Oxford student sailors complete Round Britain and Ireland race

The race is regarded as one of toughest yacht races in the world

Members of the Oxford University Yacht Club during the race. Photo: Talisman

A Oxford University Yacht Club crew has completed the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, coming 11th out of 28 boats.

The student team set off on their 1,805 nautical mile race from Cowes, Isle of Wight, at midday on Sunday 12th August. After spending just over 13 days sailing round Ireland and Britain, they returned to the Isle of Wight at around 1:30pm on Saturday, welcomed by family and friends.

The race, which began in 1976 and takes place every four years, is regarded by some as more challenging than a transatlantic race due to the volatile British weather, and the difficulty of navigating the tidal patterns around land.

Competitors in 2018 also faced a tropical storm off the west coast of Scotland, as well as oil rigs in the North Sea and busy shipping lanes in the English Channel.

Despite finishing almost four days behind the winners, the Oxford crew were pleased to have finished in the top half of the overall rankings.

León López Brennan, Vice-Commodore of Oxford University Yacht Club, told Cherwell: “I am of course very proud of our team’s performance. Sailing around the British Isles in one go is a feat in itself. But doing so in a race – where the yacht is constantly maxed out, and whatever the sea throws at you must be dealt with – is even more impressive.

“Our club is immensely proud of both the physical and, perhaps more importantly, the psychological professionalism of our RBI (Round Britain and Ireland Race) team.”

Paying tribute to the many hours of training undergone by the crew, Brennan also said: “That this race could be completed in the manner that it was goes a long way to show that all those long weekends of training during and in between terms have produced a very solid squad with a strong team spirit.

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“It should also prove to those who equate yachting in general, and university yachting in particular, to summer holidays in Croatia that we stand for hell of a lot more than that.”

Reflecting on the experience, Mélisande Besse, a member of the Oxford crew, said: “I saw islands I didn’t know we had in this country, wildlife I’d never seen near our shore, and stars so bright; so beautiful at night. It’s an adventure and it’s tough, but it’s an amazing experience!”

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