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#teamracing – Eight Leinster schools gathered at the Royal St George Yacht Club on Sunday to battle for provincial bragging rights and coveted places at the Irish Nationals in Schull writes Heather King. The sailors raced in two six-boat flights of Firefly dinghies owned by the RStGYC, including one flight just out of the wrappers!
Under the stewardship of Organiser John Sheehy and Racing John Downey, the racing was slick and very competitive. Conditions were fairly light and tricky though, with the finish line just yards away from the changeover point halfway down the East Pier. Great spectating for competitors, parents and strollers.
After the twenty eight race round robin with each team racing seven times, a clear divide emerged with 4 teams ahead on 5 or 6 wins. Kilkenny College and Gonzaga both had six and St Andrews and Belvedere College were both on five. In the second half of the table Mount Anville emerged top on 3 wins with a young team that very nearly took one or two big scalps along the way. The other teams – Gonzaga B, St Gerards and a selection from Bray schools - all had their finer moments and consistently displayed great teamwork and camaraderie.



Royal St. George organiser John Sheehy (left) with (top) Kilkenny College winners and (below) the third placed St. Andrews College team
By 1600 hours the harbour had become a glassy pond and despite an effort to run another round, the RO called a halt. The big round robin series decided the results with tie-breaks going the way of "who beat who" in individual matches.
This gave the title to Kilkenny College and their team of Heather O Connor, Conor O'Reilly, Scott Levie, Sean Landers, Douglas Elmes and Emily McGrath, with Gonzaga 2nd and St Andrews 3rd and Belvedere College 4th. Mount Anville in 5th took 1st all-girl team. It is top 5 that are guaranteed places at the All-Irelands in Schull on April 13,14.

Published in Team Racing

#teamracing – Schools from across Leinster will sail for the province's Schools Team Racing Championship title in March at the Royal St.George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

The Leinster Schools Team Racing Championship 2013, for three boat teams, will take place on Saturday March 16th. The Championship will be sailed in the club's two person Firefly dinghies. Last year the title was won by Dublin's Gonzaga College.

The event run by the Irish Schools Sailing Association is open to all secondary schools. Each school will put forward a team of 6 sailors aged 18 years of age and under on 14 April 2013.

Prizes will be awarded to the first three school teams with up to four top teams then being selected to represent Leinster at the National School Team Racing Championship in Schull from the 13th to the 14th of April (subject to eligibility).

Teams wishing to compete should contact Carol Healion in the Royal Saint George Yacht Club; 01 214 7859 or [email protected]

A notice of race and an entry form are available to download below.

Published in Team Racing

#teamracing – Despite the news from the Dun Laoghaire ISAF conference last week that there will be no ISAF Team Racing Worlds in 2013, team racing in Ireland is still thriving, this country having hosted the last worlds in Schull in 2011. 18 teams travelled to Schull over the weekend of 10th - 11th November for the Irish Team Racing Association National Championships.

Two of Britain's best teams made the trip, repeating their success of last year. Irish teams included the highly experienced George Knights, the young stars of Schull Youth, college teams from UCC ad UCD, not forgetting two teams from Presentation Brothers, Cork particiapting for the first time. Full results are downloadable as a pdf below.

The organising team from Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre ran racing with great efficiency. On Saturday the occasional squall with gusts up to 35 knots held up racing as boats sheltered in the lee of the harbour wall. Despite this, by the end of the day a first round league had been completed and the second round was under way. League C of the first round was extremely close fought, with 3 teams on 4 wins. The two teams promoted to the Round 2 Gold League were only decided after the third tie break!

After he second round the two British teams, Wessex Extreme and Vultures were leading, allowing them an easier draw in the quarter finals. The Irish teams progressing to the knock-out rounds were:

George Knights, Schull Alumni, PP&J, UCC1 and the first two from the Silver League, UCD and Schull Youth. The hierarchy established in the leagues was maintained with, with the top fou teams progressing to the semi-finals. Wessex Extreme and the George Knights emerged victorious to contest the final.

