UK National Team Racing Championships

RTYC Red made up of Academy sailors were placed 4th at this weekend’s UK National Team Racing Championships held at Spinnaker Club losing to 2013 National Champions Spinnaker Auspicious in a closely fought semi-final. It was also an excellent event for RTYC members with all four of the teams in the semi-finals containing former academicians and Thames members including eventual winners Wessex Exempt (Jon Pinner, Ben Ainsworth, Tom Heywood).

The event began on Saturday morning with almost perfect conditions – 12kts and sunshine; although the breeze was very shifty at times causing a few races that looked to be all-but-over on the bottom reach, suddenly to be very open on the final beat! The 24 Teams were divided into four leagues of six and each team was scheduled to sail every other team in their league. The top two teams from each league would progress into the Gold league; the next two into the Silver league and the final two into a Bronze League.
As this was the national championships there were no easy leagues and both the RTYC Red and RTYC Blue teams found the going tough on Saturday. Both teams were placed 3rd in their leagues with RTYC Red losing to eventual winners Wessex Exempt and a team from Spinnaker Club (Ed Males) and RTYC Blue losing out to Royal Forth Hoosiers (Tim Saxton) and Itchenor Team Sonicboom.

However the format allowed for the winner of the Silver league to progress, and so close and tense racing took place in this league as there was little margin for error. The race between the two RTYC teams was scheduled early in the league with RTYC Red taking the race 1,3,6 exacting revenge for races earlier in the season in which RTYC Blue had won. With no teams on 100% wins the league was wide open until the very last race of the league in which RTYC Red took on a BUSA Alumni team and won 1,2,5. This left RTYC Red topping the Silver league with 6 wins out of 7 and RTYC Blue in 2nd

RTYC Red sailed against Cambridge Blue in the repecharge. Despite Cambridge winning the first race 1,2,6, RTYC Red fought back and with a 1,2 on the top reach during both of the next two races they sealed their semi-final place winning the repecharge 2-1.

The race committee wished to get the semi-finals started as soon as possible, but the wind flicked round 90° which required the course to be completely reset and moved to another part of the lake to avoid the island. RTYC Red caused a shock as they won their first race against semi-final opponents Spinnaker Auspicious (Tom Hebbert). This was the first race the pre-event favourites had lost all event and especially commendable given the majority of the RTYC team only left school last year and were sailing against one of the most experienced teams on the circuit. There was a rumour that the some of the Spinnaker team members had been team racing since before some of the RTYC team were born! However, Spinnaker ensured order was restored winning the next two semi final races with a comfortable 1,2,4 and 1,2,5.

The RTYC team then sailed in a Petit final against Royal Forth Hoosiers to decide 3rd place. At this point the team had been on the water for close to four hours without a break and whilst they made a valiant effort to take the 1st race, they then lost the next two and were awarded 4th place.

As the final began between Wessex Exempt and Spinnaker Auspicious, the wind continued to be steady in strength, but less than steady in direction. The first attempt at a start resulted in two of the Wessex Exempt team being OCS, but another big wind shift before the start meant the teams were able to fetch the windward mark and the race was abandoned. After another delay to move the course (again), Wessex were determined not to make the same mistake. Whilst none of the races were decided until close to the finish and Spinnaker did not give up their championship title without a fight, Wessex won the next three races 1,2,5  1,2,3 and 1,2,5 resulting in them becoming National Champions 2014.

RTYC Red – Sam Jenkins, Josh Adams, Guy Dixon, Thea Crawshaw, Nick Upton, Joe Gough
RTYC Blue – Phil Derry, Guy Stephens, Ben Gratton, Ben Rahemtulla, Kathryn Twemlow, Catherine Cherry