Basilica Optimist National Club Team Racing
by Steve Middleton on 13 Apr 2006
Team racing at Burghfield SC Optimist
The Basilica Optimist National Club Team Racing Championship was held at Burghfield Sailing Club over the weekend of April 8 / 9.
This event had a new format for the Optimists requiring four boats per team, the format used internationally by the Optimist class and in particular by the GrandOptical European Inter-club team racing championships for which the winning club becomes eligible.
The competition was set up to reflect the current best practices in team racing and was fully judged with a strong team of National judges. The judges were also able to advise the competitors after each race and it was noticeable that the quality of the team racing improved for all competitors during the weekend.
The objective was to both find a worthy champion team and to entertain the spectators and to do this the course was set with the finish just off the club house enabling the people on the balcony a grandstand view, sometimes along the finish line itself.
There were twelve teams representing seven clubs. Saturday was sunny sunshine and a good force 3 with many bigger gusts to give planning on the down wind legs. The format was a full round robin tournament enabling all teams to sail each other. The competitors very quickly picked up on the need to know the current start number and what colour to make their 'bibs', blue or orange, and all 66 races were sailed with a short break for lunch and another in the afternoon.
It soon became apparent that Lymington, Papercourt and Bowmoor had sent strong teams. When they met each other the team racing tactics were in evidence but against some of the less experienced teams their boat speed was enough to see them home. Meanwhile, these younger teams were finding their feet and beginning to race more tactically when they met each other.
On Sunday the fleet was split; the top six teams went into a Gold Fleet league and the remaining 6 into the Silver league. The intention was to sail a double round robin for each league which would give the competitors more balanced competition.
The Gold league was Lymington Lancers, Lymington Launchers, Lymington Longhorns, Lymington Lions, Bowmoor and Papercourt. Silver was Lymington Lanterns, Thames Valley Terrors (Dorchester & Wraysbury), Burghfield Beaters, Burghfield Bandits, Warsash, and Weir Wood Warriors.
The split was well taken by the competitors. Burghfield Beaters missed gold by one point but took it practically saying that they realised that they would get better racing in silver.
The wind was considerably less than on Saturday and the course was shortened to keep the races around 10 minutes long. The racing was noticeably closer than on Saturday and the lighter winds changed the balance making it more difficult for the older but heavier competitors to dominate. They had to revert to tactical sailing to stay in the hunt. The first round robin was sailed for each fleet and a start made on the second before the lunch break, taking it up to race 105.
Unfortunately as the fleet launched after lunch the wind disappeared as the clouds grew in the north west. It returned occasionally as the clouds passed but inconsistently and after race 112 the fleet was sent ashore.
The race team made the decision that, rather than try to complete the second round robin, they would take the results of the one completed just before lunch and ask the top two teams in each league race to sail a best of 3 race final.
This turned out to be a good decision. The remaining competitors were able to pack up before the heavens opened!
Meanwhile, the wind had filled in again back to its force 3 to provide ideal if somewhat colder conditions for the finals.
The silver league final was a close fought affair between Thames Valley Terrors and Burghfield Beaters. The first race was won by Thames Valley Terrors by 17 points to 19, with boats finishing so close to each other that they had to ask the result.
The second race was a mirror image, Burghfield Beaters beat Thames Valley Terrors by the same margin, again with very close finishes. So it went to the 3rd race. There was much tactical sailing on the last beat and the points went 18 each. Thames Valley Terrors got it on the tie break by getting their points without the first. It couldn’t have been closer.
The Gold Final was not quite so closely fought. Lymington Lancers showed their class, enjoying the slightly stronger breeze to register two straight wins over Lymington Launchers the first 14 vs 22 and the second closer and harder fought at 16 vs 20.
In summary it was a fantastic weekends sailing for everyone and particular thanks must go to Steve & Fiona Tylecote and Ian Bullock who brought the whole event together.
As title sponsors, Basilica made the whole event possible. Supporting partner Sew Your Gear ensured that the large team of helpers had something to remember the event by. For every three sailors there were two adults in the umpiring or race management team and the organizers would like to thank everyone who gave up their weekend to ensure the event ran smoothly.
1st Lymington Lancers Phil Sparks
2nd Lymington Launchers Mark Minors
1st TV Terrors Oliver Cooper
2nd Burghfield Beaters Jake Bullock
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