At the end of March, UCD Sailing Club broke their long drought when their first Team won the IUSA Intervarsity Championship beating Trinity in the Final. This result enabled them to qualify for the British University Sailing Association (BUSA) Championship from the 11-13 April UCD 1 representing IUSA and Ireland at this select 32-team event. This was a closed entry event with over 200 British Teams having to ensure qualification. After 2011, this was only the second time Ireland were lucky enough to be given an automatic single spot allocation. It took place at West Kirby SC, Liverpool known as the home of British Team Racing and the venue for the coveted Wilson Trophy every year. It was superbly run and organised by University of Liverpool.
Travelling to and from by the Dublin-Liverpool ferry, the team assembled on Tuesday ahead of the three intense days racing Wednesday to Friday. Aidan McLaverty travelled from Edinburgh having just won the Scottish SUSA Championship with an Open Team so confidence was high before the first day.
Wednesday dawned to clear skies, sun and beautiful wind. It could not have been any better. The format of racing followed that of a Swiss-League whereby as every race was completed, depending on the result of that race chose your next opponent so that teams of similar win-percentage raced those teams around them continually. Racing soon got underway in typical on-time British fashion. Racing was intense, incredibly tight with the level of competition colossal. For a first day out and adjusting to sailing at a much higher standard of racing that the norm, UCD finished with 4 wins from 7 after Day 1.
Thursday awoke to more perfect conditions. 10-12 knots and an earlier start time meant many more races should be completed. Keen to improve on the day before, UCD in the first seven races were immense; winning starts with ruthless tactics around the course to move their way rapidly up the leader board including notable scalps against Oxford, Southampton, Durham, Swansea and Bristol. They occupied top position after 15 rounds for a period before losses to Cambridge and the other Southampton Day moved them back to 3rd at the end of Day 2. However, a clear marker had been laid down, enough to worry the opposition ahead of Day 3 Finals.
On Friday, the final day of racing, it was not the conditions from the days before. It was much lighter, shiftier, and unpredictable with conditions ever changing. More Swiss-League racing was completed with UCD achieving wins over Oxford and Durham in the morning to ensure their place in the quarter-finals where it was so, so close from 1st place to 10th place.
UCD faced Durham Blue again in their quarter-final and true to form, although losing their first race in the best-of-three encounter, they prevailed 2-1 to move into Semi-Finals. Here they would meet Oxford White, defending champions, a team they had raced twice already having won once and lost once to them already. In the first race, UCD looked comfortable off the start line when a huge right hand-shift put paid to their chances promoting Oxford to a strong 1-2 to take the first race with UCD unable to get close. In the second race, once the course had been re-laid, they raced again and this time unfortunately UCD misread the windward mark. This dropped them from a winning position and again handed it to Oxford. They made no mistake to win the match 2-0 and strike a devastating blow in UCD hearts.
The Final of the BUSA Championship was to be decided between Oxford White and Southampton Turquoise while UCD Ireland took on Southampton Magenta. In the best-of-three encounter, clearly still thinking of the semi-final they lost the first, however in the second and third races they improved, sailed better and won both races to secure the Petite final and 3rd Place in the BUSA Open Championship. Southampton beat Oxford 3-0 in the Final to deservedly take the title they had come so close to in 2011. For UCD, they were left reflecting on what could-have-been having beaten Southampton in Swiss-League. However they should be extremely happy with the overall result. It was the best Irish result ever at this such competitive team racing event; representing UCD and Ireland proudly on and off the water.
A great few days of racing, some of which will never be forgotten by this team but to do it required a lot of hard work over the year. We would like to thank University of Liverpool and West Kirby for hosting such a fantastic event as well as the students that allowed us to stay with them in their homes. Lastly we would like to thank UCD Sport, the rest of UCD SC and all our followers at home for their continuous and unanimous support throughout the few days. It really was a great help, we only wish you could have been there too.
UCD 1 Team:
Simon Doran & Aoife Cooney, Barry McCartin & Eimear McIvor, Aidan McLaverty & Bella Morehead
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