The University of Cape Town's (UCT) A team sailors outmanoeuvred their University of Pretoria (Tuks) opponents to take the win in this year's Intervarsity Keelboat Match Racing Regatta. The venue for the annual event, held earlier this month, was Durban's Point Yacht Club.
The final day of racing started with a three-hour wait for wind. Some perfect, tight match racing followed in a five-knot breeze with the UCT team claiming victory over Tuks after having narrowly beaten the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) with only a slightly better final-mark rounding.
UKZN and Rhodes tied for third place in an event that saw a high level of competitiveness from all the participants, which created an epic atmosphere, according to Sonja Stock, UCT's A team helm.
The round robin started on 7 July in less than ideal conditions, with a blustery 15-knot southeaster and overcast weather, but the Pool A races and half of pools B and C were completed.
Stock said the second day was warm and sunny with a gentle six-knot wind, allowing for the completion of all the pool races.
"In an attempt to work around the dismal wind forecast for the next two days it was decided that the finals would be in the form of a round robin, with the top teams from the pool stages going through: UCT A, Tuks, Rhodes and UKZN."
"The speed of the boats, high forces on the sails and the competitiveness made for intense, exciting racing."
Tuks commodore Jonathan Ham said that their race against UCT A was tight from the start. They had very few opportunities to pass and although they were able to block the UCT vessel when they did manage to pass them, they succumbed to the superior experience of the winning team.
"The speed of the boats, high forces on the sails and the competitiveness made for intense, exciting racing," he said.
Stock declared the event a major success, despite the sailors having to navigate sandbanks, confusion over some of the legalities, and "a lot of indecision about how exactly one rigs the jib sheets for an L26 J3 [keelboat]".
"It bore witness to growing levels of competitiveness in university match racing," she said.
Thirteen teams from five higher education institutions took part.