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The 98th British American Cup hosted by Royal Thames Yacht Club

by William Steevenson 24 Sep 2019 14:59 BST 19-21 September 2019
98th British American Cup ©

On the 19th to the 21st of September saw sixteen of Americas best team racers came over from Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club to England to face their British equivalents organised by the Royal Thames Yacht Club, at Queen Mary Sailing Club.

This was the Second Match of the Sixth Series of this competition to be held. The atmosphere tense, and spirits high as both teams arrived at QMSC early on Thursday morning. Unfortunately the wind was under five knots and not constant so day one of racing consisted mainly of playing ping pong and relaxing in the glorious sun! This was a shame as expert team GB captain Andy Cornah describes the competition by saying there is 'Simply no other sailing event like it- two teams battling it out over 12 hard fought 45 minute races with only the finest of margins deciding the winners -like the Ryder Cup on water.' The teams did manage to take to the water for an hour in the afternoon, but the wind just wasn't setting in, so unfortunately no racing.

Upon arrival on Friday morning, the wind had kicked in, and although shifty there was ten knots plus. A morning's hard fought racing left the teams level pegging, but going into the afternoon the British team had edged ahead. The level of racing and intensity of the competition was felt by both teams, 'The BA cup is typically the best [among the team racing events]', said Team USA Captain Ian Storck, 'The British Sailors are typically more aggressive than our usual American competitors, which makes for very tight racing'. At the end of the days racing the British team were leading by 3.5 points to 1.5.

Saturday saw similar conditions to Friday, and a strong and consistent wind set the stage for another great days racing. It was clear that both sides were going to give no quarter and every point had to be hard earned. Jeff Borland the Chief Umpire, from the US, for the event said 'It was a level of team racing as high as I've ever seen it, and the camaraderie even higher!' The morning and afternoon saw both teams trading race for race, and by the time of the final two races, the scores were even at 4.5 points apiece.

Team GB, won race 11 however due to the unique way the scoring system works had the Americans won the last race and tied, the winner would be the team who won the last race. After two days or racing, it really had come down to this last 45 minute race. The teams were inseparable on the first two laps, with excellent tactical sailing on both sides and by the final lap team GB had secured 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and all three boats crossed the line together with their team mate coming in at 8th to secure a 6.5 to 4.5 win over Team US.

The event culminated in a gala dinner back at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, where both teams could come together and socialise one last time before they meet again for the Centenary anniversary in 2021, making The BA Cup the oldest team racing trophy in the world. Spirits were high and as the teams prepared to carry the evening on into the early hours Rear Commodore Sailing and Chief Race Officer Jennifer Woods reflected on the event: 'Day 1 the winds were too light to race however day 2 and 3 gave us Champagne sailing for this 4 on 4 team racing series which is at the pinnacle of team racing between the British and Americans. It was an honour to run the 12 races with the top racers from both of our countries and watch the tactics unfold from the committee vessel.'

This competition really is a show case of how team racing should be done, all of this wouldn't be possible without RTYC member, Mike Halstead who has made the BA Cup what it is over recent years. He views it as being 'Without question the most exciting sailing experience that as a club we competitively engage in.' and I don't think there are many out there that disagree.

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