Overall - USA victorious

Post date: Jul 24, 2015 5:48:43 PM

By Mike Haigh

The USA open and youth teams both took gold after an action packed final day at the 2015 ISAF Team Racing World Championships at Rutland Water on Thursday 23 July.

Some 107 races were run on the day following an early morning decision to complete the event a day early due to a poor weather forecast for Friday, as 18 teams from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan and USA, plus an ASAF (Asian Sailing Federation) team comprising Indian, Malaysian and Hong Kong sailors battled it out.

After three days of very close racing in which every team sailed 34 races in Stage 1, the three GBR teams and the three USA teams, which between them almost had a monopoly on the top places, progressed into the Gold League for Stage 2 on Thursday. A difference of just six wins covered all six teams.

Bermuda, Ireland and Australia 1 also went through to the Gold League, a great result for Bermuda, who's Captain Emily Nagel learnt to sail at nearby Oakham School, competing in its first ever team racing World championship. The remaining nine teams progressed into the Silver League

Thursday saw a double round robin in the morning for the Gold and Silver leagues, followed by the youth teams stage and finals, and rounded off with the open teams semi-finals and finals.

Racing remained extremely close in the Gold League. GBR1 reigning World Champions the West Kirby Hawks, and USA1, Ladies and Gentlemen of the USA, tied on seven wins, with the Hawks taking top slot on a tie break. GBR 2, The Royal Forth Hoosiers, took third, just ahead of USA 3, Days of Thunder, GBR 3, BYOB (Bristol Young and Old Boys from Bristol University Alumni) and USA 2, Team Shred.

In the Silver League the youth (under 19) teams gave the open teams a hard time. Top youth team USA Y1, Milton Academy, headed the league with seven wins. There was nothing to separate the next three, with GBR Y1, Magdalen College School, Japan 1 and Australia 2 tying on five, the tie break resulting in the order Japan, Australia 2 and GBR Y1.

In the youth stage (for youth teams only) USA Y1 took top honours with seven wins out of eight races, followed by GBR Y3, West Kirby Sailing Club on five wins, and GBR Y1 and GBR Y2, Sevenoaks School both on four, GBR Y1 taking third slot on the tie break.

GBR Y3 then beat GBR Y1 3-2 in a second/third place playoff to secure GBR Y3 a place in the youth final against USA Y1, and the bronze medals for GBR Y1

USA Y1 took the youth final gold honours with a 3-0 win over silver GBR Y3.

Robert Barron, stand-in coach for USA Y1 and father of team member Peter Barron, said: "One of our team members couldn't make it so we brought in Paige Dunlevy, who had never team raced in a dinghy a week ago. Team member Eli Burnes, who's twin brother Henry is also in the team, put this into motion six months ago as part of an 18 months programme at Milton Academy, San Francisco, aimed at retaining the national team racing title in America. Today they lost no races – it's brilliant."

Charlie Hibben, the team's youngest helm, added: "Back home we're not used to being congratulated by other teams on the win – here all the other youth teams approached us, shook our hands, gave us a hug – I want to come back here and sail again."

Back at the racing, in the open competition semi-final USA 3 beat GBR 1 3-2 and USA 1 beat GBR 2 3-0.

The bronze medal was decided in favour of GBR 1 when they beat GBR 2 2-1 in the petit final.

Finally after some 107 races over nearly 12 hours of racing on Thursday, and 420 races in the whole event, with the light fading and the wind dropping the USA teams were victorious in the open final, with gold for USA 1 after a 3-0 victory over silver medallists USA 3.

USA 1 team captain Tyler Sinks said: "We really appreciate what everyone's done here for the sport. The whole field was extremely competitive and we're proud to share the podium with you guys (USA 3 and GBR 1). And congratulations to the USA youth team on their World Championship."

Throughout the event the race office was, considering the pressure, an oasis of relative calm. Gill Wilkins, one of the many volunteers who spent long hours there, said: "The event has gone fantastically well. The whole team has worked really well together, officials and volunteers. I have been impressed with the wonderful team spirit amongst the sailors, who have been a pleasure to be around. It has been a huge honour for us at Rutland Sailing Club to hold this event."

There were thanks all round at prize giving, and event director David Wilkins spoke of the organization involved, including having a RIB full of spares moored near the finish line to keep the hard pressed dinghies serviceable!

Jon Napier, ISAF technical delegate said: "ISAF would like to thank Rutland Sailing Club for the fantastic job they have done in organising and running the Championship to such a high standard. Enjoyable and exciting as team racing is, organising and delivering it at international level has its challenges and Rutland has more than met those.

"We would especially like to thank all the volunteers and club members who have given up the free time to get the event ready, look after the teams and generally keep the machine working as we have progressed through the days."

Principal sponsors of the event were The Royal Yachting Association, Rondar Raceboats (providing two flights of Firefly dinghies), Allen Brothers (British manufacturer of performance dinghy hardware), Oakley (sunglasses) and Rooster (chandlery).

Other sponsors included: Old Pulteney, Harken, Zhik, Gill Marine, Selden, Barnsdale Hall Hotel, Redwings Lodge, Berridge Taxis, Sevenoaks School, West Kirby Sailing Club, Anglian Water and Rutland Tourism. Additional flights of boats are being loaned by Oakham, Oundle and Uppingham Schools and Rutland Sailing Club.