Ten of UCD’s finest sailors represented Ireland at last week’s Student Yachting World Cup in La Rochelle, France, securing first place with a stellar showing over the six day tournament. Having amassed a 12 point lead by Wednesday evening with two races to go, the UCD team were hoping that the bad weather forecast for the final day would not upset their advantage. Fortunately, the high winds headed for La Rochelle ensured that the last two races were cancelled and UCD were crowned the victors.

With two second place finishes on the first day of racing, the Irish contingent set down their intentions quite early, but on the third race on the inshore course that evening they could only manage a disappointing eighth. They settled quickly, however, with Aidan McLaverty putting in a fine display as team skipper with some excellent start line manoeuvres. Another two second place finishes came on the second day of racing, but were again out of luck in the inshore race as a result of a ‘navigational error’.

Day three brought a third place finish and two wins, and was capped off by a night race in darkness around the bay of La Rochelle, carding another third place, while Ireland came second and fourth in the two races on Wednesday – their experience and training helping them to see the competition out.

Originally, UCD had been disqualified from the second race on Tuesday as a result of a supposed start line rule infringement. Captain Cathal Leigh-Doyle, who graduated from UCD earlier this year with a BBL, came across video evidence that proved that his squad were not over the start line for Tuesday’s race and the points they had won with their first place finish were reinstated, cementing their monumental lead over their competitors, including second placed Dalhousie University of Canada, third placed CUS Brescia of Italy, and others such as the US Naval Academy and Exeter University.

Canada and Italy particularly would have liked the opportunity to challenge the leaders on Thursday and Friday, but the heavy winds allied themselves to the Irish team and they received their prizes at a ceremony in La Rochelle’s town hall on Friday night, attended by the town mayor. Cathal Leigh-Doyle, Aidan McLaverty, Ben Fusco, Theo Murphy, Isabella Morehead, Alyson Rumball, Simon Doran, Theo Murphy, Barry McCartin and Ellen Cahill were a credit to their college and their country, and thanks to their win, the UCD team have earned a chance to defend their title next year in France.

By Amy Eustace