2014 BUSA Finals

It mightn’t have been the easiest ride for Glasgow Black on our way to BUSA finals, but after trying our hardest to mess things up, we finally navigated our way through playoffs, and took our place on the start line in Strathclyde Park for the 60th running of the event.

At the start, it looked as though we had set our previous bad form behind us, with a comfortable win over Lancaster Red, making their first finals appearance.

The next race was against Strathclyde Blue, the winners of SUSA Champs. After a strong start, Strath had secured a 1-2 by mark 2, until Andy charged past Angus Grey-Stephens on the run to steal second place. However, even with a pair of spectacular capsizes from Theo Hoole and Emily, Strath held on to the 1-3 and took the win.

This pretty much sums up our event: Me and Moo relaxing between races (Photo credit: Moritz Troll)

After such a strong opening, we then went into a bit of a slump. We weren’t able to salvage our race against Southampton Blue after a poor start, and managed to blow a winning combination against Bristol white.

Emily and Liane going fast (Photo credit, Moritz Troll)

Next up were Portsmouth Purple. We had beaten this team fairly comfortably at playoffs, so we were hopeful of giving them a tough race this time around. Off the start line, we were looking pretty good in a 2-3-5, and in relatively clear air, when Emily’s main halyard decided it had other plans. As Emily helplessly drifted into the shore under jib alone, we were suddenly left in a 2,4,6, and with little chance of rescuing the situation, eventually finishing in 2,3,6.

And suddenly a lot less fast (Mortiz Troll)

Even worse, in the next race against Solent Black, with Andy leading away from the line, his toestraps snapped, dumping him into the water as his boat capsized the other way, and forcing me and Moo to crash tack to avoid decapitating our own team mate. From then the odds were against us, and in spite of our best efforts, myself and Emily couldn’t convert our 1-4-6 into a winning combination, in spite of swapping first place between us twice.

In the final race of the day, we faced Newcastle Black. In a 2-4-5 heading down the run, it looked like Andy had a simple passback to convert to a winning combination. However, the Newcastle boat decided to take the risk or sneaking inside at the mark. Andy quickly gybed back, and shut the door. We were stunned when the umpire produced a green flag, meaning that Newcastle now had a 1,2,6 with just two legs to go.

But at least we had fun (Moritz Troll)

While some of the lazier team members skipped the social that night, Emily turned up the next morning having done full SUSA justice to Bamboo, and if we hadn’t known what a consummate professional and dedicated athlete she was, we might have suspected she was still slightly drunk when we launched. It made us a little nervous when myself and Andy ended up with bad starts, relying on Emily to convert us through. We needn’t have worried though, as drunk Emily stopped the entire team in their tracks for us to sail through into a 2,3,4 and take the race.

She continued in this form in our next race against Lancaster Red, gapping expertly to help us open up a lead of more than a leg at the finish.

Andy and Shona, the blind boat (Andrew Grieves)

In very patchy conditions, our next race was against UCD. In spite of an even start, UCD’s sailing on the beat was better than ours, forcing me and Moo out beyond the layline and attacking backwards aggressively to secure a 1,2 by mark 1, taking a deserved victory.

That night there was no chance of taking things easy, and dressed up as flamingos, lions, parrots, and one very drunk frog, we partied hard into the night, eventually having to accept sharing the social victory with Lancaster and Strathclyde when Kokomo decided it was time for us to leave.

With just one day left of racing, we wanted to make it a good one, in spite of only one out of six of us being in any way approaching sober. The breeze was strong, and extremely shifty, and this caught us out at the start, as Swansea Green reacted more quickly than us to take an unassailable winning combination.

After that disappointing result, we had to pick ourselves up for a huge race against Edinburgh, who had finished top of the Scottish League. After a fairly balanced start, things were up in the air until mark 1, when Andy pulled off a great mark trap, taking out James Logan and Tweak Beardon to let us through into a 1-2-6, which we held onto until the finish, in spite of a few edgy moments on the run.

We followed that up with a great victory over St. Andrews, finally looking like we were putting together the momentum that had eluded us all season. The next race was once again Solent Black, who we were keen to test our skills against, given how we had lost to them last time out. Andy swiftly put any demons to rest, taking first place in a 1-4-5, and after 6 infringed on the run and was given spins, it looked as if we were home free. Emily made contact with a boat at mark 4, but in doing so pressured the boat ahead into rounding, and had plenty of room to take a 360. Unfortunately, her spin was judged by the umpire to be illegal, as she sailed a boatlength to remain clear of the mark between the tack and the gybe ,and she was given a further 720, allowing the final Solent boat through into a 2-3-5. With a fetch from mark 4 to the line, there wasn’t too much either Andy or myself could do to get her position back, and feelings were running pretty high when we returned to the shore with just one race remaining, and another victory snatched from our hands.

The final race was against Strathclyde White, the only Scottish team we had yet to race. We started strongly enough, Andy in first, Emily in fourth, and me fifth, but having taken Pete Cameron beyond the pin and forcing him to infringe. However, we conspired to blow this strong position when Andy overlaid the mark, and I misinterpreted an umpire’s flag as being meant for me when it actually wasn’t, Andy losing his first place, and me and Moo dropping to sixth after as bad a 720 as you are ever likely to see. Our final position was 3-4-6.

At the end of the event, we were ranked 26th out of 28 teams, but our dominance of all things social was cemented at the ball, where we made permanent enemies of all of the English Universities (except Lancaster and Portsmouth, for some reason), no doubt due to our superior ceilidh skills, and possibly also due to the fact that Liane ruined all of their desserts.

Even though we were pretty disappointed with our overall position, it did plenty to give us hope that next year we’ll be back faster and more consistent, and hopefully get some results on the water to reflect our results off it. The mission starts at the 2014 Glasgow Grouse.

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