Anxious to make it to the airport in time for their flight home, Wessex Extreme pulled out all the stops to win the final in two straight races, retaining their overall winner title from last year.

The George Knights added their name, yet again, to the long list of Irish Champions.

Next year's championship will be sailed in Dun Laoghaire on 9th -10th November 2013.


Overall Winner: Wessex Extreme

Overall Second and Irish Champions : George Knights

Irish Youth Champions : Schull Youth

ISA Silver Medal : Schull Alumni

ISA Bronze Medal : PP&J

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#teamracing – Fresh from the success of the Junior All Ireland's at the weekend the Irish Team Racing National Championships are next up in Schull, West Cork on 10th and 11th November.

Organised by the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre, the event will be sailed in the fleet of dinghies TR3.6 specially built for the ISAF Team Racing Worlds.

Teams from all the top Irish colleges, as well as the senior teams that continue to compete in this exciting form racing. Sailors from Schull will be numerous, continuing the tradition of the successful Schull

Youth team. Entries have already been received from British teams attracted by the sailing in West Cork, not to mention the legendary socialising.

Teams, both senior and youth, who wish to compete should contact the Irish Team Racing Association ([email protected]). A Notice of Race and Entry Form are attached to download below as word docs.

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#TEAM RACING - The inaugural EUROSAF Team Racing European 2 Keelboat Championships will be sailed at Lelystad in the Netherlands on 21-23 September.

Entries are invited from teams of six sailors (only four of one gender) with no weight limit. The entry fee is €380, with a €500 damage deposit.

2K team racing is a spectacular form of the sport, as it is rare, when teams are evenly balanced, for one team to get in to a commanding lead.

The team with the last boat loses, so the only safe winning position is to be first and second, with a unassailable lead over the third boat. In all other situations attack and defence continue right up to the finishing line.

Irish teams would benefit greatly from their previous team racing experience, particularly suitable for sailors who have experience of team racing but who find that the Fireflies seem to have shrunk since they were in college! On the other hand the Dutch and the Italians have been honing their skills in 2K racing for several years. All in all, this should be a fascinating event.

The Notice of Race and Entry Form are attached below, and the Irish Team Racing Association requests any team proposing to enter to contact them at [email protected]

Published in Team Racing

#WILSON TROPHY – West Cork's Schull Youth Team lifted the Under 21 trophy at the Wilson trophy at West Kirby in the UK this afternoon

Schull, one of three Irish team competing, finished the event half way down the leaderboard on eight wins. The team comprises four 18-year-olds and two 16-year-olds, all from Schull in southern Ireland, where team racing is part of their school curriculum. They competed at the ISAF Team Racing World Championship on home waters last year where they were narrowly beaten by West Kirby One (it came down to a penalty turn at the end of the deciding race). At the Wilson Trophy it was Schull Youth's turn.

"There is serious rivalry, but we beat them here - we got our revenge on their home turf," declared a satisfied Oisin O'Driscoll, a Schull Youth helm.

At one point on Saturday Schull Youth had pulled up to eighth overall, but O'Driscoll said they had made some silly mistakes due to their inexperience. "This was my first time at the Wilson Trophy – it is the most amazing team racing event ever. It is the best set-up I have ever seen. Every race is bang-bang-bang. We had over 200 races – it's incredible."

The 63rd Wilson Trophy will be remembered as the sunniest and windiest on record, but also for being the first time, in as long as anyone can remember, that competition at West Kirby Sailing Club's British Open Team Racing Championship had to be cut short mid-way through the quarter finals.

Ireland's two other teams Royal St. George YC and Howth YC finished tenth and 11th respectively. Dun Laoghaire's John Sheehy was the guest speaker at the event and Rachel McManus received the Joyce Evans Trophy. Full results table here. Below youtube footage of the race between Schull Youth and Royal Lymington YC 2012.

