The inaugural Student Match Racing Invitational took place on the 1st – 2nd April in the National Yacht Club. The event brought 6 colleges from around the country together to compete in some very close and competitive match racing over the weekend.
Saturday brought a calm 10-15 kts with overcast skies along with a double round robin. TUD were leading on 8 points after a dominant performance, narrowly losing just two races on Saturday. UCD 1 and UCD 2 were tied on 6 points with UCD1 taking 2nd place on count back due to their two wins over UCD 2 in the round robin. QUB completed the top four teams going through to the next stage on Sunday on 5 points. While UL and MTU displayed some very competitive match racing, they were unfortunately the bottom two placed teams and did not make it to Stage 2.
Sunday morning brought a two hour postponement in order to wait for a sea breeze. Quarter finals took place in the form of a round robin between the remaining four teams, UCD 1 won every race in the quarter final round robin giving them the right to pick who they faced in a best of three semi-finals. UCD1 picked UCD2, with TUD facing QUB in the other Semi- FInal.
A close and competitive UCD semi-final saw UCD 1 win the first match. Tensions rose in the second match when UCD 1 did not enter on the correct side leading to UCD 2 protesting them causing UCD 1 to incur a penalty and UCD 2 going on to win the match. With UCD 1 back to the favoured starboard entry in the third match, the pre-start was close and both boats started even off the line and converged again at the windward mark, remaining close on the downwind and rounding the leeward gate at the same time.
Ultimately it came down to one mistake from UCD 1, as going left on the upwind proved to be unfavourable. With UCD 2 going to the favourable right side, UCD 2 came around the windward mark several seconds ahead of UCD 1. UCD 2 went on to win the match, and win their semi final.
QUB faced TUD in the other semi final, with tight racing throughout the pre-start and the race leader changing several times each race. Queen’s University Belfast beat TUD in the first two matches of the semi-finals, securing their place in the finals against UCD 2 QUB proved to be a worthy adversary to UCD 2, and certainly not one to be underestimated.
Ultimately it came down to who would lead back to the start line first in the pre-start in the light conditions, with UCD 2 being successful in the first match and going on to win the match. QUB
manoeuvred themselves in order for them to be the first to turn back to the start line, allowing them to go on to win the second match. In match three UCD 2 were able to best QUB once again, match point. In match four UCD 2 started in a favourable position tight to leeward of QUB, forcing them to tack off to the lighter right side of the course. This proved to be decisive with UCD 2 remaining narrowly ahead of QUB for the remainder of the race and ultimately going on to win the race and the event.
An event like this would not be possible without the volunteers that give up their time to allow this event to be a success. A huge thank you to race officer Tadgh Donnelly along with his team: Peter Sherry, Rosemary Cadogan and Mary Gorman.
Likewise match racing would not be possible without an umpire team, thank you to Ailbe Millerick, Gordon Davies and Dan Little as well as all who helped them throughout the weekend.
Congratulations to the winning skipper Loghlen Rickard, along with crew Oisin Cullen and Kate O’Connor.