With full days of sailing on the Saturday and Sunday, and a first event win of the 2022/23 season for Cambridge Blue, the Bristol Brew was close to the perfect weekend. The round robin stage saw a lot of close racing and narrow victories, including Oxford, Cardiff, Exeter seconds and two Bath teams; alumni teams Cindies Sailing Club, Leamington Lemmings and UWE Ping Pong. An almost clean sweep was marred only by a 4,5,6 defeat to Rutland Raiders after a poor start by Cambridge.
The most exciting action of the weekend was reserved for the knockout rounds. Cambridge finished the round robin on Sunday afternoon joint top with Exeter (out of 18 teams). In the quarter final, Cambridge Blue faced the most recent Cambridge alumni team, the formidable “During Dinner Mints”, who had defeated Cambridge Blue at the Oxford Magnum earlier that year. An extremely tense race during the round robin (reduced to two-boat team racing due to a breakage) had seen heroics from Tom Hebbert (Cambridge alumnus subbing in) and Claudia Bazyk. Cambridge came back from a 3,4 on the last beat, to secure a very close 2,3 on the line. The semi-final was also fairly close. After winning the first race comfortably, Cambridge were then beaten, and taken to a third race. This was, however, secured with a comfortable 1,2,5 from mark 1 until the finish, to give Cambridge a 2-1 win.
The Exeter first team had defeated Southampton 2-0 in the other semi-final, and were now the immovable object blocking our golden road to that elusive first event victory. The final started poorly for Cambridge, as Exeter easily won the start and first beat, leading with a 1,2 on the run. Some good covering got us back into a 2,4,5, but Exeter swept up nicely to put us away and give themselves a 1,2 and a 1-0 lead in the tie. The second race was similar, and again Exeter came onto the final beat with a 1,2,5. All seemed lost, with even the umpires starting to return to shore, but Adam Rathmell & Charlotte McConnell managed to get level with the Exeter boat in second, and some desperate manoeuvres slowed them down enough to get Ewan Gribbin & Hannah Cox back into the race. Meanwhile, Tom & Claudia had again shown excellent upwind speed to sail through their pair and take 5. The race was suddenly back on. Exeter sailor Cossie Lewis had already finished in a comfortable first place, so could only look on, powerless, as Ewan & Rosie aggressively dialled the hapless second Exeter boat to let Tom & Claudia through into a winning 2,3,4: secured by inches on the line. Exeter had had more than one hand on the trophy, they were unfortunate not to have already won. But now they had to contest a winner-takes-all final race. This was the most one-sided of the final, as Ewan & Rosie won the pin, to take 1 around the windward mark, slowing the Exeter boat in second to allow Adam & Charlotte into second place. Tom and Claudia were able to win a pair to give Cambridge a comfortable, if not entirely stress free 1,2,5. This they held until the finish, leaving Cambridge Blue overall winners.