Because of this the final results reverted to the last complete round, or round 16 of the Wilson Trophy's Swiss league, where local favourites West Kirby Hawks had come out on top, followed by New Forest Pirates.

Racing today started at 0800 in 12 knots, the wind having backed into the west overnight. This enabled the race management team to bring the number of rounds completed up to 16, or an amazing 240 races sailed for the thirty teams taking part. Unfortunately, just as the final rounds were starting, the wind built significantly. The teams were sent back to fit smaller mainsails and the quarterfinals eventually got underway with the gathered crowd on the stadium seating adding their own unique commentary to the proceedings. Sadly the wind continued to build and with this came damage - jib tensioners and main halyards parting company and a broken rudder.

The big conditions were forecast, only for later in the afternoon, as Principle Race Officer Adam Whittle explained: "The wind came in a lot earlier than it was meant to. It was gusting 36 knots at Hilbre [the weather station nearby] and it just wasn't feasible to continue. We were having break downs and people were getting injured. It wasn't team racing – it was survival. Having sailed 16 rounds in perfect team racing conditions, I thought it would have been wrong of us to carry on."

Having suffered defeats to a US team in the last two Wilson Trophy finals, West Kirby Hawks finally came out on top for the first time since 2009.

Hawks helmsman Andy Cornah said they were right to stop racing. "The problem with these conditions is you are not team racing, you are just trying to get the boats around the course and it changes it a lot and it's not what you want."

West Kirby Hawks started the day on the back foot, a win behind Wessex Exempt and Royal Thames Red, but an excellent morning saw them complete the league in the lead, the sole team on 12 wins, ahead of New Forest Pirates, Tabby Cats, West Kirby SC and Wessex Exempt on 11.


Winners West Kirby Hawks. Photo: James Boyd

"Yesterday was a little bit frustrating and we dropped a few races, which we were disappointed about," admitted Cornah. "We knew this forecast was here today and winning the league would be important, so we just forgot about yesterday and moved on and put a good series together."

West Kirby Hawks has a 'new' boat this season sailed by Matt Findlay and Toby Lewis, after Dom Johnson and Debs Steele retired following their ISAF Team Racing World Championship victory last year. However in a one-off appearance Johnson and Steele returned to this Wilson Trophy with New Forest Pirates and, clearly having lost none of their skill, came home second with Stuart and Jane Hudson and Owen Modral and Claire Wood.

Dom Johnson explained: "We are taking some time out and are not campaigning at the moment, so we took the opportunity to reform an old team we used to sail together as. My team mates haven't really done any team racing for the last four years, so it was nice to come back and do the best team racing event of the calendar and have some fun. We were really chuffed to end up with second place."

A highlight was beating the West Kirby Hawks early on yesterday, although they were subsequently beaten by the eventual victors when the two teams came head to head earlier today.

As to terminating racing, Johnson added: "It is a shame we haven't been able to finish off the event, but I think they made the right call – I snapped a rudder in the last race and it was a bit of a melee. We were at that stage of breeze where things were starting to give up. It must have been blowing over 30 knots in some of those gusts and masts and ripped sails would have been next."

Despite the weather not co-operating, West Kirby Sailing Club Commodore Chris Riley was satisfied with this year's event. "I think it has gone very well. It is a shame about the weather at the beginning and at the end, but that's sailing. This morning and Saturday the weather was perfect and we got over 200 races in and that was fantastic. We can't complain and all the competitors are very very happy. It is just a shame we didn't get the finals in."

Published in Team Racing

#WILSON TROPHY – Were the Wilson Trophy a speed sailing event, then today would have been perfect with sunshine and 20+ knot winds this afternoon . Unfortunately with the wind gusting up to 36 knots in the morning, racing was unable to take place at West Kirby Sailing Club's British Open Team Racing Championship, despite one false start at 1600.

