UK Team Race Nationals - a student perspective
Last year saw Cambridge University take the Prince Phillip Trophy along with the title of UKTRA 2000 Champions. Shortly after they went on to overcome the other top universities of 2000, Southampton and Oxford, at the BUSA Finals.
The Southampton University 1st Team, again tipped as favourites for the BUSA title, were split up for this year's Finals. Dom Johnson, team captain, sailing with the GBR1 team, Owen Modral with the GBR2 team, and Simon Shaw the Spinnaker Exiles team. All three teams qualified for the semi-finals, with Spinnaker Exiles the eventual winners. These three Southampton students have to fancy their chances with their third and final attempt at the BUSA Title.
London University, BUSA 1999 Champions, are also proving themselves to be formidable opponents. London, captained by Mark Campbell-James, sailed well to finish 2nd in the Silver League over the weekend. However the more interesting race was during round one against the Southampton University 2nd Team.
London looked to have the advantage, however Southampton helm Dan Walker surprised two London boats at mark 3 to give the Southampton 2nds the advantage. The race was taken to the finish line, where a slip-up from Southampton saw the lead lost with only boat lengths remaining. As Southampton's captain, I could only look on with a sense of 'deja vu' as only three weeks before, the same situation had occurred at the London Duck.
The Southampton 2nds managed to overcome the psychological knock and qualify for the Gold League. Sailing well in their initial races in the Gold League the 2nds showed that they aren't the only Southampton Team to be aiming for the BUSA Championship Title.
Cambridge University, 2000 BUSA Champions and winners of the Oxford Magnum earlier this season, qualified for the Silver League. With a week of practice still to go, and the advantage of home waters, Cambridge look more than capable of defending their title.
Durham, the only other University at the UKTRA Finals and winners of the BUSA play-offs, showed potential. Having had fewer events to practice at than the southern Universities the Durham team has the odds against them. However their qualification for the Silver League shows that they will be challenging the southern University dominance for the BUSA Title.