Andrew Clarke details a victory which showcases the talent of the hard working athletes behind a proud day for the University of Southampton. The 34th Student Yachting World Cup went the way of the south coast outfit who have become the first students from this university to win the competition.
Last week saw Southampton 1st’s take victory at the Student World Yachting Championships. The teams for this prestigious student-run event, which took place in La Rochelle in Northern France, are picked from national championships which occur in each of the 11 participating countries in April time. In Britain, this national event is known as the BUSA (British University Sailing Association) Yachting National Championship, which Southampton won by a clear eleven point lead, allowing them to go on and represent Britain at the world championships. Southampton’s 2s and 3s also managed to get a 3rd and 5th.
The original winning team from the nationals was made up of eight, however only seven were able to make it to France, since Richard Burrows had other commitments. The consisted of Conrad Manning (fourth-year Ship Science), Anabel Vose (second-year Ship Science), Dan Flanigan (MSC Ship Science graduate), George Johnson (fourth-year Ship Science), Jonty Cook (Economics graduate), Richard Burrows (Ship Science graduate), Kate Devereux (second-year Ship Science) and Jamie Diamond (second-year Ship Science). During the week the team won an impressive nine out of twelve races. Italy came in 2nd 46 points behind and Norway was 3rd with 47 points behind. France, who are well known for their good yachting background came 8th. I caught up with Jamie Diamond after he got back to find out more about the event.
What does it feel like to have won?
It feels awesome to have won the event
What were the conditions like on the water ?
We had a range of condition throughout the week, from days with large breaks waiting for the wind to fill in and days with too much [wind], so we had to head in early and. cancel racing for the day.
What were the boats like to sail?
The Grand Surprise was a great boat to sail, really responding well to small changes and tweaks. But also all the boats were identically matched, meaning the skill came down to the sailing rather than the boats.
You seemed to win the event easily with almost straight 1sts, what were the other teams like to sail against?
The racing was really close, we aimed to start each race in a strong position and climb through the fleet. We managed to stick to the plan, but frequently had close battles with other teams. Unfortunately for the other teams they didn’t manage the same consistency in their score line.
What was the social side of the event like?
SYWoC [Student Yachting World Cup] has a great social side, every evening there was something planned, for example a beer pong tournament. With all the competitors staying together and eating together each night there was a great atmosphere throughout the week.
Final question, what was your favourite moment from the week?
It’s really hard to pick a favourite moment after such a great week. I think for me it would have to be calculating whether we had won with a day to spare. Never have I had so much doubt in my maths, after telling the team it felt great.
Overall the team worked hard and managed to come away with a great success not just for Southampton, but for this country. In a time when the French are having more competition in the yachting world from up-and-coming English sailors, this just is the tip of the iceberg. This result cements Southampton Uni’s grip on the yachting scene compared to the 13 other universities who were at the student nationals this year. However, whether this is due to the proximity of the Solent and some of the best yachting in the country, or the talent that comes through our university’s sailing scene in general, is up for debate.