Team Racing Primer
Wednesday, Mar 13, 2024 (7:00 pm - 8:00 pm)
Come celebrate the discipline of team racing at SSA evening of 13 March 7-8pm.
We will provide some tactics and strategy education, discussion of opportunities to team race in both dinghy and keelboat, and get excited about the upcoming US Sailing Team Racing Championship in Annapolis on the Chesapeake bay mid August!
A bit of history:
"If an event is only as good as the people competing in it, the first Team Race Nationals ranks among the best." - Dave Powlison Yacht Racing & Cruising 1979.
Team Racing came of age in the United States, when "Yacht Racing and Cruising", sponsored the first Official Team Racing Championships in 1979. The event's goal has been to put a premium on team racing performance while maximizing spectator appeal. Within the ranks at the inaugural event was an amazing diversity of talent. Championships won by some of the 1979 competitors included: the 505, 470, Fireball, Star, Laser, Lightning, Snipe, and the Youth World Championships not to mention 3 Olympic Medals, two America's Cups and more National and North American titles than can be listed here. The hottest sailors were there in droves: Mark Reynolds, Steve Benjamin, Dave Ullman, Neil Fowler, Peter Isler, Dave Perry, Ed Adams, John Bertrand, and Gary Knapp just to name a few. The Championship was eventually adopted by US Sailing and gained international recognition. Teams have traveled from Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Great Britain to compete in the George R. Hinman Trophy, as the event was named in the early 80's. The event rotated around the country to locations which could provide at least 12 evenly matched boats. Eliminations were regionally held which constrained the make-up of the teams a bit and “protest" became a norm of team racing tactics.
Two developments coupled with some very hard work sparked a new pulse into the Hinman Trophy. In 1993, Vanguard Sailboats started supplying their Vanguard 15 sloop dinghies to be used as the official Hinman team racing boats which opened the options for regatta sites tremendously. This year's event will be hosted by Erie YC and 24 brand new V15’s will arrive in two tractor trailers immediately prior to the event. Secondly, A culture was formed at the 1992 Hinman in San Francisco, one year prior to the provision of the perfect boats. The United States Team Racing Association (USTRA) was founded by Hinman competitors to promote fun and competitive team racing events. The regatta format employs umpiring on the water much like the match racing circuit so protests are less prevalent.
The US Team Racing Association (USTRA) Creed, written in 1992, was adopted as the guiding principle for the future of team racing in the US.
“More team racing events mean more fun racing for everyone involved. The emphasis at our regattas is on close, competitive and above all, fun racing between sailors. The operative word here is fun! Although protests are infrequent, when confronted by necessary and fair protests, we hold "three minute justice" protests to keep the regattas rolling. Sailors are expected to control themselves and act with the highest level of sportsmanship in order to ensure that these events will continue to be fun, enjoyable events for everyone involved.”
These core values were respect for rules, strategy and competitors, and appreciation for having a good time. Learning was emphasized as a key aspect of successful events. All agreed that team racing is NOT ABOUT THE TROPHY! A premium was placed on boat handling and execution of tactical situations. All understood that team racing was the most exciting aspect of the sport, for both competitors and spectators.
The 2024 event will most likely be one of the most competitive team racing events. Teams will come stacked with talent, well practiced, and ready to push themselves, their competition and these responsive, lightweight, performance dinghies to the limit. It will be sailed in FJs with team colored sails. The sails make it obvious for spectators to see who is who on the water and additionally, make exceptional billboards for sponsorship signage. It is not uncommon to see the six boats tacking 75 times in two minutes and performing radical maneuvers in extremely tight situations. It is also not uncommon to see a capsize or collision. The competitors are pushing the envelope on boat maneuvering and occasionally they crash and burn. The modern Hinman competitor remains consistent with the tradition of talent established in 1979. Today we commonly see Olympic Medalists, World Champions and pro sailors competing.
Team racing has come a long way in the last four decades. The sport now attracts young competitors, the not-so-young, experienced team racers, race management gurus, and judges of the highest caliber. All appreciate the core values of the sport and the reality of the adrenaline rush it inspires with participation. Each month brings more opportunities to learn and compete.