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Exeter Sailing 1st Team

BUSA Gold for Exeter Sailing 1s in Team Race

In what has been described as 'the closest team race event in BUSA memory' Exeter beat reigning champions Cambridge 3-1 to end their 4 year winning streak!

Exeter University Sailing Club has been a formidable name on the Team Racing circuit in recent years. One of very few Universities to consistently get multiple teams through the first two  rounds of qualification and into BUSA Team Racing Finals, Exeter arrived with two teams at West Kirby Sailing Club that were both in serious contention for the top spots. Exeter Black – the University’s first team – returned once again with helms Tarra Gill-Taylor (sailing with Charlotte Hooper) and Scott Wallis (sailing with Lewis Lane). Last year they narrowly missed out on the Gold to Cambridge’s first team in a close final. The team was completed by Laurence Carter (sailing with Jess Hammett) who had already attended two BUSA finals, sailing for the second team. Exeter Black’s road to finals was a fairly smooth one, with convincing victories on the University circuit as well as top places at invitational events. The only team they conceded a race to in the BUSA qualifying series was Exeter Blue, the University’s second team, made up of Ollie Grogono (sailing with Carys Randeria), Murray Hampshire (sailing with Annabelle Orme), and Izzy Fitzgerald (sailing with Phoebe Warren). Regularly placing in the top three on the University circuit – and having won qualifiers with 100% race wins - Exeter Blue were in a strong position despite a shaky start to second term due to injury.

In the first two days of the event, both teams raced a variety of University teams. The Swiss-league format means that a team will always race another team on a similar number of race wins to them. In essence, if a team wins several consecutive races they are likely to be drawn against another strong team. On the other hand, losing a few races will mean racing a team that is also struggling.  Situated on the coast, West Kirby threw some challenging conditions at all 28 teams, with the first two days being dominated by strong winds and chilly conditions. Exeter Black were consistent from the off, bouncing only between the top three spots as they conceded only 6 out of 23 races in the entire series. Of the other teams, only Cambridge 1s were consistently stronger. The 2nd and 3rd Cambridge teams were also a force to be reckoned with.  Our second team had a slightly rockier two days: making silly but costly mistakes to weaker teams. By the end of the second day they were back on form, winning races against highly ranked teams and even beating Exeter Black 1, 2, 3 in what is becoming a bit of a BUSA tradition.

At the end of the first round, Exeter Black were ranked 2nd to Cambridge 1s, and Exeter Blue just made it into the quarter finals (and BUCS points) in 7th place. This meant that it would be an all-Exeter best of three to get into the semi-finals. With two boats off the favoured end of the start line in the first race, Exeter Black took a comfortable win but in the second race, Exeter Blue managed a victory. In the final race, with all still to play for, it was Exeter Black that were victorious and into the semi-finals. Exeter Black’s semi-final was against Cambridge’s 2nd team who had been leading after the first day. Despite this, Exeter breezed through with a race to spare.

For the second year running it would be an Exeter Black/ Cambridge Blue final. With the teams almost unchanged from last year, a lot was riding on the five races that would make up the final. Cambridge had been victorious for three consecutive years and cracked under the pressure, losing the first two races off the start with Exeter claiming a 1, 2 in both races. In the third race however, Cambridge pulled it back and won the race in a 1, 3.  The anticipation was high as the third race started, Exeter only needed one more race win to seal the best-of-5. The pressure got to both teams with nearly all of the boats being over the start line at go. Only Laurence Carter had a clean start and stormed ahead from the off. With all of the other boats back over the line, Exeter won the fourth race with another 1, 2.  Cambridge’s winning streak had finally been broken, and the team celebrated (some more willingly than others) with a dive off the pontoon followed by the annual black tie dinner. Congratulations to all of the teams, especially Cambridge who had 3 teams in the top 4, and thank you to University of Manchester for running such a slick event in very challenging conditions. With two of our Exeter Black helms leaving this year, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for EUSC.  

Written by Carys Randi Sailing Club Media Secutary

Date: 18 April 2017