Eleven teams found weather windows to drive to Budworth SC in Cheshire for the RYA/BUSA Women’s Team Racing Nationals – and were rewarded with a weekend of great sailing.
Saturday saw a true Manchester style of weather conditions from light winds to big gusts – sun, rain and just a little snow. The expected high winds from Storm Eunice held off and the races were sailed in full rig Fireflies with the round robin completed on the Saturday and the Gold/Silver leagues started.
With a wet and windy forecast for Sunday, race officer Eilidh Millar sensibly called a late finish on Saturday and an early start Sunday. With another named storm, Franklin, now on its way, the first race started in cut downs at 8am but the winds continued to build over the morning until a big gust tracking down the course blew over 5 boats across the two fleets.
The race committee brought all the boats ashore to wait for a break in the wind. Unfortunately, this did not emerge and it was not felt safe to send the sailors back out so the results thus far and from the completed first Gold League round robin were used to announce a winner.
Rutland SC retained their title with a team this year combining the longstanding Ladies What Launch group and the successful youth HYDRA group. Reigning BUSA Women’s champions Cambridge University showed their experience, combining good boat speed with strong team racing skills to finish second overall and dominate the university championship.
The Geordie Girlz and Scottish Sailors included some strong ILCA sailors, who showed great speed around the course. Another club team taking part was Leigh and Lowton SC, who finished an impressive third overall. They started as fast sailors and finished as team racers – proving to be the nemesis of the ultimately winning Rutland team.
Fiona Tylecote of the Rutland Raiders said: “It was great to see the wide range of ages and experience taking part, including the Event Director and PRO from last year’s event. With I think a difference of approximately 40 years between the youngest and oldest taking part, team racing really is a sport for life.”
One of the local Budworth teams had an ‘in at the deep end’ start, meeting reigning champions Rutland Raiders in the very first race of the event. In light winds they put up a good fight. They lost but drew on this experience with Budworth Red going on to win the Silver Fleet for the club, which has a long history of team racing and Firefly sailing.
Richard Moxey, RYA Keelboat Development Manager, said: “On behalf of the RYA, a big thank you to Budworth SC and the club’s fantastic volunteers who enabled the event to go ahead. It was great to see BSC historical team racing pedigree re-emerge for this championships. We had some really great feedback from the competitors.”
The near sell-out championship over the weekend of 19 – 20 February would have had 15 teams but for Storm Dudley and then Eunice, which prevented two teams from the south coast from attending along with two teams from Dublin – University College and Trinity College – whose ferries were cancelled.
Budworth SC Commodore Bill Kenyon added a massive thank you to the army of Budworth volunteers who came together prior to the event and then worked together to support the RYA organising team: “Our member volunteers managed to pull out all the stops to showcase a first class event despite the gales of Eunice brought to us by the jet stream. It was brilliant to see Firefly team racing at Budworth Sailing Club once again. All the competitors showed a mastery of both sailing skills and rules observance in extreme conditions.”
A full breakdown of results from the event can be found here: RYA/BUSA Women’s Nationals.
Next up on the national team racing calendar is the RYA National Team Racing Championship for the Prince Philip Trophy, 26 – 27 March, at West Kirby SC. Teams are invited to find out more and register their interest for an invitation here by 23.59 on Saturday 27 February 2022.