambridge - Chris Cantillo

On-line results, together with all other information may be found via the on-line Official Notice Board.

For updates on the racing and photos throughout the day, see the BUCS Yachting Championships FB page, together with Abby West's blog (when she is not holding on for dear life!) at BUSA Sailing Twitter.

You can follow the fleet on Marine Traffic's tracker.

Especial thanks to Karen Rawson of Sunsail for managing to take and post photos whilst being ARO and managing the flags!

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