The eighth edition of the SWSYC Academy Cup was once again blessed with sunshine in Poole Harbour as the Academicians took to the water in J24s to do battle.
A burger washed down with a few pints on Ringwood’s finest was the preparation of choice before the teams took to the water under the direction of Race Officer Jane Montgomery once again. They were treated to 9 races of fast and furious windward-leeward action.
Olympic selector and gold medallist Iain MacDonald-Smith attended the regatta in his talent scouting capacity, presumably having heard of the fault-free boat handling and tactical brilliance on display at these events. Iain unfortunately had to solve the conundrum of how to detach his allotted RIB from the dock – safely secured by a lock and chain. Thankfully a pair of boltcroppers resolved the issue and Iain was the worthy recipient of the Academy’s ‘nut and bolts’ trophy – the first time we have found the need to award this to an Official!
Nick Phillips, with Tom Montgomery on the bow set the standard of boat handling early in race one with an almost artistic spinnaker twist followed by a spinnaker pole kerfuffle. Eventually they settled for a pole-less downwind leg as they set about chasing down the now-distant fleet. As the confidence of the Academicians built, Ed Wilton demonstrated a lack of judgement on the start line by attempting a late port-hand flyer on a starboard biased line. Thankfully he safely ducked the entire fleet and followed them to the windward mark.
These newly-discovered tactical plays were put to use again in race 3, this time to great effect by Matt Hardy. More accustomed to helming a 40 tonne Swan 82, Matt took full advantage of the nimble handling of these 24 foot yachts to send Alex Pollock the wrong side of the finish buoy. Such was the race committee’s amazement at witnessing genuine tactical sailing at an Academy Cup, Matt was awarded the Talisker Tactical Trophy.
The seemingly inevitable man overboard took place in race 4. Elie Dobson showed us how to MOB in style in 2011 but this time it was Kate Rossiter who found herself a bit moist. Having been press-ganged in to racing that day in the first place, it was fitting to award Kate the Ladies Trophy.
We are not unaccustomed to blood at the Academy Cup but we had a ‘first’ this year in that Alex Pollock managed to be struck by the boom whilst helming! We and he are at a loss as to how such a mistake can be made. Needless to say, this crew showed no sympathy whatsoever and more focussed on photographing the resulting injury than providing first aid. Medical Officer Dr Tony Howe was soon on the scene and declared that Alex should take more care in the future. Alex’s steri-sutured forehead was beautifully framed that evening when he was award the Throne of Endeavour, a loo seat which is traditionally worn over the head of the recipient.
As the wind began to fade away on another hard fought Academy Cup, it was Duncan McCarthy, supported by his all-female crew that were crowned 2013 champions and lifted the Academy Cup. Nick Phillips swept up behind the fleet with the Golden Broom, trying to redeem themselves with superior water fighting on the last leg of the final race.
Back on the dock, it was beers all-round and a quick change before heading to Lake Yard for the prize giving dinner.