On the weekend just gone our affiliate club, the University of Manchester, hosted the Northern British University Sailing Association qualifiers.
The forecast looked iffy from the outset and as the week progressed we wondered if it might be a weekend of six nations rather than sailing!
On Saturday, 18 university clubs arrived to Richard Cornah’s sausage butties and gusts of 40+ knots. A few intrepid universities went for a walk around the marine lake whilst the rest of the organising committee and volunteers stared at the water, willing the wind to allow even an hour of racing. Unfortunately after a delicious lunch, served by Helen Brown and a team of Manchester volunteers, the decision was made to can racing for the day as the breeze showed no sign of letting up.
With pressure on to get through sufficient races and produce a fair result the race committee decided to attempt a feat never yet seen on the university team racing circuit…. A sunrise start with the first warning signal at 7.57am!
The Northern universities rose to the challenge with unrivaled enthusiasm. The Manchester volunteers suffered a heroic 6am wake up in order to get boats rigged and on the slip by 7.40am. Andy Hilyard, Pete Johansen and Alex Jones assembled to provide a start boat, finish boat and umpire ribs all afloat by 7.30am. The umpires were forced to wolf down their delicious sausage butties and the first race was underway by 8am (give or take 3 minutes!).
Once racing was in sequence there was no stopping the army of Manchester volunteers who kept the starts rolling and tea & coffee on tap. Never before have umpire boats been served their next coffee before the first one went cold! Credit must go to the Manchester starters and finishers who flagged and whistled with endless fervour, Megan Marley who hustled all of the volunteers and put people in the right place at the right time, Imogen Hussey who recorded results, Philip Aldhous (beachmaster) who corralled teams to keep changeovers slick, and all of the shoreside and galley volunteers! Special mention must also go to our visiting PRO, Robyn Fitzgerald, who inexplicably summoned the weather gods to keep the winds at bay and full rigs on until gone 2pm.
Sailing from dawn until literal dusk, we managed to squeeze in a total of 121 races- an absolute accolade to all who were involved!
Thank you to the West Kirby volunteers who supported Manchester in their roles on start boat and finish boat, Richard Cornah & the Hartleys who kept the course perfect all day as the breeze clocked round, Adam Whittle who provided race document support, Kay Eggleton managing damage, and all of the umpires.
Last but not least a huge congratulations to Olivia Southall, UMSC Club Captain, who managed to simultaneously Event Direct for Manchester University and compete in the event to qualify for BUSA finals!
The full results are now available on the BUSA facebook page. Out of our affiliate universities Manchester 1st team have qualified to finals directly and Lancaster University & Liverpool 1st team are in 1st and 2nd reserve places respectively.