UKTRA National Championships 2016
The UK Team Racing Association National Championships were run over the weekend of the 12/13 March at Bough Beech SC. Soph and I were sailing with our team the Birdham Bandits and coming off the back of wins at the Wessex Winter Warmer and the One Dayer we were feeling confident with our chances. Unfortunately the forecast was to be believed and with no wind on Saturday the 25 teams sat and waited before finally being sent home with Sunday’s sunny 10 knots to look forward to.
Everyone arrived back on Sunday for the fog to clear and reveal a building, shifty northerly F2 and warm sunshine. The race committee set about endeavouring to complete a tough schedule of ranked group round robins, followed by Gold league and then Finals.
At first glance it looked as though the rankings had gone a bit awry with Birdham Bandits being placed in a “group of death” which included past world champions, the West Kirby Hawks and outside favourites BYOB with only the top 2 going through to Gold league. We had beaten BYOB in the finals at Wessex but were yet to face the Hawks who had previously won this event 3 times.
We started our group with the toughest two matches against Hawks and BYOB and this start to the group would decide which two teams went through to the Gold league, as long as we won our remaining matches. The first race against the Hawks saw us chasing from the start with Hawks leading round the bottom mark in a 1-2 but Sam managed to get a piece of one of them and held them up enough to allow Soph and I to come and take over the lock, meanwhile Tim sailed around the edge into 1. It all turned around so quickly thanks to a small shift but we took the race 1-2-3. Against BYOB we again got off to a slow start with Tim taking 2 while Sam caused enough havoc for us to round in 3 and convert Sam through to 4 along the top reach giving the 1st placed BYOB boat a lot to do down the run, and the race eventually finished with a last ditch move losing BYOB 1st place giving us a 1-2 to win the race. We managed to get through the rest of the round unscathed to qualify for Gold league in 1st place.
After a quick lunch and refuel the teams were back on the water for Gold, Silver and Bronze leagues. In the Gold league things were getting tight. We continued our vein of form winning all our races to book our final spot. Royal Thames Blue however were on a rampage only dropping one race to us and sweeping aside the past World Champions West Kirby Hawks as well as their sister team to claim 2nd place in the Gold league and other spot in the first-to-two-wins Final.
Royal Thames Blue continued from their aggressive ascent up the league taking the start to us and taking a controlling 2,3,4 combo off the line and around the first mark. Down the run the race closed up and we managed to turn the race into a 2,3,5 double covering and passing the boat in 4th and dropping 1st to dispatch the boat in 2nd into 4th. With the race up for grabs up the final beat it split into 2 sides with the Bandits trying to convert a 2 on 1 on the left and the Thames doing the same on the right and it was a race to complete the pass over first. Tim made the job on the right take too long for the Thames and Sam and I managed to sail through to win the race from the left hand side.
Race 2 saw a much more even start where we rounded the top mark in a 1-3-5 and down the run a gybing battle was going to be the decider when the two Thames boats received penalty turns giving the race and the event to the Birdham Bandits.
It was great to have some hard work pay off. We have been racing against Tim and Sam for a long time and have raced with them on and off, so to finally get together and see it all pay off was really satisfying. In team racing an individual performance may win you a race, but being able to rely on your team mates wins events, not everyone can sail a perfect race every race, so to know that your team mates will have you covered is a massive weight off your shoulders and lets you race more freely.