Yachting Australia Corporate Partner
First Australian University Regatta for ten years a great success
From the 15th to the 17th of April nine universities represented by over 60 sailors came to Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour, for the first Australian University Regatta for almost 10 years. The regatta was made up of seven races over the three days, with each dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weather very different to the previous one. The event marks the re-birth of Australian university sailing which has been dramatically affected by the VSU legislation introduced in 2005.
On the first day a stiff north-westerly reached as much as 30 knots giving the 40 boat fleet much to contend with. Being a yardstick event, the fleet was made up of many classes of dinghies. The original university classes of Lasers and Tasars were the strongest classes but there were also 29ers, 49ers, NS14 and NACRA 5.0 classes for variety. Unfortunately the windsurfing division did not draw many entries leaving a lone One Design board to battle it out.
After the first day's racing, the majority of the competitors made their way to Cockatoo Island just west of the Harbour Bridge, which provided accommodation for the interstate travellers as well as everyone else up for the experience. Camping on Cockatoo Island provides a unique solution to accommodation and some of the best views of the city.
Light air in the morning of the second day's racing resulted in the start being delayed until the north-easterly sea breeze kicked in. Three races were listed for the day which meant courses were kept shorter. The final race of the day brought all three divisions together for a single start which provided some excitement and amusement when the Pacer and 16ft skiff lined up on the start line.
Thursday night was the highlight of the social side of the three days with the 'Good Time Cruises' harbour cruise boat picking up all the competitors and a whole host of other skimpily dressed sailors from Rose bay. Every aspect of the regatta took place on Sydney's beautiful harbour.
Friday was the last day of racing which once again brought different wind conditions from the south. Racing, as on all days, was competitive and close at the front of the fleet which made final results hard to call. Jye Murray from MQ in a laser, took out the monohull single sail division closely followed by Andrew Turnbull from QUT in an Impulse. In the spinnaker/multi hull division the 29ers and 49ers were very competitive but (on yardstick) the 16ft skiff was on top helmed by James Ward and crewed by Alexandra Ward and Adam Minter from Wollongong Uni. The over all yardstick result went to Hugh Tait and Tegan Ryan from UTS, in a NS14, who sailed an almost perfect regatta.
Special thanks must go the Sponsors, Zhik, Bethwaite and the Co-op Bookshop who made it possible for such an event to be held after such a long absence. Woollahra Sailing Club must also be thanked for their regatta management and for providing a fitting venue for a unique event.
The regatta also provided an important opportunity to discuss the future of university sailing and the future of any events. The event was hosted by the Sydney University Sailing Club which now stands as the last remaining university sailing club in NSW. Competitors from a number of other NSW universities have shown strong interest in working with their universities to re-establish clubs in their universities which can compete at future events. The number of active clubs after the 2005 VSU legislation is actually very low. The clubs that were able to make it were ANU and QUT. QUTs participation was dependent on their access to trailers for the transportation of their boats from Brisbane. Special thanks must there for go to the Queensland Impulse Association who allowed the use of their trailer. The ANU Sailing Club has probably been the most consistent of the university sailing clubs since the introduction of VSU. While the club has faced significant challenges the club still remains strong.
To continue the development of Australian University Sailing, a Teams Racing event will be hosted by ANU later in the year. This event will take place in Tasar Dinghies which, after much consideration, will remain as a university class for the future.
Australian University Sailing may have experienced a bit of a decline but now it is very much on the rebound. Australia has a history of producing some amazing sailors which means there is no excuse for struggling university clubs. University Sailing in the US and Europe carries respect, as it once did in Australian more than a decade ago, so there is no reason why it cant be restored to its former glory.
If you would like to read more about Australian University Sailing or the Sydney Uni Sailing Club go to http://www.usydsailing.com
Bernie Case who was the Skipper of the Melbourne University Crew 1963 writes ' Yhe original class was Light Weight Sharpies. The original Intervarsity Regatta was held in the mid1960's and was hosted by Adelaide University at Glenelg.
Male crews represented Adelaide,Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, & Monash Universities, & female crews from, Adelaide, Melbourne & Queensland Universities.