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IOCA (UK) Random Pairs and 4 Boat Team Racing

by Mark Creasy 11 Jun 2019 06:21 BST 8-9 June 2019
IOCA (UK) Random Pairs and 4 Boat Team Racing © IOCA (UK)

At the weekend the first GBR random pairs and 4 boat team racing event was held at West Kirby Sailing Club, the home of the Wilson Trophy. 24 sailors took part in the event, from across the UK and Ireland. The event was split into two separate events over the two days; random pairs on Saturday and a full 4 boat event on Sunday. The winning team from the Sunday event would be chosen to represent IOCA and GBR at the annual OpitTeam Cup in Berlin, in October.

After the sailor briefing on Saturday morning by the PRO a delayed start was displayed in the hope that the 28+ knots of wind would subside and provide an opportunity to go racing. Whilst waiting to see if the wind dropped enough the sailors were kept busy in the classroom with experienced team, match racer and IOCA coach Matt Whitfield to learn more about the skills needed to team race and to dust off their rule books. Unfortunately, the weather didn't subside and the PRO abandoned racing for the day mid afternoon to allow sailors to enjoy exploring the surrounding area and prepare for the early start of 9.00 am on the water the following day.

A complete contrast met the sailors on Sunday morning when they arrived at the club, clear blue sky and a light gentle breeze. The Race Committee got the sailors launched on time ready to start 2.5 hours of random pairs before a quick lunch and then 3 rounds of 4 boat team racing in the afternoon. The wind was light in the morning for the random pairs but this gave the sailors the perfect opportunity to practice their stills before the afternoon's main event. A fast turnaround of races meant that nearly 80 races were completed in the random pairs with all the sailors completing 7 races each. Two sailors had 100% wins which was very impressive.

The competitiveness intensified in the afternoon when the teams got down to the serious business of competing for their place in Berlin. Three teams were leading the charge after the first round, with West Kirby Whirlwind, Barbarians and George & Dragon Teams setting the early pace. As the competition continued the racing became closer and the other teams started to push the early leaders. After 4.5 hours of racing the teams had finished 3 rounds and the champions could be crowned - the local team, West Kirby Whirlwind won the event, and are off to to Berlin in October.

The endeavour award went to Tommy Hazelton from West Kirby who stepped in at the last minute to make up a team following an illness. The Umpire's award was presented by David Taylor to Jacob Davidson-Guild.

Event organiser Mark Creasy said, "It was a fantastic weekend of team racing. Every helm I spoke to said they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves and had learnt lots from taking part. Well done to all the competitors who raced in the event and to the winning team. Wishing them lots of luck in Berlin."

Chief umpire David Taylor said, "I thought for my first 4 boat team racing event it was much better than I expected. The standard of the sailing that I saw from the youngsters was very, very good and particularly in the top teams the communication within the teams was excellent which isn't something you don't often see with some more senior teams. Behaviour was terrific and we didn't have any problems at all in that regard and it was a fantastic event with a great standard of sailing."

Sharon Davidson-Guild, Chair of IOCA (UK) said, "A massive thank you has to go to West Kirby sailing club for hosting such a fantastic event and for all the volunteers for giving up their time to support the sailors. I also need to thank our sponsors Gill who supplied some fantastic prizes for the team; we really appreciate their support. The Race Management team led by Chris Hoppins did an incredible job of getting some much sailing in on one day after the disappointment of the weather on Saturday and I'd like to thank them on behalf of all the sailors for their efforts. I'm really pleased by the feedback from the sailors, there were certainly lots of smiles both on and off the water. We are hoping to make this an annual event, with another event following the same format to be held in at another UK venue as this type of racing provides a different challenge to the usual racing format."

Overall Results:

Results - 4 boats
1st - West Kirby Whirlwinds
2nd - George & Dragon
3rd - The Nomads
4th - Northern Thunder
5th - Barbarians
6th - North East Vikings

Results - Random Pairs
1st - Russell Bolger (IRE)
2nd - Jamie Gatehouse
3rd - Jessica O Riordan

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