"It dropped to mid-20s and continued to drop and then when I announced to the competitors that we'd go, we had had 20 minutes of 14-15 knots - so sailable conditions - then unfortunately it came back up," explained Principle Race Officer, Adam Whittle. "Yesterday when the tide turned, the wind went as well and I thought it would do the same today and the Hilbre forecast said it was dropping, but unfortunately that wasn't what happened."

Racing will now commence at 0800 tomorrow when conditions are looking more sedate, with 10 knots and sunshine forecast. "In the history of doing two and a half days we have never lost a half day, so it is a shame," admitted Whittle.

At the Wilson Trophy the great and good of team racing are instead reluctantly filling their time at West Kirby Sailing Club's bar. Among them is Steve Tylecote, author of Team Racing For Sailboats, who has competed at this event around 22 times and reckons he's won it six or seven times.

"It is a tough call with a very, very enthusiastic bunch of sailors here," Tylecote said of the lack of play today. "The Race Officer can never win – do they get lynched by the sailors or the owners of the boats? If it was the end of the regatta and we were in the knock-out phase, they would have gone sailing with reefed mains. One of the things they could consider is racing without jibs as well, but they have never done that here yet."

Tylecote is competing with the Rutland Raiders, a local team from Rutland with a line-up that includes former Olympic Finn turned Musto Skiff sailor, Richard Stenhouse.

Making the trip across from Ireland is Darragh O'Connor, a helm with the Howth Yacht Club team. This is only O'Connor's second participation at the Wilson Trophy, although he wishes he'd been able to come more. "I was asked four or five times over university to do it, but it always clashed with college exams. I finally finished college a couple of years ago and I have been doing it ever since and hopefully I'll be back for a lot more."

Only two of the six-strong line-up are Howth Yacht Club members, but O'Connor says they sail a lot out of that club, which also kindly put up some money to help send them across from Ireland to compete at West Kirby this weekend. Last year O'Connor's team narrowly missed out on reaching the quarter finals. "We hope to step it up this year and if we get to the quarter finals, we'll be very happy."

Personally O'Connor heralds from Schull in West Cork, which is where the ISAF Team Racing World Championship was held last year. Schull has this year sent a youth team to the Wilson Trophy.

As to not racing today, O'Connor agrees with the ultimate call not to go racing. "It is better to have good racing than forced. It takes away from team racing and puts it into survival mode."

Published in Team Racing
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#TEAM RACING – West Kirby Sailing Club's Wilson Trophy fires up at 1300 tomorrow, Friday 11th May, with 30 teams competing for the British Open Team Racing Championship title. The event is set to be a windy one, the forecast showing gusts of up to 18 knots on Friday, building into the 20s on Sunday afternoon.

The majority of teams competing at the 63rd Wilson Trophy this year are from the UK, but three come from Ireland and two have made the journey across from the USA for the three day long event.

From Guilford, Connecticut, Colin Gordon is one of the helms in the team Wise Old Men and this year will be sailing his 16th Wilson Trophy. The Wise Old Men typically come from a group of 20 based on the US east coast between New York City and Boston, but this year is more an Anglo-American mix including helms John Greenland and West Kirby's own Jamie Marston.

Wise Old Men occasionally reach the quarters or semi-finals, but have yet to make it to the finals. Of their prospects at this year's Wilson Trophy, Gordon advises: "We will use our 'old man' guile and wile to occasionally pick off the unsuspecting youngster, but we'll see how we do..."

So what is the attraction of the Wilson Trophy that is bringing him back to West Kirby for a 16th time? "It is that perfect combination of the best dinghy team racing in the world, the best umpires in the world, the best race management in the world – the envelope of good team racing and good race management is always led by this regatta and this club. The advancements and the innovations made at this regatta filter across the pond and around the world to racing regattas over the subsequent years – it is always where it evolves.

"And the social side is outstanding - because I have been coming for a long time, it is great way to see a bunch of friends at the same," says Gordon, who lived in the UK for three years during the 1990s. "It is a great trip for US team racers. We just don't have anything like it."

