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Team racing back on course for 2021

by British Sailing Team 26 Mar 13:47 GMT
ET Team Racing, Youth winners © Paul Wyeth

Team racing is looking ahead to a successful 2021 on the water following a year of Covid-19 restrictions and cancelled championships.

While racing generally was badly affected by the pandemic, team racing with its primarily winter-focused season was particularly hard hit, with the RYA Team Racing Championships, Women's, BUSA and Eric Twiname Youth and Junior championships all cancelled.

As the majority of team racing is run and supported by schools and universities, it was also nearly impossible for any of its key participants to get in any racing around lockdowns and closures.

But with the easing of restrictions from Monday 29th March 2021, planning is now under way for the return of team racing, with a number of high profile events scheduled and an exciting set of new RYA resources to provide lots of inspiration and know-how for the year ahead.

Keen to support team racing and all those who enjoy it, the RYA has been creating additional resources to help get sailors up to speed: a series of videos are in production looking at the specific manoeuvres and tactics for a team racing course; a coaching manual is due to be published; and online lectures will provide further opportunities for sailors to develop their skills.

The first of these lectures should be live by the end of April with the videos and coaching notes following in September in time for the start of the main team racing season.

Schools get set for BSDRA, NSSA and Eric Twiname events

With restrictions beginning to ease, some schools are already back on the water within the curriculum to train for upcoming events. The school season will get under way in mid-April, with regional competitions taking place into May and June.

Scheduled events include the two-boat National School Sailing Association (NSSA) Double Handed Team Racing Championship at Royal Hospital School (RHS) in Suffolk, 26-27 June, and the British Schools Dinghy Racing Association Finals at Bough Beach SC, Kent, 5-6 July.

Ed Sibson, RHS Director of Sailing and Water Sports, said: "We are very excited to be hosting the first school team racing event in more than a year. School pupils around the country have missed out on a significant amount of competition during the pandemic and we very much look forward to putting on a top-class event in both Fevas and Fireflies to get them back into it and kick start the summer! The Notice of Race will hopefully be published in the next week or so at nssa.org.uk."

Many of these young school teams, along with youth and junior sailors from clubs, will also be anticipating a return to the Eric Twiname Youth and Junior Team Racing Championships, which will once again be hosted by Oxford SC, 9-10 October.

With racing on two courses in Fireflies and Fevas, the last event in 2019 saw 24 Firefly teams and 30 Feva teams competing. 2019 PRO, Keith Sammons from KSail, is optimistic that this year's event will fill up fast when entries open: "ET team racing is one of the most enjoyable racing events on the youth and junior calendar and has been increasing in popularity in recent years. The move to two boat team racing for the juniors has made the racing closer and more exciting for sailors and spectators. I am looking forward to seeing all the sailors come October."

Carmela Cup and Wilson Trophy

Postponed from the end of March 2021, the RYA two-boat Keelboat Team Racing Championship for the Carmela Cup will now take place at the Royal Thames YC over the weekend of 8-9 May. Unlike dinghy team racing, spinnakers will be adding to the complexity and excitement, and the Carmela Cup continually attracts some of the top level talent in the sport.

The second weekend of May would normally see teams from all over the world head to West Kirby on the Wirral for the Wilson Trophy. But with restrictions still in place for accommodation and socialising, 2021 will be the second year in a row that this event has had to be cancelled.

West Kirby SC is planning, however, to see sailors competing in the theatre of dreams with an invitational event planned for 2-3 October 2021. Interested teams should email as soon as possible to register their interest in this new event!

RYA/BUSA Women's Team Racing Championship

Summer will have team racing in action at Rutland SC, host of the 2015 Team Racing World Championships, with the postponed RYA/BUSA Women's Team Racing Championship scheduled for 12-13 June, when competitors will be battling it out to see if anyone can take the title from Oxford University, who were crowned double champions in 2019.

Local organiser Fiona Tylecote said: "We are very much looking forward to welcoming the teams to the RYA/BUSA Women's Team Racing Championship. Having had to postpone last year's event we are really keen to run a great event and make sure everyone enjoys all that we have to offer at Rutland Sailing Club."

September usually sees the start of the main student team racing season and BUSA (British Universities Sailing Association) will also be hoping to see the return of its regular events and qualifiers during the 2021-22 academic year.

BUSA Team Racing Officer, Jamie Webb, said: "We are looking forward to seeing our female sailors back out on the water at the women's championship and watch this space for more events and opportunities in the near future!"

RYA National Team Racing Championship

The RYA National Team Racing Championship for the Prince Philip Trophy, originally scheduled for mid-March at Spinnaker SC, has now been rescheduled at Spinnaker SC for 13-14 November 2021, with a notice of race due to be available during April.

The maximum entry will be 24 teams, subject to any government restrictions at the time, and it is set to be one of the most hotly contested competitions in the UK team racing calendar this year.

As Jack Fenwick from the RYA sums up: "Team racing is one of the most enjoyable and accessible racing disciplines. Multiple short races in a day with a bunch of mates can do wonders to improve your boat handling, rules knowledge and boat on boat tactics. Take a look at the events and get involved!"

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