Edinburgh sailors storm to landmark Lemming crown

On the weekend of the 6th and 7th of December, Edinburgh Sailing Club’s ‘A’ team travelled down the Loughborough Lemming at Burton Sailing Club. This is a selective event that has a high standard of team racing competition from all over the UK, and even Ireland.

Despite early frost on the first morning, the moderate breeze meant conditions were ideal for team racing. Edinburgh’s first race got off to a good start with a 1-2 finish against Nottingham. Our second race against Exeter had a messy beginning with two Exeter and two Edinburgh boats over the start line. By sailing faster and having smoother tacks, Edinburgh managed to catch up and take the 1-2. After lunch, Edinburgh then went on to win two further races also in 1-2 combinations against Oxford and a solid 1-2-3 against Birmingham.

The wind dropped off for the final race of the day against Trinity, but Edinburgh, fortunately being a lighter team, held their boat speed to take the 1-2 again. 100 per cent race wins for the first day, tying with Southampton Red and Pink at the top of the league overnight.

After completing all the scheduled races from the day before, we were put straight into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets. Conditions had worsened from the previous day, averaging between 10-15 knots with some very strong gusts bursting through at 25 later in the afternoon.

Our first race in the Gold fleet was against Birmingham 1sts. This was a great start to the day for Edinburgh as we controlled the off and took control of proceedings, resulting in a winning 1-2 combination. In race two, Swansea gave Edinburgh a good fight at the start. Their pre-start routine was more aggressive than other teams and for the first time this weekend Edinburgh were defending rather than attacking. It was testing competition, however we still managed to have a good start and finish with a 1-2. In the next race, Trinity and Southampton Red proved to be anything but pushovers. We won with a close 2-3-5 against Trinity, but lost against Southampton Red. A simple time and distance error from the Edinburgh team effectively gave them the win from the start.

The last race of the gold fleet against Southampton Pink did not begin with a confident start. We were in an unstable 2-3-5 coming up to the first mark. However, due to Southampton breaking a rule, their number one was made to do spins by the Jury which set that boat back into 6th whilst Edinburgh took the 1-2-4. With a strong combination it looked like a very easy win, however disaster struck and Edinburgh dropped their tiller (for steering) causing the race to the finish line to be nerve-wrackingly tight. Luckily Edinburgh succeeded with a 1-3 combination.

Our Quarter Finals were against Birmingham 2nds, and it was not an easy race. A terrible and mistimed start from all of the teams, and one opposition boat over the start line, caused them to return and take 6th. On the second leg, Edinburgh were in a 2-3-4 formation.

The Birmingham boat in 1st had a tough job trying to slow us down and compress so his teammates in 5th and 6th could catch up. Consequently, Edinburgh split up and sailed past them to take the 1-2. However, the last leg of the race was not plain sailing. One Birmingham boat sailed faster, caught up, and had Edinburgh on Starboard towards the finish line. Fortunately a clean but extremely close tack meant we squeezed into 2nd, resulting in another 1-2 win to take us to the semi-finals.

Our semi-finals were against Trinity, a team we had already sailed against twice before. The wind had increased significantly and the gusts were shifting heavily causing this start line to be difficult and quite unpredictable. One huge lesson we always tell ourselves: ‘never gybe on a windy day during the starting sequence.’ Trinity showed us why, because they very nearly capsized two minutes before the start, and fortunately for us they filled up with water.

This meant that boat would be very slow and they spent the next two minutes bailing water out of their boat rather than sailing fast. There was a last minute shift causing everyone to struggle towards the line apart from one lucky Edinburgh sailor that was early and consequently managed to have a perfect port flyer start.

Another Edinburgh boat slowed down a Trinity boat to let our other boat get clear air and take 2nd. So with a clear 1-2, the other Edinburgh became ‘captain chaos’ and used the rules and sailing manoeuvres to slow down the three other Trinity boats so Edinburgh could have a clear 1-2-3 victory.

To our surprise, the finals were not against Southampton Red (the team we had previously lost to) it was against their 2nds, Southampton Pink, who had previously knocked out their 1sts in the semis. This race again began with a difficult start. The wind shifted again making it even more difficult to get through the start line on starboard. One Edinburgh boat was made to do penalty turns. The choice was either to make the other Edinburgh boat tack and both have a terrible start, or duck them to allow them to take 1st, and risk an incident with a Southampton boat. So the latter decision proved a better choice, we had the 1st, but also the 6th.

The third Edinburgh boat was subject to penalty turns so decided to hold out a Southampton boat for as long as possible until the penalties were finished and they had caught up to take the 4th, converting to a winning combination of 1-4-5.

However, it was not over yet. The two Southampton boats in 2nd and 3rd were pushing the Edinburgh 1st boat very hard. If they had worked together or split on the 3rd leg they could have stolen first, however they did not, and therefore did not manage to overtake.

On the 2nd to last leg, one of their boats realised they would not be able to catch us, so they turned around to attack back at our Edinburgh boat in 4th. However, they were unsuccessful and Edinburgh took the 1-3 and victoriously won the competition.

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