Four Irish teams will compete against Olympic silver medallists and other top teams from across the UK and USA as the world’s largest team racing event, the British Open Team Racing Championship for the Wilson Trophy, is hosted by West Kirby Sailing Club over Bank Holiday weekend (3-5 May).
Teams from the Royal St George Yacht Club, Royal Cork Yacht Club, Howth Yacht Club and Schull Community College, who won the Under 21 category at the Wilson Trophy last year, are amongst the 34 teams entered, the hot contenders for the Trophy win include special guest entry, British Sailing Team, fronted by 2012 Olympic silver medallists in the men’s 470 class, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell. The duo also have silver medals from World and European 470 Championships under their belts, and are both 2016 Rio Olympic hopefuls.
The Irish teams will face particularly fierce competition this year, as the home team and current ISAF Team Racing World Champions, West Kirby Hawks, seek to defend their 2012 trophy win. Other contenders include the current UK National Team Racing Champions, Spinnaker Auspicious; as well as Royal Thames Yacht Club, Southampton Male Voice Choir, Grafham Sailing Club, Itchenor Sailing Club, Royal Forth Hoosiers and two other local West Kirby teams.
From overseas, New York Yacht Club’s team has traditionally presented a strong challenge and is predicted to do so again this year. A team from Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Pistols, should also feature in the mix.
Also competing will be several university teams, including recent BUSA winners, Bristol. Two school teams are also taking part in the form of RYA Youth Team Racing Champions, Magdalen College.
With so many talented competitors on the water, the sailors will all be vying to earn those all-important places in the quarters, semis and ultimately, the final as they battle their way through the event’s Swiss League format.
The Wilson Trophy is the largest event of its kind in the world; now in its 64th year, the three-day team racing extravaganza takes place in the unique amphitheatre formed by West Kirby’s Marine Lake.
With a premium on boat handling and close-quarters tactics, races are short and action-packed, taking place just metres away from the shore. The promenade and sea wall form ideal vantage points for spectators, with live commentary and grandstand seating, and flights of equally-matched colour-coded Fireflies, making the action easy to follow.
Racing takes place over three days, beginning at noon on Friday and at 8am on Saturday and Sunday. The finals are scheduled to commence at 2pm on Sunday. You can also follow the results at www.wksc.net/wilsontrophy
The 2013 Wilson Trophy is proud to have support from its sponsors: DHL, Carlsberg, GJW Direct, MI Finance and Speed Direct.