On the weekend of the 13th / 14th of October, eight colleges from around Ireland made the journey to Wexford town for the Irish University Sailing Association (IUSA) Eastern Championships which were hosted by UCD. With a great weather forecast for the October weekend, it was bound to be a great event at Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club. This event is one of the five college team racing events held annually which are sailed in two-man Firefly dinghies.
As it was the first event of the year, all the colleges 1st teams and top ranked 2nd teams from last year were split into Gold A and B Fleets. Then the Silver Fleet was made up of a mix of the remaining 2nd teams, the 3rd teams and the top ranked 4th college teams. All the other teams competed in the Bronze fleet.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, the 28 competing teams woke to reasonable conditions. With a gentle breeze, sunshine and a strong spring tide a challenging day of racing was on the cards. The first day’s racing consisted of a round-robin style format within the four different fleets. Rob O’Leary (Race Officer), with help from George Kenefick (Shore Master), got the racing underway bright and early to ensure that all of the 88 races for the day were completed by 15:00.
After an exciting day of racing that had various ups and downs for numerous teams, the results were cumulated to identify what fleet each team would be competing in for the ‘knock-out finals’ day on Sunday.
Sunday morning dawned with the sun shining and a light breeze blowing. It was going to be a challenging day’s racing, as there was a strong tidal current. The format of racing for Sunday’s ‘finals’ day was the same for each of the fleets. It consisted of a series of knockout races that would lead to four teams sailing in a semi-final. The two winning teams would compete in the final.
The Bronze Fleet competed in the first semi-final. UCD6 took to the water to sail against UCD5. UCD6 coming out as eventual winners and they were the first team to qualify for the final. In the other Bronze semi-final UCC5 sailed against DCU2. UCC5 won their semi-final to qualify for the Bronze Fleet final against UCD6. The final was a best-of-three format; UCD6 won 2-0 and crowned themselves Bronze Fleet winners.
The next fleet to take to the water was Silver. TCD Alumni (promoted from the Bronze Fleet) raced against UCC3 in the first semi-final. The second semi-final was hotly contested between UCD3 and UL2. TCD Alumni convincingly won their semi-final to take on UCD3 in the Silver Fleet final. After not losing a single race all weekend, TCD Alumni came out as Silver Fleet gold medallists.
The Gold Fleet finals got underway with a slightly different format compared to the other two fleets. All the knock-out races were the best-of-three. UCD1 and Alumni comfortably qualified from their respective quarter-finals to face each other in the first semi-final. In what was a hotly contested semi-final UCD1 (2011-12 Varsities Champions) came away with the first race win only to see Alumni regroup and go on to win the next two races and as a result, winning that semi-final 2-1. On the other end of the table, UL1 took to the water to race against UCC1. UL1 sailed at a very high standard and won the second semi-final 2-0. So, after two days of racing it came down to three races between Alumni and UL1 to see who would be crowned IUSA Eastern Champions 2012-2013. Alumni, who had been setting the bar high all weekend, led from the front again and ended up winning the final 2-0.
UCDSC would like to thank Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club for the use of their facilities. All competitors enjoyed great racing and social activities.
The next event on the IUSA College team racing calendar will take place on the weekend of 17-18 November in Valentia.
Alumni: Bella Morehead and Aidan McLaverty, Billy Clarke and Sonia Minihan, Conor Martin and Christine Lynch.