Left to right: Tarra Gill-Taylor, Ella Whitley, Louise Latham, Jason Saints, Meia Harnett and Jason Saints helped Exeter climb to the top of the Sailing rankings with a fourth place finish in the Team Racing finals.

Exeter’s sailors storm to the top of the table.

The University of Exeter Sailing Club are continuing an immense run of form this season, after taking fourth in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Team Racing Championship Finals in Strathclyde, Scotland, 6-8 April.

BUCS Team racing sees crews of six, split across three Firefly boats, race head-to-head against other teams. The finals saw teams compete in a “Swiss League” format, where sides were paired against teams with a similar regatta record, before progressing into a knockout final.

Exeter lined-up alongside 28 other elite University sides, who had all earned their place in a series of qualifiers that had seen over 500 students, from 36 universities, compete.

Meia Harnett and Jordan Saints formed part of the Exeter crew, alongside Tarra Gill-Taylor, Ella Whitley, Louise Latham, Jason Saints.

They reported:  “The three day event saw a wide variety of conditions, presenting challenging conditions for all teams.

“With consistent racing, we finished the [first] day strongly with six wins from seven races, placing us second overall.

“Day two saw very light and wet conditions on Strathclyde Loch, resulting in racing being abandoned early after having only sailed 3 rounds.

“Despite the shifty and challenging conditions we were able to sail well, with strong communication, fast boat-on-boat boat speed and slick manoeuvres, to win all 3 of our races and maintain our position ahead of the final days racing to come.

“The final day saw a change in weather to strong and gusty winds that changed direction throughout the entire day.

“After completing the final rounds we positioned ourselves comfortably inside the top eight, qualifying for the quarterfinals where we faced Portsmouth Black.

“Following on our racing throughout the event so far, the team entered the best out of three quarterfinals confident. We finished the first race with a one-two and were able to secure our place in the semi-finals following a dominant text book race over Portsmouth in race two as well.

“The semi-finals saw us racing Bristol Red. All races sailed were tight with winning combinations switching between Exeter and Bristol throughout the entire race.

“Due to some unforced errors on our side, last year’s winners and favourites to win Bristol, made it through to the finals to face Cambridge Blue.

“The Petit Finals saw us race Oxford Blue to consolidate third and fourth positions. By this stage the wind had picked up considerably to a gusty 25 knots.

“Racing was tight seeing both Oxford and Exeter take a win, respectively, needing all three races be sailed in order to decide third place. The final race was very tense with penalties taken by both teams from the start. After a tough race Oxford secured third place just at the finish.”

Fourth position in the Team Finals follows hotly on the heels of other successes for Exeter sailors. Earlier this season the club took silver at both the Match Racing (March) and Fleet Racing (October) events.

With this most recent finish Exeter became one of just three universities in the country to earn BUCS points at every sailing event this year, and places them at the top of the national rankings with 66 points.

Nick Beasant, Assistant Director of Sport (Performance and Competitions), praised the efforts of the team. He said: “The performance of Exeter’s sailors this season has shown the strength of the club and depth of our talent base.

“To perform well in one sailing discipline is one thing, to consistently achieve top results across the board is something very special.”

With only one event remaining on the BUCS calendar, the club now travels to Portsmouth for the BUCS Yachting Championships, where they will be hoping to secure their place at the top of the table.

Date: 15 April 2014