Over the weekend, we traveled to the historic West Kirby Sailing Club for a few days of team racing. West Kirby is located just outside Liverpool and one of the stronger hotbeds for team racing in the entire world. It is also home to the Wilson Trophy, arguably the toughest team race regatta in the world. The racing takes places on a small marine lake that is just big enough to squeeze in a small team racecourse in Fireflies. There are hundreds of people hooting and hollering on grandstands that are lined up along the water, creating a sporting arena atmosphere since the sailors can sail right up to the sea wall. The Wilson Trophy is an event I need to come back and take part in.
Our stay at West Kirby started with the 4th match of the BUSA Tour on Friday afternoon, another 3v3 Team Race in Fireflies. The marine lake is incredibly shifty and no lead was safe on the final beat. Our team was much better on the starting line compared to our first 3v3 match back in Oxford. We consistently came off the line with speed, covered our pairs, and balanced well to round the top marks in winning combinations. ICSA narrowly won two races rounding the bottom mark in a 1-2-6 combination despite the shifty final beats. However our luck ran out in race 5 and BUSA was able to unbalance the fleet and take their first win of the tour. Our team was able to bounce back and win race 6 to win the match 5-1.
Over the weekend, we took part in a casual open team race regatta that included our team, BUSA, the West Kirby Sailing Club, and MCS, the local high school team. Instead of sailing on the small marine lake, the WKSC opted to venture out to the sea during high water. The waters outside West Kirby is home to massive 10-meter tidal swings. At low water, the tide will wash out mile away from the WKSC launch ramp. Consequently, in order to get to the desired racecourse, the fleet had to leave early in the morning before the water washed away and the boats get stuck in the mud. We were able to get a few races in the strong ebbing tide before the breeze lightened up and current built to five knots, making it impossible to sail around the course, forcing the Race Committee to postpone racing. However, the WKSC prepared accordingly and the remainder of the day was full of fun activities. With the huge tidal swings, a massive five square mile sandbar emerges during low water, creating a temporary beach for the general public to enjoy. As the tide got lower and lower, our Fireflies as well as several other local’s boats eventually floated on top of the sandbar. The WKSC brought out barbecue and music while we played some rugby and cricket, making for an awesome afternoon. The picture below is the ICSA and BUSA teams hanging out on the sandbar. We resumed racing on the marine lake on Sunday morning. Once again they were very shifty and tricky conditions, making the racing very close and exciting. Our team scrapped well and was able to grind out six straight wins to take the event.
After a couple days in Oxford staying with BUSA sailor Nick Wilkinson, we ventured our way down to London for our final stay of the tour. Our final match was a 3v3 team race in Lasers on the Queen Mary Reservoir. I had never team raced in Lasers before, making it that much more exciting to get back in the boat. We had a practice day in the Lasers on Tuesday afternoon followed by an evening team race against some BUSA Tour alums in Fireflies on a tiny reservoir next to Wembley Stadium. Wednesday came around and we were set for our final match of the tour. Along with myself, Chris Segerblom, Mac Mace, and Ben Spector rotated amongst each other to form our team. Cam Douglas, James Grant, and Olly Porter, all fresh off the Laser Junior Worlds in Hungary last week, represented the BUSA side. The Queen Mary Reservoir was similar in size to the Farmoor Reservoir in Oxford, providing yet another shifty venue for team racing. Our team looked to out smart the other team and execute balancing and plays better than our opposition. ICSA showed strong execution on the starting line and rounded nearly every top mark in a winning combination. However, the British showed good speed on the downwind legs to mix up the races. ICSA was able to either balance well in either 1-2-5 or 2-3-4 combinations, or made the proper pins to free up their teammates. Unfortunately in race 2 and race 6, ICSA found themselves in losing combinations on the final beats and just too big of a hole to dig out of. However, ICSA tallied off five victories to win the match 5-2 and finish the tour with a 5-0 overall record.
All in all, it has been an amazing tour so far and a great experience. Despite a fairly dominating record, the racing was intense and close all the way through. We have made some great friends along the way, sailed in some pretty cool boats in a variety of venues, and experienced some great stories. Last night we went to the Royal Thames Yacht Club for the final banquet. At the dinner, there were members from nearly every BUSA Tour dating back to its beginnings in 1954. It was great to hear their stories, where they sailed in the states, and whom they sailed against. I met a BUSA Tour alum, Tony Lunch, who told me stories when he went to my home venue of Newport Harbor Yacht Club back in 1967 for two weeks and loved every minute of it. We are in London for the remainder of the trip leaving us plenty of time to tour around the city, including a Cricket match this evening. Thanks very much to the BUSA team leader Phil Derry for organizing an amazing tour, great matches, and comfortable housing for our team throughout the trip.
I fly back stateside next week and head to Miami for a couple days to meet up with Chris Herrera and Jaguar Therapeutics who is the head physical trainer for the US Sailing Team. I look forward to working on my training program with his team and how to get in the best shape for Laser sailing.
Cheers from London!
Posted in: Regatta Report