Six pupils took part in the British Schools Dinghy Racing Association (BSDRA) Southern Championships last week, with the Cranleigh team finishing third overall.

Team racing in sailing involves three boats from one school team racing against three boats from another team, trying to establish an overall winning combination over their opposition. With this being only Cranleigh’s second full season of team racing, our aim was to enjoy the event and improve; especially given that we were competing against schools who sail all year round and have team raced for many years.

Our team, made up of Piers N. and Ruari B. (boat 1), Archie G. and Harry H. (boat 2) and Charles H. and Archie W. (boat 3) had other ideas. During the round robin phase, where Cranleigh competed against every other team, they won their first six races beating Eton, Clifton, Ryde and Tonbridge. 

The heavier wind conditions clearly suited us, with Piers, Charles and Archie G. showing some excellent boat speed throughout the morning and some good tactical awareness.  We eventually lost to Magdalen College School, Royal Grammar School and Winchester College, however, we qualified in fourth place for the semi-finals, which is the first time a Cranleigh team has qualified for phase two of a team racing event. 

The semi-finals and finals were the best of three races and Cranleigh took on a well drilled and seasoned MCS team. With the wind dropping in the afternoon and Cranleigh pushing too hard on the start line, we lost 2-0 and therefore competed against RGS, last year’s winners, in the petit final (3/4 playoff).

We lost the first race but won the second, meaning a tense last race. Going round the last mark RGS were completely in control with boats in first, third and fourth, compared to Cranleigh’s second, fifth and sixth. However, in true team racing style Piers N. with exceptional skill slowed his boat down about 10 metres from the finish line, and therefore slowed the RGS boats in third and fourth enough to allow both Charles and Archie to overtake and cross the line in third and fourth. 

Cranleigh finished in second, third and fourth to RGS’s first, fifth and sixth, meaning that Cranleigh came third overall in the Southern Championships.

Well done to Piers, Archie, Harry, Ruari and Charles, who have worked hard on their team racing skills in the last year, and to Archie W. for making an excellent debut. Next stop is the Hoad Shield after half term. With some of the team still having years ahead of them and an increase in the number of students sailing in the Fourth Form, team racing at Cranleigh will hopefully have a bright future going forward.