New Forest Pirates and Spinnaker on the plane to NZ
The RYA Team Racing Committee determined that the venue for the trials would be Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour and be sailed in 420s, as these are the boats that will be used at the worlds. Entries were invited from teams rather than individuals, and the trials winner and runner-up would be chosen to represent Great Britain.
The trials series consisted of three weekend events. After the first weekend the number of teams were reduced to six, of which four were taken forward to the final weekend. Points gained at the second weekend would be halved and carried forward to the third.
Going into the final weekend, Spinnaker and Royal Thames Yacht Club were tied on 3.5 points, with Friends of Alice Lisle and New Forrest Pirates both on 2.5 points. Putting extra pressure on the final selection weekend with everything to sail for.
It was a nervous week for the organisers with gales consistently forecast for the weekend, but when the teams turned up at the Royal Navy Sailing Centre at Whale Island on 2 November there was a flat calm. However, the wind quickly filled in to a steady force 2-3 and racing got underway.
Racing was close and the umpire team were kept on their toes. The pattern for the day was set early with Pirates beating Spinnaker in their first two meetings and Spinnaker defeating both RTYC and Friends. A total of 30 races were sailed over the weekend, with three round robins completed on the Saturday and a further two sailed in slightly stronger winds on Sunday.
The New Forest Pirates; Stuart Hudson and Linda Eadie, Dom Johnson and Debs Kershaw and Owen Modral sailing with Jane Stamp, came through to win the trails series and with it their place on the plane to New Zealand with a total of 15.5 points. Spinnaker; Steve Tylecote and Mel Hughes, Pete Barton and Sally Cuthbert and Rob Sherringham sailing with Richard Guy, were runners up to secure their place at the worlds with 12.5 points. RTYC finished third with 7.5 points and Friends of Alice Lisle fourth with 6.5 points.
RYA Racing Services Manager David Atkinson commented, "The teams have fought
long and hard over three tough weekends and it has been a difficult selection trials. The level of competition has been very high and I think the two teams that have been selected have a good chance of doing well at the worlds."
The 2003 ISAF Team Racing World Championships takes place in 420 class dinghies from the 31 January-7 February in the gap between the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series Finals and the start of the America's Cup, on a course close to Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Thanks go to: Dave Atkinson, Canford and Claysmore Schools for lending the 420s, Ken Bichard the chief instructor at the RNSC for providing the excellent facilities, Sandra Atkins who ran the races, Alan Guy who set the courses, Chris Atkins, Richard Thompson, Nick Ross, Peter Price, Penny Carter, Greg Ansell, Martin Smethers and Craig Mitchell who all umpired at the various weekends and finally the selectors, Jeremy Vines and Chris Atkins.