Another long term competitor at the Wilson Trophy is Debs Steele, a retired army Colonel, who first competed when she was a junior subaltern for the Army team in the late 1980s. She has since sailed at the event with the Combined Services, Spinnaker, RYA 1, New Forest Pirates and West Kirby Hawks. She is a five time winner, most recently with the Hawks in 2009 and runner-up last year.

However after the Hawks won the World Team Racing Championship in Ireland last year, Steele and her helm Dom Johnson retired from the all-conquering Hawks. "My helm Dom Johnson needed some family time, so our time was limited for training and competing," Steele explains.

This year she returns to the Wilson Trophy with New Forest Pirates and admits that this will be the first time she has ever competed at the event with no training beforehand. "I think it will be fun, and if we can string some decent results together in the early stages I expect our team performance to improve exponentially over the three days. The special thing about our team is that all of the helms are from the old New Forest Pirates team [twice winners previously and runners-up once]. So we sailed together pretty successfully in the past - and we are all friends.

"The Wilson is simply the best team racing event in the World. It has superb facilities, evenly matched flights of boats, a brilliant and hard-working shore back-up team, excellent administration and utterly fantastic racing within an ingenious Swiss League programme and to cap it, probably some of the best team racing umpires in the world. In addition, the social scene is cool and the Saturday evening Wilson dinner has to be attended to be fully appreciated."

But the Wilson Trophy is not only for seasoned competitors. Team racing is a popular pastime for university sailing clubs and at least eight teams competing at the Wilson Trophy represent universities.

For example Ed Morris has competed in the Wilson Trophy four times previously, twice for Spinnaker and then representing Southampton and Durham universities. This year he is competing with a BUSA (British Universities Sailing Association) team, who he admits haven't sailed together before but includes individuals who have done well previously with their respective university teams.

"The Wilson Trophy is simply the Best Team Racing there is," Morris enthuses. "This is for a variety of reasons: Firstly the venue is brilliant, with reliable breeze and the feeling of being on the sea without the pain that tides and currents cause in team racing. On top of this, the whole event is a master class in organisation; the Race committee is first class being both friendly, but fair and proper - and always starts with ruthless efficiency at 0757!

"Furthermore the event has the best umpire team of any event in the world, assembled from across the globe. Knowing that every race is fully umpired is amazing and you know that you will get consistency from the umpires. The flights of boats are always perfectly matched and of good quality. Off the water, the club lays on a fantastic social program that makes the event even more enjoyable.

"I think this combination of great sailing and socializing means that the best teams want to come and win the coveted Wilson Trophy which only serves to make it a better regatta.

"Finally it is worth remembering the whole membership of WKSC who work so hard during the event; from rigging and de-rigging, to the helping with the socials and finally most crucially hosting teams. By keeping the members closely involved, it gives the event a really special local feel that is often missing from the large international sailing events."

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#TEAM RACING – Ireland is fielding two of the 32 teams at one of international team racing's most historic competitions, the Wilson Trophy, which sets sail on Friday 11th May. The three day event is hosted by West Kirby Sailing Club. With 30 teams competing on the Wirral peninsula for this year's British Open Team Racing Championship, the form going into the event is anything but certain.

Dublin's Howth Yacht Club and Royal St. George Yacht Club are sending teams. The Royal St George Yacht Club Team is a mix of the Gladiators and Knights teams. All of this team have sailed in the Quarter Finals of the Wilson before and as such must be seen as the best Irish hope.

Sailing for Royal St. George Yacht Club is Marty O'Leary and Rachel Macmanus, John Sheehy and Michelle Rowley, Johnny O'Dowd and Rebecca Killian.

The Howth team (who were IRL 2 in ISAF Team Racing Worlds September 2011) is Darragh O' Connor and Hannah Herlihy, Simon Rattigan and Lynn Reilly, George Kingston and Sonia Minihane.

