University Sailing League 7 Dec 2023
This weekend saw the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club hosting the second round of the new University Sailing League, run to the short-course fleet racing format which has proven to be popular for events such as the British Keelboat League.
Seven teams from Plymouth, Solent, and Portsmouth universities, along with the local team led by Niamh Davies, gathered at the club on a cold and foggy Saturday morning to wait for the pontoon and boats to be de-iced and the fog to lift so we could get racing under way (once Race Office Edwin Buckley was happy he could actually still see the windward mark…).
The teams were resplendent in colourful team wooly hats – courtesy of Tim and Sarah Matthews of TMA Chartered Surveyors – which made finding sailors much easier, especially the team with the lime green hats who were nicknamed ’Team Grinch’ for the weekend !
Despite the lack of visibility the racing was tight, with fair-tide starts catching some teams out and the short course meaning that mark roundings were pretty much always done in the company of other boats, which also kept our umpires Ian Gray and Nigel Cole on their (slightly frozen…) toes !
The team from Solent University, skippered by Linus Rindsfuser, set the bar high with a series of wins in the early races and then continued a strong performance over the whole event, either winning or being in the top 3, regardless of which of the 707s they were sailing. Team ‘Portsmouth Pink’ (skippered by James Hall) were keeping them on their toes, and once Niamh and her crew could be persuaded to go sailing they were frequently at the front of the fleet, unless they were aground…
After 10 races in mostly foggy conditions (allowing Team Phoebe to create a new game of “spot the boat” as they loomed out of the fog…) the crews headed ashore for a much appreciated curry and various student shenanigans !!
Sunday dawned grey, damp, and breezy, with the decision to see how the wind settled before committing to sailing down to the River Roach to set the course. A quick blast down the river saw the teams raring to go and the Solent University team picked up where they left off, while the other teams were all visibly better coordinated and quicker around the course, despite the decision not to use spinnakers in the gusty conditions. In actuality, that made for closer racing with a number of boats overlapped as they crossed the finish line, emphasising the tightness of the racing and the competitiveness of the teams.
After a damp chilly day with another 10 races completed, the teams headed back for a well-earned warm-up and the prize giving.
The winning team from Solent University were presented with a trophy, courtesy of a long-standing member of the RCYC, John Barker, who heard about the event and wanted to offer a trophy that had been commissioned many years ago for an event between the London Pirates and the Castaways, both of which were university sailing teams. From John:
London Pirates for team racing was a Club one joined by invitation. Sadly it no longer exists.
Castaways was (and sporting an amended name ) still is, a sailing club for ex University of London SC members (albeit ULSC too has undergone a name change !).
The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club has a long tradition of promoting the sport of sailing in many ways including team racing. Captained by Robin Judah it’s team was a past winner of the Wilson Trophy.
A team racing competition between the three clubs and sailed in Squibs was hosted by RCYC in the seventies and eighties but for some reason sadly faded away and it’s Trophy forgotten. Kept ‘safe’ in a draw at the Corinthian it was retrieved last year to grace the table of the (not that many) remaining ‘Old Pirates’ at their reunion supper. It was designed by Colin Stokes and Tim Barrett who have given their blessing to its being re presented to mark the success of the team emerging as winners of this event.
Thus we hope to carry on the tradition of supporting university sailing and we look forward to welcoming the teams back next year.
This is my last SailMail as Rear Commodore Sailing, and I wanted to thank everyone who has made the last three years as interesting as it could have been – from figuring out what we could do during Covid restrictions, to hosting top level events with great feedback, and introducing a number of new sailors to the club, thank you to everyone who has contributed somewhere and somehow. I’m looking forward to a break over the winter before seeing as many of you as possible on the water in 2024.