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Varsity Victory for Cambridge University Yacht Club

Following a busy and successful week for Cambridge University Yacht Club, the Club's Vice Commodore Racing, Garrett Bray reports..

"What a week! We've just had a chance to take a breath since the end of 7 days of sailing in the Solent. We won back Varsity from Oxford in as close a competition as it can get! We also had quite a respectable show at BUSA facing a wide range of conditions, winning the silver medal in the Trophy Series, and placing 10th overall."


2019 Varsity Match

Varsity takes place as part of the final Sunsail regatta race weekend before BUSA. The winner is the team which places highest on points in the regatta. There were 7 races across the two days. The first day offered windy conditions, circa 20 knots and a sum of various things going wrong, part due to equipment, part not. By the end of the day of four races, we had come in front of Oxford in two races and behind in two, but were down to Oxford by a point due to relative places.

The night saw us raise a glass to a hard day's sailing with our competitors and friends in Oxford over a dinner out in Cowes.

Sunday saw three races in even windier conditions. Race 5 saw us regain the lead on points placing two spots higher than Oxford. Race 6 saw another switch in position with Oxford placing two spots higher than Cambridge bringing it all down to the last race. With many tense moments and lead switches, Cambridge gained a narrow lead around the final marks and managed to hold it for an extended final upwind beat. 



The BUSA Yachting Championships is the British University Sailing Association's annual national student yacht racing competition. It is held over 4 days, this year from Monday 15th to Thursday 18th April with 22 boats competing. The first three days feature the Qualifying series and the final day features the Championship Series and the Trophy Series. The top eight universities from the Qualifying series compete in the Championship Series, with the remaining 14 boats facing off in the Trophy Series. 


The planned racing for the Qualifying Series varies from day to day, with Day 1 involving 3 shorter buoy racing courses, Day 2 involving 2 shorter buoy racing courses and 1 extended coastal race and Day 3 involving 1 short buoy race courses and a longer (~5 hour) coastal race.

Day 1 was very breezy, blowing mid 20s and gusting up to 30, definitely a day for a reef on the main and we also made the decision to hold back on the spinnaker, which proved a reasonable call given the marginal gains it provided to those game enough to hoist and the myriad of problems some boats ended up facing. Cambridge placed reasonably consistently for the day, 13th, 9th and 9th ending up ranking 10th by end of Day 1; 9th university and only 1 point behind 7th and 8th. Unfortunately our best start at the line ended up as a general recall. The evening of Day 1 featured the main social event for the week, the 'black tie' dinner.

The conditions on Day 2 were dramatically different, with winds a lot lighter and sea state a lot calmer. Despite being fairly happy with our sailing in general, our results slipped in races 4 and 5, placing 14th and 12th. Race 6 was the extended coastal race, and well into the first set of upwind beats, Cambridge were comfortably up with the leaders in 4th-5th place. Unfortunately, a combination of bad luck with wind shifts and being tactically outperformed by several competitors and their superior knowledge of the Solent meant we ended up placing 16th. Overall the day's performance meant we slipped to 13th overall and 11th university. 

The final day of qualifiers provided even more mixed conditions, with races initially delayed for ~3 hours due to lack of wind. Things were just getting started after lunchtime with Cambridge managing a much needed outstanding start only for another general recall to be announced. All was underway for another start when fog set in and races delayed for another ~3 hours. All the delays meant the intended long coastal race of the day was not to be, and instead a single short buoy race would see out the day. Sailing in the race was generally ok, but we weren't able to improve on a poor start and we ended up with an 16, which was our discarded race for the qualifying series, placing Cambridge at 14th at the end of the qualifying series.

The Trophy Cup competition on the final day constituted 3 standard round the buoy races in great sailing conditions and ended up being Cambridge's best day at BUSA, performing best out of all teams competing in the Trophy cup, placing 4th, 4th and finishing with a very much enjoyed 1st place on the final race. Bristol went into the day in a better position on points and deservedly won Gold in the Trophy Cup, however Cambridge were very pleased to take home the Silver medals and an overall 10th place at BUSA.


CUYC would like to congratulate all BUSA competitors as well as acknowledge our Varsity rivals and friends at Oxford University Yacht Club.  We also wish to offer a big thank you to all our supporters, particularly the University of Cambridge Sports Service, and our friends at the Cruising Club.