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BUCS Match Racing

posted Apr 8, 2019, 3:01 PM by UK Team Racing Assn - Sailboat Team Racing
Taking place in Portland Harbour, Friday was forecast to have strong winds and rain. Only the rain materialised and the boats that had been reefed to leave the dock were quickly un-reefed after only one flight.. Shaking the reefs was enough to poke the wind gods and fairly quickly we had 20 knots across the course keeping the spinnakers in the bags and the sailors entertained. While the wind was up and down all day, it was never down long enough to get the spinnakers out as teams got used to the boats and their fellow competitors.

In Match Racing the top ranked teams always face off against the lowest ranked teams first, and on the whole racing went to the form book, Southampton, Bristol, Edinburgh, Plymouth & Exeter all headed ashore after their first races undefeated with Newcastle dropping only one race. PRO, Mike Johnson, was aiming to get 16 flights on the board by the end of the day,. All was looking good for a record breaking day until just after four o’clock when the wind thought it was time we went ashore and hit the fleet with a 30 knot gust. With only 14 flights in the bag the sailors headed ashore to pack up and head to RYA Portland House for a warm shower and tasty supper. 

Saturday could not have been more different, 16-20 knots of breeze and glorious sunshine. The sailors made the most of the conditions with full sails and spinnakers the order of the day. The racing intensified throughout the day as the sailors began to meet those with similar experience and the umpire team lead by Greg Eaton were being kept busy with flags flying all over the place. Generally racing carried on to form save Bristol being beaten by Manchester and Plymouth being taken down by Newcastle. With the record of 16 flights firmly in Mike’s sites racing continued a pace as all other sailors on Portland Harbour headed ashore. With everyone enjoying the glorious conditions so much racing carried on past six o’clock and a mammoth 19 flights had been completed. Southampton, Edinburgh, & Exeter still remained undefeated but with the top six still to meet the coveted quarter final places were far from secure.  

On Sunday there were still seven flights to complete the round robin to determine who would make the semi-finals. Races were fought nip and tuck the whole way round the race course and it was not uncommon for teams to be offloading penalties and overtaking just before the finish line. Indeed, Southampton nearly broke their winning streak against Exeter 2 when they were called over at the start but fought back to overtake by inches at the finish line. Another team was so eager to get across the line ahead of their opponent that the pumped their mainsheet one too many times and saw their race win disappear when they were penalised. The final five flights would see the top six ranked teams face off against each other, Southampton continued their winning streak taking the first point from Exeter’s score line who in turn took a point from Bristol. Edinburgh succumbed to Southampton, Bristol and Exeter but with one flight of the Round Robin to go had done enough to guarantee 4th place.. Indeed the results were such that the final flight would have no bearing on the seeding for the semi-finals so racing proceeded without that final flight.

The semi-finals saw Edinburgh challenging Southampton and Bristol up against Exeter in a first to two wins competition. The favourites proved too much for their opponents and Southampton and Exeter progressed to the finals 2-0.

The real action of the day would come in the battles for the top three places. The petit final was another first to two point playoff and with both Bristol and Edinburgh keen to get their hands on the BUCS medals. They levelled the score at one race each but a tough final race saw Bristol take the win and with it third place.

In the final Exeter handed Southampton their first defeat of the competition in race 1. Undeterred Southampton fought back in the second race to level the score. Things were look good for Southampton in the third, as they were set to be close behind Exeter at the windward mark, they had been experts at overtaking all weekend but a last minute dial down from Exeter saw Southampton handed a penalty which they had to complete straight away, this allowed Exeter to sail clear and take their second win of the final. Southampton levelled the score again in the fourth race to set up a sudden death last race. The race was hard fought the entire way throughout but close was not enough as Southampton had picked up a penalty and had to find a way to get rid of it before they could finish. They managed to get underneath Exeter on the final run and push them all the way downwind beyond the finish line. As they had now sailed far enough from the line Southampton dropped their spinnaker and beat back to the finish line where they could take their penalty around the finish mark and taken the final win and with it retain their 2018 title.

Report courtesy of Jack Fenwick The RYA Match Racing Facebook site has the livestreamed Finals  For photos Click Here