On the 17th-18th of February, Imperial College Sailing Club hosted the Imperial Icicle, now in its second year. Spread across two days and hosted at Wembley Sailing Club on Welsh Harp Reservoir, the event boasted 135 races, two massive socials and fantastic catering by Imperial’s French and Swiss chefs. The Icicle had a total of 18 teams and even gained international recognition with teams flying in from outside the UK.
The weekend started on Friday night: after the teams had met with their hosts, they headed to Wetherspoons to begin pre-drinking for the house party boldly hosted by one of Imperial’s Social Secretaries. The over 100-person strong party proved a resounding success, with teams thoroughly enjoying themselves and staying until the early hours.
Sadly, for the Imperial sailors there was little chance to sleep with most having to get up at 5:30 AM to start preparations for the day ahead. The first capsize of the day came early with our Bosun, James McLeod, taking a refreshing dip next to the pontoon before sails had even been hoisted. Despite this, and with remarkable efficiency for sleep deprived students, all the boats were rigged, ready and out on the water as the first teams trickled in. All this hard work was rewarded with a bacon butty, but sadly no sign of wind.
After the briefing delivered by our Race Officer and former Commodore, Joe Burgin, the teams sat down for what they thought was going to be long wait. However, barely an hour afterwards, Joe decided it was time to launch and that the wind was coming in. Despite accusations that he was being a fool by the rest of the race committee, we went ahead as planned. Sure enough, as the first boat launched off the pontoon, a fair breeze was beginning to make its way across the reservoir.
Once the teams were on the water, the start boat jumped straight into sequence with almost continuous rolling starts. No mercy was given to any team that had fallen asleep and did not turn up to their boats, a move jokingly commented on by Bruce, one of our umpires, as “brutal”. Mercy was not shown by the umpires either who doled out spins to anyone breaking rule 42 in the light winds. Unfortunately, the day was not without its challenges, with the wind coming and going and regular 90˚ shifts. Overall, after a long day of racing, an astounding 60 races were completed with Edinburgh Blue and Oxford Blue coming out on top but with many races left to sail.
“The curry came to an abrupt end when an electrical fire resulted in a rapid evacuation”
Once everyone was warm and dry, they headed back to their hosts’ to prepare for the night ahead. With everyone in their Disney costumes, the sailors ventured to Drummond Street for a traditional BYOB curry. With over 100 in a private room, the social got off to a fantastic start even if many freshers were left without cutlery. Unfortunately, the curry came to an abrupt end when an electrical fire on the top floor resulted in a rapid evacuation and fire engines called to the scene. We arrived earlier than planned at the club, but the night eventually picked up and many a drunk sailor showed off their enthusiastic moves on the dance floor.
Much to the dismay of Imperial’s freshers it was another early start, once again getting up at 5:30 AM to rig and launch all the boats. Despite everyone being hungover, due to the leadership of our Event Organiser and Commodore, Krystal Law, the boats were again prepared for the arrival of the teams. After only a short postponement, the wind filled in and racing commenced. The first and only boat breakage of the weekend happened early in the day as one of the shackles came undone on the jib.
Thankfully this happened whilst still in the start sequence and the boat was fixed by our fantastic umpires in minutes. The wind, although more consistent than on Saturday, still proved shifty as expected on the Harp. This did not stop the race committee squeezing in another 30 races, giving every team 10 races each before moving into leagues.
The teams were split into Gold, Silver and Bronze based on their round robin performance. This saw some excellent team racing with some very evenly matched teams fighting it out. Our race officer made the call to power through all 45 races before the end of the day. Sadly, due to lack of time, we were not able to go into finals. Fortunately, there was still a clear winner at the end of the day. with N.W.A (New Wessex Alumni, basically Southampton Uni’s alumni team). going undefeated in Gold league.
The day came to an end with the winning teams and umpires being rewarded with a healthy quantity of alcohol and N.W.A., the winners, a “beautiful” laser cut trophy crafted in the Imperial workshops. After a long weekend, everyone went home with smiles on their faces for a well-deserved night’s sleep. Overall, the event ran smoothly with N.W.A coming in first place in Gold, Edinburgh Blue in second and Oxford Blue in third and a total of 135 races sailed, in very challenging conditions. Special thanks must be given to all the umpires (Ed Fryer, Bruce Hebbert, Ruth Owen, Bill Wyatt, Paul Robson, Andrew Wishart, Tim Palmer, Enrica Mameli) who gave up their weekend for the event. Also, all of the team at Imperial, especially Joe Burgin (Race Officer), Krystal Law (Event Organiser) and James McLeod (Bosun) who helped ensure the weekend went off without a hitch.