Team racing finals
Nearly 300 races were sailed over three days to find the national champions from 24 open and 10 ladies teams who had qualified from their respective regions - including Scotland and Wales - earlier in the year. Conditions ranged from a perfect force 2-3 and sunshine to snow, squalls, and then at times not a zephyr, all dealt with clinically by the race management team.
Day 1 (Wednesday 9th April): three seeded open leagues that saw an unbeaten Oxford 1 surprise 2nd seeds Bristol 1 to join a cruising Southampton 1 in the Super Gold League and secure automatic qualification for the quarterfinals, along with Cambridge who survived a single loss to 3rd seeds London in the process.
A ladies round robin was also sailed from which the two Southampton teams, Oxford, Bristol and Cambridge emerged with the best records to go through to a Gold League.
By the end of Day 2, Southampton 1 had still not lost a single race, whilst elsewhere in the open competition a right scrap was underway for the five remaining quarterfinal spots. Bristol recovered their form to win the Gold League, Loughborough and London also securing their places on finals day with strong challenges. And after a nervy set of playoffs that resulted in a three-way tie, local boys Southampton 2 had to give way to the delighted second teams of Oxford and Bristol.
A few sore heads were amongst those who had made it through to Day 3 and the knockout rounds after a hugely entertaining BUSA Ball in Southampton. Perhaps inspired by the Louis Vuitton Cup, the Super Gold League teams were allowed to choose their opponents for their respective quarterfinals, and in a very light and shifting breeze that caused the first few matches to be postponed mid-race but which gradually settled during the morning, Southampton dispatched Oxford 2, Cambridge beat Bristol 2, Oxford beat London over 3 races, and Bristol beat Loughborough.
The semi-finals saw some excitingly close racing enjoyed by a growing throng of supporters on the bank along the right hand side of the final windward leg to the finish. Southampton overcame Bristol 2-0 and Oxford were made to pull out all the stops to end Cambridge’s dreams of avenging the other Boat Race from Putney, again 2-0.
In the best of five final, Southampton, led by Ben Field, only needed three races to see off Oxford in a fine display of pre-start manoeuvring and speed advantage to successfully defend their BUSA title with an unstoppable string of first and second place combinations. In the process they extended their unbeaten record to 20 victories over the entire competition.
Meanwhile, the Southampton Ladies team was in the process of cleaning up in the ladies knockout rounds, beating Cambridge to meet Bristol – who dethroned last year’s winners (Oxford) - in the finals. Despite losing the first race to Bristol, they came through to collect the title with two consecutive wins.
In the end this was an event that was efficiently and professionally organised, managed and won by Southampton University: a unique achievement.
1. Southampton 1 (Ben Field, Tom Foster, Andy Cornah, Kate Fairclough, Paul Campbell-James, Toni Corlett)
2. Oxford 1 (Ali Hall, Anya Woods, Mark Ellis, Emma Beazley, Lizzie Vickers, James Dickinson)
3. = Cambridge, Bristol
5. = Loughborough, London 1, Oxford 2, Bristol 2
Silver League Winners – Bristol 3
1. Southampton 1 (Karen Greenland, Katie Haighton, Helen Brown, Rosie Gayman, Katie Archer, Liz Peacock)
2. Bristol (Amanda Lassen, Helen Clarke, Fiona Hall, Sophie Sutcliffe, Fiona Bonar, Katie Cheyne)
3. = Cambridge, Oxford