Photo: Nigel Vick

Match racing resumes on Queen Mary

Ian Williams on top at FISU Selection/RYA National Match Racing Qualifier 1

Monday February 17th 2014, Author: Matt Carter, Location: United Kingdom

A variety of match racing teams from universities across the UK turned out along with well-known youth skipper Mark Lees and quadruple world match racing champion Ian Williams for the FISU Selection/RYA National Match Racing Qualifier 1 event at Queen Mary Sailing Club, Staines, this weekend.

The opening event of the RYA National Match Racing Series for 2014 was sailed in the Royal Thames Yacht Club’s fleet of J/80s and formed the Open Selection event for GBR teams wishing to be selected for the FISU World University Match Racing Championships set to take place in Trentino, Italy from the 29 June–5 July.

The opening day of the regatta was blown off with the most recent bout of extreme weather the UK has been hit with. The Selection panel for the British entry to the FISU match racing championships held interviews for teams wishing to represent GBR on Saturday in lieu of sailing while all qualifying teams took part in a rules theory test run by the umpire team.

Chief Umpire Chris Simon and his team were then on hand to run through a number of common match racing scenarios which was well received by the aspiring young keelboat sailors. Nigel King, RYA Racing Keelboat Manager, who had input into the session, added: “In all these scenarios, from a sailors perspective it is crucial to consider the risks and rewards when using the umpires to dictate your fate in match racing. It is also critical to your success as a match racer that you have a strong handle of the Racing Rules of Sailing and you can be confident that the call will go your way before using the umpires.”

Sunday kicked off to a great start with steady winds of 10-13 knots and glorious sunshine which was welcomed by all on the water. The early stage of the round robin saw successive wins for the top ranked teams Ian Williams and Mark Lees who demonstrated their match racing pedigree with clean wins, with some of the less experienced teams quickly taking on the theory from Saturday and improving match by match on both their straight line speed and their match racing skills.

Williams, who only narrowly missed out on an unprecedented fifth World crown in 2013, was at the event with the main aim of sharing his skills, experience and knowledge with his two new crew members for this event; the British Keelboat Academy’s (BKA) Will Semkin and Piers Hugh-Smith.

As the sun started to go down in the afternoon the winds became shifty and fickle, Principal Race Officer David Wilkins was quick to respond and after a short delay racing continued with 10 flights of the round robin being completed. After which one university stood out, Nick Wilkinson and his team from Bristol University losing only to the non-Student teams of Lees and Williams.

There were also some strong rivalries within the same university with the three teams from Southampton having close matches with place changes throughout the matches concluding with Annabel Vose beating her rivals followed by Will Goldsmith and Tom Harrison.

David Campbell-James, RYA Match Racing Chairman, commented: “It was fantastic to see a variety of teams present from aspiring match racers of the future to the well-established sailors which made for some fierce competition from all. The RYA and BUSA are working hard to promote and rejuvenate match racing in the UK and this event was a promising measure of the efforts so far.

“A big thank you must to go to Ian Williams for taking the time to come and compete against the wealth of University teams and to support the British Keelboat Academy. We hope to see many of the same teams competing in the RYA Winter Match Racing events in the coming weeks.”

Team GBR selection for the FISU World University Match Racing Championships 2014 will be announced shortly on the RYA website.

FISU Selection/RYA National Match Racing Qualifier 1 final results:

1: Ian Williams; Jerry Mitchell, Will Semkin, Piers Hugh-Smith.
2: Mark Lees; James French, Robbie Southwell, James Anderson.
3: Nick Wilkinson; Robbie Hooper, Fred Brown, Fergus Barnham.
4: Bruno Van Dyke; Tom Lovesey, Andy Lis, Edward Roberts.
5: Annabel Vose; Amy Prime, Alice Butler, Kate Devereux, Hannah Peters.
6: Will Goldsmith; Emily Nagel, Nick Robson, Hannah Tilly.
7: Tom Harrison; Jamie Diamond, Jonty Cook, Oisin McClelland.
8: Connor Miller; Mike Matthews, Declan Rohr, Dan Stokes.
9: Andrew Wishart; Joe Stansfield, Alex Frankling, Joe Simmons.

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