Team Racing - Background Information

(The Club's Team Racer's operate a Twitter Account)

Are You Competitive?

If you're starting at Cambridge this October and would like to get involved with competitive dinghy team racing then this is the CUCrC section you're looking for! This page should give you a taste of what the Blues sailing team does and how you can get involved when you come up to Cambridge. 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. For those who have not already come across this form of 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). 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, usually with an initial round robin followed by a knock-out stage. There is a good Wikipedia article on team racing if you want to find out more, as well as an 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.

Photo of Cambridge gybing
Cambridge prepare to gybe at BUSA - with Southampton well trapped outside them

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, with a third available from Kimbolton School, making our facilities amongst the best in the country.

Cambridge Teams and Training

Cambridge usually fields three or four mixed teams each year, and 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, and head off every couple of weeks to events at universities and sailing clubs all over the country.

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.

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 - apart from participation in the Wilson Trophy. 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 this online form 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, and although most people have prior experience of fleet racing, this isn't always the case either!

Photo of Cam Cup race
Cam Cup team race in progress at Grafham

Cambridge Successes

Cambridge teams have always been amongst the best university teams in the country, winning BUSA regularly and rarely failing to reach at least the quarter-finals in recent years. Cambridge teams finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th in the 2017 BUSA - a performance never equalled by any other university. Only the record of the legendary team of 1999-2000, which won BUSA and the UKTRA National Championships in 2000, remains to be challenged. Cambridge Ladies came 2nd at their BUSA in 2017, 3rd nationally.

Cambridge Competitions

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 Royal Lymington YC, Itchenor SC, Hayling Island SC, the Island SC, Royal London YC, and Royal Southern YC.

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, although it is important that you are able to keep weekends and Wednesday afternoons free for training. Trials take place during the second weekend of the Michaelmas term. (Prospective sailors: 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!).

Photo of Cambridge Ladies
Cambridge in action at the RYA/BUSA Ladies Nationals

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 this online form 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, and your membership also entitles you to participate in all the activities of the Dinghy Sailing and Windsurfing 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 and University that make team racing at Cambridge more than affordable. 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 our membership management website.