This year marks the 63th occasion the Wilson Trophy has been held with racing taking place as usual between three boat teams sailing Fireflies on West Kirby's Marine Lake, a man-made lake rebuilt in 1986. Perhaps the original example of stadium sailing - now being adopted in the Olympic Games and even the America's Cup - a grandstand is set up around Marine Lake allowing spectators, well into their 1000s over the duration of the event, to get a bird's eye view of the action taking place on the water.

The Wilson Trophy uses the 'Swiss league system' before entering its knock-out stages. This is an on-going league system where after an initial ranking, teams move up and down the leagues according to their most recent results. The cumulative results from each round determine which teams will race which in the following round. These are followed by quarter and semi-finals before the grand finale rounds off the event on the Sunday afternoon.

With 30 three boat teams, there is a huge quantity of racing to get through in two and a half days, and this requires the competition to take place at a furious pace. In 2011 a total of 320 races were held with each team sailing 21 races before even getting to the knock-out rounds. For this reason races are kept short, lasting typically just six to eight minutes, sailed around an S-shaped course on Marine Lake.

Among the crews taking part are the cream of team racing talent, including two teams from the USA and three from Ireland. The benchmark could well be the West Kirby Hawks, runners-up at the Wilson Trophy for the last two years, winners of the UK Nationals three times and winners of the ISAF Team Racing World Championship in Ireland last September. However since the Worlds two of their six strong line-up have changed, with Toby Lewis and Mat Findlay replacing Dom Johnson and Deborah Steele.

West Kirby Hawks' Andrew Cornah is competing in his 14th Wilson Trophy, having sailed it every year since he was 17. "It is a fantastic event, the best team racing event on the planet," he says. "But I grew up in West Kirby knowing all about it. It is quite a mythical thing."

As to the Hawks' new recruits, in Toby Lewis they have a three time winner of the Endeavour Trophy champion of champions event. "He is a bit of a super crew," admits Cornah. And this should certainly help in their quest to recover the Wilson Trophy. "We have been in the final for the last three years, and losing the last two years, we are quite hungry to go and win it back," he adds.

Other teams likely to be in contention are the two from the Royal Thames Yacht Club - Red and Vultures – who have been consistently finished in the top three for the last couple of years. Perennial visitors from the USA are the Woonsocket Rockets, who regularly make the quarter and semi-finals of the Wilson Trophy. Among their line-up are sailors who finished second and third at last year's Worlds. Also capable of getting to the top of the leaderboard are the Cambridge Tabby Cats and Spinnaker Jedi, recent winners of the UKTRA RYA National Team Racing Championships at Bough Beach.

With ex-Hawks helm Dom Johnson returning to his original team, New Forest Pirates, it is also possible that they will see a return to their glory years when they enjoyed back-to-back victories in the Wilson Trophy over 2002-3.

Racing at the Wilson Trophy starts at 1300 on Friday, 11th May.

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#TEAM RACING – Hosts Schull made a clean sweep of the prizes at a breezy edition of the Irish Schools Team Racing Championships 2012 sailed in West Cork last weekend  (21st/22nd April) with 12 teams from Munster, Leinster and Connaught taking part.

The National Championships were raced in West Cork's own new TR3.6 dinghies.

Only 20 races took place on Saturday due to an increase in wind strength during the day. Racing was planned to start at 09.00 hours on Sunday morning but again due to wind strength sailing had to be delayed until midday.

After 47 races and a looming deadline to meet it was decided to race the three teams that had won all their races off against each other as they had not  met in the round robin stages.

Schull 1, Schull 2 and CBC, Rochestown were all in with a chance depending on the results of these races. Schull 1 were eventual winners with Schull 2 runners up and CBC coming third.

Places for the other teams were as follows:

Irish Schools Team Racing Championships 2012 - RESULTS

Gonzaga and Rochestown 4th

Schoil Mhuire 5th

Belvedere 6th

St Andrews 7th

Calasanctius 8th

Rathdown 9th

Bish 10th

Rice 11th

Published in Team Racing
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