World Team Racing Championships

Two British teams being fielded at Auckland event first week in February

Thursday January 30th 2003, Author: Suzanne McFadden, Location: Australasia
New Zealand’s leading Laser sailor Andrew Murdoch will join forces with his brother and sister in an attempt to retain the World Team Racing champions trophy on home waters starting this weekend.

Olympic hopeful Murdoch, aged 20, has twice been part of the New Zealand teams who have won the world title – in Ireland in 1999 and the Czech Republic in 2001.

Now the Murdoch clan – Andrew, his elder brother Hamish and sister Rebecca - and three other top sailors from the Kerikeri Yacht Club will defend their title on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour in a week-long regatta starting January 31.

For the first time, New Zealand will contest the ISAF Team Racing World Championship with two strong teams – including a crew of some of the world’s top youth sailors from the Kohimarama Yacht Club in Auckland.

New Zealand II will be captained by Jake Bartrom, Australasia’s No 1 Laser Radial sailor.

The New Zealanders will be up against 14 teams representing eight nations from around the globe. All crews will race in an identical fleet of International 420 two-person centreboard dinghies, battling it out on a spectator-friendly racecourse, set on the edge of the American Express Viaduct Harbour.

Many of the teams in the world championship regatta have family connections – brother-and-sister or husband-and-wife combinations.

In New Zealand I, Andrew Murdoch will helm one of the team’s three boats with sister Rebecca as his crew, while brother Hamish will helm another boat, with Josh Galbraith.

Andrew Murdoch, who is ranked No 1 in the Laser dinghy class in New Zealand, says family instincts can be an advantage in team racing. “If you really know each other well, and you know how the other person in your boat reacts, it’s a big help,” he says.

“Although we fought like any normal siblings as kids, Rebecca and I get on well when we’re sailing together.”

The entire Kerikeri team has been like a close family for the last six years. The Murdoch brothers, Andrew Ardern, Josh Galbraith and national 420 girls’ champion Karen Lambert were all members of the New Zealand team that won the last world championship. The team is coached by Derry Godbert, who introduced team racing to Kerikeri High School more than a decade ago.

“The success of the last two New Zealand teams was that everyone gelled together,” Andrew Murdoch says. “It’s a challenge to get six people to work together in a team like this – especially when they are in three different boats on the racecourse.

“The thing I love about team racing is that it’s the ultimate in being fast and smart, knowing where to place your boat to get the best result for your team.”

In team racing, each team competes with three two-person boats and sails off against another team in a fleet race scenario to score points. The regatta begins with a round-robin phase followed by a series of sail-offs to determine the winning nation.

When the New Zealand team first won the world team racing title in 1999, they were nicknamed the Milkshake Kids, because they were too young to drink the celebratory champagne. Now the youngest team in the regatta is New Zealand II, made up of some of the world’s most promising youth sailors.

Jake Bartrom has just returned from winning the Australian national Laser Radial championships and the Sail Melbourne title – both for a second year running. His crew is Sarah Bilkey, New Zealand’s top woman Starling sailor.

The other two boats in the team are helmed by Scott Kennedy, a two-time national P-class champion, and Geoff Woolley, who helped New Zealand win the ISAF world youth sailing championships in Canada last year.

But don’t think for a moment that the world team racing championships is not restricted by age. The Great Britain I team has an experienced line-up that includes a submarine designer, a British Army colonel and an urban planner – and they are the women in the team. GB1 includes Stuart Hudson, Dom Johnson, Owen Modral, Linda Eadie, Debs Kershaw and Jane Stamp, while Fiona Coates, Steve Tylecote, Mel Hughes, Pete Barton, Rob Sherringham and Sally Cuthbert are in GBR2.

The crews will have two days to acquaint themselves with the 420 boats before the regatta begins proper on February 2.

The 2003 Team Racing World Championship is organised by the New Zealand Team Racing Association, Yachting New Zealand and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

The six fleet sponsors for the regatta are Aquapro International, CRC, Harken, Ports of Auckland, SPARC, and Waiwera Infinity Water. The event also has the assistance of Line 7, Foster & Co, Industry New Zealand, the New Zealand National Maritime Museum and OneWorld Challenge.

TEAMS COMPETING
Australia (2)
Czech Republic (1)
Great Britain (2)
India (2)
Ireland (2)
Japan (2)
The Netherlands (1)
New Zealand (2)
The United States (2)

What is Team Racing?

Many yacht races turn into a procession, and from a spectator’s point of view are either boring, unintelligible, or both. Team racing is quite the opposite.

Team racing uses identical boats and equipment to make racing a true test of skill. The course is close to spectators and is of a style for close tactical racing. Where as in match racing it is one boat against one boat, in team racing it is three boats against three boats, sailing to achieve the best overall team result. The hull and sails of each boat in a team are the same colour, so you can see immediately what the positions are.

Each team tries to reach a winning combination of places, and the lowest score wins.

The scoring system is:
1st place 1.0 point
2nd place 2.0 points
3rd place 3.0 points and so on.

The team that scores 10 points or less is the winner.

A team racer can use a number of possible tactics to improve their team’s position - slow down opposition boats by positioning their boat between the opposition and the wind or use the right of way rules to their advantage to make the opposition change course or incur penalties. Along with these tactical weapons a team racer must also at times have excellent boat speed and ability to manoeuvre efficiently.

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