After the most successful year in domestic competition for Glasgow teams in recent memory, hopes were high for the British Team Racing Finals in Cambridge last weekend. Two Glasgow teams had qualified to represent Scotland in Britain’s premier university sailing event, one of them as winners of the Scottish Leagues.
However, fate had other ideas, and the teams were beset with drop-outs, injuries and Barbados, eventually leaving us short two helms and a crew, a full quarter of our contingent. While this was hardly ideal for the cohesion of the teams, it did mean we were able to call in two extra bus drivers as replacements, making the 9-hour drive down to England slightly more bearable.
Thanks Scotty! © Nigel Vick
Day 1 of the event dawned with 20-30 knots of breeze and the race officer decided to go straight to cut-downs (no reefing for Cambridge. They have staff for that sort of thing). The first race of the day for yellow team was against the Loughborough team who had claimed the bronze medal spot in last year’s competition. Things weren’t looking promising off the start line, with Peter getting shut out at the committee boat and Emily starting behind two Loughborough sailors. However, by the time the fleet reached the first mark, Peter had sailed through to the 1, and Emily to the 2, giving a winning combination that Glasgow held to the finish in spite of strong Loughborough pressure. Meanwhile, after delaying racing slightly due to Louis’ immediate post-changeover capsize, Blue were handed an extremely tough draw against reigning champions Cambridge Blue, and performed strongly, Caitlin securing a third place, although the team were unable to avoid defeat.
Peter and Róisín in breezy conditions © Nigel Vick
The bounce then took its toll, as yellow were handed three really challenging races against Oxford, Cambridge Yellow and Cardiff Black, being dealt three close defeats, before arresting the slide with a 1-2 win against Cardiff Red, followed by a bitterly-fought 2-3-6 defeat against Strathclyde Blue, with multiple lead changes and the standard amount of stress we’ve come to expect from races against the other Scottish teams this season.
Louis not feeling the stress ©
While all of this was happening, Blue were starting to find their stride. At first with Louis sailing superbly from the 3 to the 1, surprising even himself so much that he fell out of the boat and was dragged over the line, then with two excellent back-to-back victories against Swansea White and Birmingham Green.
Louis makes the BUSA twitter feed
This left both teams on 2 wins overnight, but due to the closeness of the league and the black magic of the Swiss League tiebreak system, Yellow were sitting in 22nd place, and Blue in 26th after 8 rounds.
The theme for the social that night was “Cambridge Stereotypes”, and, unusually for Glasgow, we were well and truly beaten at the costume game by all of the other unis, who stayed at home for a quiet night in, bar Swansea and two lonely Portsmouths, capturing the true essence of Cambridge more accurately than we ever could have.
© Angus Gray-Stephens
The breeze had relaxed substantially for the second day, and after early losses for both Glasgow teams, everything was set for a showdown between them. With four boats over at the start and another spinning, there was a solid 20 seconds of heart-pounding carnage before the dust settled and Glasgow Yellow emerged in a winning 1-2-4 combination.
Glasgow v Glasgow © Nigel Vick
This sparked a revival for Yellow, as they went on to win three of their next five races, including a tense 2-3-4 against Liverpool Red, who had beaten us in the final race of the previous day. Blue, on the other hand, were sailing well, but failing to kill off races against the highly experienced and well-drilled opposition.
Another strong performance on the social front that night with regular partners in crime Swansea and Birmingham left both Glasgow teams with the momentum going into the final few rounds of the Swiss League on Thursday morning. Blue team started off with two more close losses in the failing northerly breeze, while Yellow were once again performing strongly, overturning an Oxford 1-2-5 right on the finish line with Peter forcing 1 into a foul, and Scott nailing a tack to snatch a Glasgow 1-2-6. They followed this up with a 1-2-6 victory over Swansea White, setting up another tense meeting with Glasgow Blue in the final race of the event. A win for Blue would lift them above Birmingham Green and off the bottom of the table. A win for Yellow would raise them from 23rd to 20th place, with no Glasgow team having finished higher than 25th since a joint 19th at the 2010-11 event.
The usual intensity from Doros © Nigel Vick
In extremely light conditions, Glasgow Blue ended up in a 1-5-6, with Caitlin desperately trying to compress the race down the run, before being hooked rounding mark 3, which allowed Yellow to sail into a 1-2.
This finished off the Swiss League, and in spite of good performances from both teams, neither of us had made the quarter finals (maybe next year!).
Final placings were:
Many thanks to everyone whose support made the event, and all our success over the last season possible. Until next year!
Still smiling! © Nigel Vick