All About Cambridge Team Racing In Dinghies
Are You Competitive?
If you’re starting your studies this October and want to take part in Cambridge team racing in dinghies, this is the CUCrC section you’re looking for! This page should give you a taste of what the Blues sailing teams do and tell you all about Cambridge team racing. The Team Racing Section also provides the University’s Match Racing teams.
UK University Team Racing
Most organised university sailing in the UK is team racing. A team race involves two teams of three boats. The winning team is that with the best combined position across the finish line (add up the positions and 10 or less wins the race). Team race courses are small, meaning that each race lasts just 6 to 12 minutes. All of this amounts to an extremely exciting and tactical form of racing. At an event, there will generally be 8 to 24 teams entered, with an initial round robin followed by a knock-out stage.
Find out more by viewing the Wikipedia article on team racing. Also read the excellent book ‘Team Racing Companion’ (ISBN 978-1-909911-11-6) by Chris Atkins – a Blue in all his 3 years and captain of the victorious 1977 varsity team.
Team Racing Boats
Currently, the boat of choice for team racing in the UK is the Firefly. These are 12ft two-man fibreglass dinghies that are highly manoeuvrable. This makes them excellent for tactical team racing moves – obstructing the opposition to let your team mates through. Fireflies are also easily handled and crewed by ladies. CUCrC has two relatively new flights of Fireflies, making our facilities amongst the best in the country.
Cambridge Teams and Training
Cambridge usually fields three or four mixed teams each year. A ladies team competes in the UK/BUSA Ladies Nationals and the Varsity Match. We train in our Fireflies at Grafham Water several times a week, normally at weekends but sometimes on a Wednesday. We head off every couple of weeks to events at universities and sailing clubs all over the country. So there are plenty of people around who can tell you all about Cambridge team racing!
Competitions We Enter
Team racing is a Blues sport and Cambridge teams enter the country’s most prestigious events, including BUSA (the British University Sailing Association Team Racing Championships), UKTRA (the UK Open Team Racing Championships), and the Wilson Trophy (the unofficial World Team Racing Championships) – as well as contesting the annual Varsity Match, of course.
All About Cambridge Team Racing – Activity Details
Have a Go!
Team racing is concentrated in the first two terms of each year, leaving the Easter Term free for exams and more relaxed sailing. If you would like to trial for one of the teams (second weekend of the Michaelmas Term), then come and visit our stand at the Fresher’s Fair in October. Or use the form in the Get In Touch page to express your interest. Don’t worry if you haven’t done any team racing before. This is the case for many of the people joining the sailing team. Although most people have prior experience of fleet racing, this isn’t always the case either!
Cambridge teams have always been amongst the best university teams in the country. We win BUSA regularly (2014, 2015, 2016) and rarely fail to reach the quarter-finals. Cambridge teams finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th in the 2017 BUSA – a performance never equalled by any other university – and finished 2nd again in 2018 and 2019. Only the record of the legendary team of 1999-2000, which won both BUSA and the UKTRA National Championships in 2000, remains to be challenged. Cambridge Ladies came 2nd at their BUSA in 2017, 3rd in 2018, and 2nd overall in the parallel National/BUSA championships of 2019. So many UK universities know all about Cambridge team racing!
Cambridge hosts an annual team racing event, the Cam Cup, during the Lent Term (usually early March). Entries are by invitation only – to the best alumni and university teams in the country.
The annual Varsity Match against Oxford is sailed in three-man keel boats, at a different coastal venue each year. Recent hosts include Aldeburgh YC, Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, Itchenor SC, Royal Southern YC, Strangford Lough YC (N Ireland), and the Royal Yacht Squadron.
Eligibility and Trials
Any member of the University (undergraduate or graduate who has been studying for 8 years or less since leaving school) is welcome to trial for one of the teams. However, it is important that you are able to keep weekends and Wednesday afternoons free for training. (Please note that lectures are optional and practicals and supervisions can always be rearranged. In any case, there is definitely time to sail and do your degree to a high standard!) Trials take place during the second weekend of the Michaelmas term.
Other Team Racing
If you’re already at Cambridge and would like to team race, but have missed the trials, then you can get a taste of the sport by entering Cuppers. This legendary inter-college two-boat team racing competition and BBQ takes place on the Tuesday of May Week. Use the form in the Get In Touch page to express your interest.
What it Costs
Team racers contribute on a cost basis per event and must also be members of CUCrC. The good news is that there are no contributions for boat maintenance. Your membership also entitles you to participate in all the activities of the Dinghy Sailing, Windsurfing, and Kitesurfing sections! An ‘event’ weekend costs around £20 in travel, £50 in entry fees, plus food and booze. A training session at Grafham costs about £5 for travel.
While all these costs can add up over a season, bursaries are offered by the colleges, University, and Club that make team racing at Cambridge more than affordable. The Club aims to refund a proportion of the entry fees that team racers incur during the year, and there is a small Hardship Fund for special cases of difficulty. As well as being highly competitive, the Sailing Team also has lot of fun in Cambridge and at the various events in which we compete! To join the Club, just sign up on the Join The Club page.