In December Imperial Sailing Club ventured into the land of sheep and dragons for their first away event of the year- The Welsh Dragon. With two days of sailing and a sheep themed social the event hosted by Cardiff University was set to be a good one.
Day one saw a frankly abysmal performance from the 3 boat Imperial team in the mini-league. In their first race, against Portsmouth Firsts, Imperial got 4th 5th and 6th, giving Portsmouth 1st 2nd and 3rd. Imperial’s second race, against Exeter Ladies, wasn’t much better. Imperial had a fighting chance until the second mark when Gavin MacAulay got a penalty turn from trying a risky overtake then crashing into an Exeter boat. Chris O’Donnell was forced the wrong side of the mark, trying to push his way into a gap that was too small and which he had no right to be in, leaving Fiona Wall to battle all three Exeter boats by herself. This ended up with Imperial getting another 4th 5th 6th.
The second lot of the days racing was marginally better, but still unsuccessful, with Imperial getting a 3rd 4th 6th against Swansea in a race which was closely fought to the end. The last race of the day was against the hosts- Cardiff. The Imperial team fought hard, but a mark trap from Cardiff at the last mark put the hosts in 1st 2nd 3rd – a wining position and so stealing the race from Imperial. In Imperial’s defence three of the teams they raced got through to the semi-finals, and Portsmouth won the league.
Day two brought much more wind and with it, a fresh chance for Imperial with a King Of The Hill competition- a royal rumble style competition where the worst placing teams from the league start off at the bottom and fight their way to the top. Lose one race and you’re out. In a major (non-Imperial related) incident on the first day, one of the boats was damaged and put out of use. In the interest of fairness it was decided that racing would just be 2 v. 2.
Miraculously, Imperial didn’t start off at the very bottom of the Hill, that honour went to UWE and Bristol Fourths. Bristol walked over their opponents getting 1st and 2nd, knocking UWE out of the competition. Imperial then raced Bristol and in turn, Bristol were crushed, giving Imperial 1st 2nd and putting them ahead of two teams- Bristol and UWE. Imperial continued in this manner, beating anyone who came their way with a 1st 2nd.
Imperial’s luck started to turn when they came against Brunel. Chris O’Donnell got off to a very poor start -only just crossing the line when the other boats were reaching the first mark, and with Gavin MacAulay in 2nd things were looking bleak. On the downwind leg Gavin sped into first and put himself in a perfect position to mark-trap the two Brunel boats. Gavin cut across the path of the Brunel boats, shouting wildly, forcing them to keep out of his path. In the confusion the two Brunel boats crashed, taking each other out of the race allowing Chris to sail past, giving Imperial another 1st 2nd. Remarkably, after this race Chris realised he’d been racing all day in a boat with two holes in it, requiring a change over before the next race…
Imperial’s final race of the day was against Portsmouth Seconds. In a closely fought race Portsmouth dominated on the final leg and won with a 1st 2nd, knocking Imperial out of the competition and going on to win the whole King Of The Hill. Overall, Imperial got to the middle of the Hill.