Eric Twiname Youth & Juniors Team Racing Championships
A report written by Mrs Payne, Outdoor Education Coordinator
After numerous failed attempts over the past year, this weekend, the RYA and the Eric Twiname Trust were finally able to host the country's biggest team racing event for young sailors, the iconic Eric Twiname Youth & Junior Team Racing Championships at Oxford Sailing Club.
Claires Court Red (U19 "Youth") and Claires Court Green (U17 "Junior") teams were up and ready to sail at 8am on Saturday, only to find Farmoor Reservoir obscured by fog and we all know that with fog, there is no wind, and with no wind, there is no sailing.
Mid-morning saw the fog lift and a teeny little breeze pick up and so with what was probably a little too much optimism, the fleet was duly launched. The teams in the first three Junior races gave it a really good go, but after having to cancel and restart a number of times due to their races timing out, both fleets were recalled and racing was postponed.
The afternoon rolled on, with occasional hints that the breeze would pick up, but alas it didn't. What we did learn as we waited, was that the Sixth Form sailors can be really quite ruthless when playing Uno!
Sunday was a different story. Shortly after arriving at Oxford, the weather decided it was going to play ball, and racing got underway promptly. In just one day, 234 sailors in 47 teams competed in over 230 individual races on the water. The Claires Court teams, having not competed in a team racing event for two years, performed fantastically well.
Team racing rookies, Team Green (Sam B & Ollie P, Jude A & Georgie H / Tori J) were taught some harsh lessons by the much more experienced teams, and though they sailed strong, were robbed at the finishing line on more than one occasion and finished in 16th position overall.
Team Red (Sam W & Jonny P, Elicia M & Ollie L, Jonathan R & Alistair J) performed fantastically well throughout the event, losing out on just two races (and they were very close). Due to the loss of Saturday's sailing, the knockout stage was cancelled, and the competition moved straight from the round-robins to the final four playoffs. Sadly this meant that the team found themselves in a complicated multi-way tie-break situation which, when finally broken, left them in 8th place. One single extra point earned in any of the races they'd sailed would have seen them in the final four and the playoffs with an optimistic shot for a podium finish.
Despite this, they should be applauded for an outstanding achievement all round.
Finally an honourable mention must go to Haydn S who volunteered to step in and lend a hand when another team lost crew last week due to illness. Despite never having actually sailed in a Firefly before, nor met any of the team, or indeed been aware that a sailing club existed in Reading, Haydn joined them for the weekend anyway and gave it his all for them knowing that that's just what sailors do.
Next stop... Cardiff Bay!