Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Crowned Student Yachting World Cup Champions

J/80 Student Yachting World Cup sailors (La Baule - Le Pouliguen)- The Student Yachting World Cup (SYWoC) is an event organized every year in France by students for students. Created in 1979 under the name of Course de l'Europe, the cup was just meant for participants from Western Europe. But, as time went by, more and more Eastern European countries joined the cup. That's why the Course de l'Europe changed its name to become the SYWoC.

The regatta lasts one whole week in France and counts about 150 competitors, representing 15 countries from all around the world. During this week, the atmosphere is both sporting and multicultural. The first night, every team participates in the crews' dinner by bringing some dishes or some beverage representing their country. This way, the students have an opportunity to meet and discover other culture before the cup begins. Each night, students can also meet at the dinner room and have some nice time with the participants.

UK university sailors at Student Yachting World Cup in J/80sThe 35th SYWoC took place from October 13th to 20th.  This year, four UK University teams were entered and every boat had a Royal Southern Academy member onboard as skipper or crew. The Oxford University team was skippered by 19 year-old Lulu Wallis; Cambridge was sailed by Damien Arnol (25), and 21 year-old Annabel Vose is heading up the Southampton University team. Annabel is a 420 World and European Champion and successfully skippered a women's match racing team to win the University World Championship last summer. Academy members Jamie Diamond & Tom Harrison joined her. The University of Strathclyde's team captain is 22 year-old Peter Cameron.

The regatta is a test of patience, perseverance and conditioning.  Up to three races per day can be sailed and by the time the crews are into the fifth day of racing, the sheer mental and physical exercise can be exhausting to some crews.

A perfect example is what happened one-day before the last race.  The name of the final winner was still unknown, even though the Swiss team was the favorite of the competition. Yet, the ranking was could still change because the teams were so close on points.  Although the morning fog delayed the first race, the sun was present on the second part of the day and the wind was stronger than Saturday, around 15 knots with highs of twenty knots. Despite the strong wind, the program was the same as yesterday, with three inshore races and one coastal race.

J/80 sailboat- at Student Yachting World cupThe 12th race took place just before midday and saw Canada make a very good start. After the first buoy, they were far ahead of the other boats, followed by Switzerland and Southampton, the defender team. Far behind came the other crews led by Ireland, who managed to catch up on Southampton at the half of the race. Unfortunately for Ireland, they faced a problem with their spinnaker that cost them one place. This leading quartet led the remainder of the race, and Switzerland managed to overtake Canada just before the finish line. Southampton and Ireland finished third and fourth, far ahead of Cambridge, fifth at the finish.

The wind began increased up to twenty knots at the beginning of the second race. Despite a promising start for Cambridge, Ireland and Southampton took the lead of the race but were very close to each other, followed by Switzerland. Ireland lost two places but was still in competition for the win of this round. Canada had a good race, but suffered from a spinnaker problem and later was DSQ’d anyhow for an OCS. At the end of the race, the battle raged between Switzerland and Southampton, the latter finally managed to win the round.

J/80 Switzerland team- winners Student Yachting World CupThe third race was the last inshore one for the day. Once again, Switzerland, Southampton and Ireland immediately took control, but were very close to each other. However, Southampton managed to widen the gap with the Swiss boat for most of the race.  But, in a surprisingly smart strategic move, the Swiss caught them by the finish! Taking third was Japan, scoring their best result of the series!

The last race was the only coastal race of the day. Southampton was unbeatable from the start, followed by Ireland. Sadly for Oxford, their great start and 3rd at the first mark didn’t hold, dropping to 8th by the finish.

On the last day, the outcome was still in doubt even though the Swiss team from Lausanne was in a good position to win the title. The English team from Southampton could still catch them, especially since two inshore races were planned.

Due to much stronger winds than the previous few days, the crews were permitted to use the small spinnaker only.

J/80 sailboat- at Student Yachting World CupThe first race of the day produced a surprising outcome.  Having learned from earlier mistakes tactically and with regards to boatspeed, the Canadian team essentially started first and ran away from the fleet, posting one of the most emphatic wins of the entire regatta!  Finishing a distant second in the windy, full-on planing race was the Southampton team (hoping to defend their title) and in third were the Swiss.  Another surprise was the 4th place finish by the Japanese Kobe university team!

The University of Southampton won the last race with the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne behind them. Third were the Irish University College of Dublin crew, who can be proud of their performance this year.

At the closing ceremony the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique team were crowned World Student Champions with 27 pts. The trophy of the City of Le Pouliguen was given to University of Southampton for finishing 2nd overall just 3 pts back with 30 pts total.  Third was University College of Dublin with 45 pts, they also won the AGPM Trophy rewarding the crew who had the Best Performances on the Coastal Races.  Fourth was University of Cambridge from the United Kingdom with 59 pts.  Fifth was the Canadian Dalhousie University team sitting on 73 pts.  For more Student Yachting World Cup sailing information

The Student Yachting World Cup team in La Baule produced well-edited sailing videos, enjoy them here: