West Kirby Hawks...again
West Kirby Hawks retained their title of national team racing champions in two days of exciting competition at Spinnaker Club this weekend, fighting off competition from Spinnaker Auspicious, Oxford University and their local rivals West Kirby SC.
Despite being greeted with no wind on Saturday morning, the RYA National Team Racing Championships finally got underway at midday with the 24 teams sailing in three leagues of eight. The race committee decided to push on with the racing and had completed these leagues by the end of Saturday. Despite the shifty conditions and inconsistent wind strength, West Kirby Hawks dominated their league, winning all seven of their races with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Overnight on Saturday, Oxford University were also on seven wins out of seven, whilst in the third league Spinnaker Auspicious and Southampton Male Voice Choir were tied on 6 wins out of 7 with SMVC coming out on top in the race between them.
On Sunday, teams were sorted into leagues of 6 teams based on their results from Saturday. As well as the league leaders mentioned above, the SuperGold league contained West Kirby SC, The Gladiators and a visiting team from the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dublin.
Once again West Kirby Hawks produced an almost flawless display winning all five of their races, with 1st and 2nd place. The rest of the racing in the league was incredibly close and who would make the semi-finals was still in the balance as Spinnaker Auspicious went into the last race against The Gladiators. If Spinnaker lost, West Kirby (on 3 wins) would have finished 2nd in the league with SMVC and Spinnaker in 3rd and 4th place on 2 wins each. However if they won, it would be Spinnaker Auspicious in 2nd, with West Kirby and Oxford University (also on 2 wins) in 3rd and 4th place. Despite a heroic effort from the Irish (who had thoroughly enjoyed the rugby on Saturday evening, but were confident the celebrations hadn’t affected their sailing ability) Spinnaker came out on top, setting up a semi-final with West Kirby SC.
Before the semi-finals Oxford University went into a repechage against Warwick University who had triumphed in the Gold League winning all five of their races against West Kirby Youth, Cambridge University 2nds, Rutland Raiders and two teams representing Royal Thames Yacht Club. Despite Warwick University winning the first race against Oxford with 1st, 2nd and 5th places, Oxford won the next two and went on to win the repechage 2-1. The close racing showed how exciting the BUSA Team Racing finals are going to be which is also happening at Spinnaker Sailing Club in two weeks’ time.
In the semi-finals, West Kirby Hawks once again showed us how team racing should be done, beating Oxford University 2-0. The second semi-final was much closer and a breakdown in the first race for one of the West Kirby sailors meant that they went from a winning combination to a losing combination on the last beat. Despite the Race Committee giving redress, a resail was not required as Spinnaker Auspicious went on to win the 2nd and 3rd races to earn their place in the RYA National Team Racing Championships final against the Hawks.
In the petit-final, West Kirby SC beat Oxford University 2-0 so claimed third place. The final produced some very dramatic racing, and each race could have gone either way up the final beat, but West Kirby Hawks proved too strong for much younger Spinnaker Auspicious team and the best-of-five final was won 3-0.
At the prize giving, Dom Johnson praised Auspicious for their valiant effort and conceded that the score-line flattered the Hawks and the racing was much closer than the results would suggest. Auspicious are hoping to give the Hawks a run for their money at the world selections trials on 9th-10th April at West Kirby, competing to win the chance to represent GBR at the World Championships in Ireland this summer. But given the superb sailing in tricky conditions displayed by the Hawks this weekend they are sure to be clear favourites.
Our thanks go out to Spinnaker Club for hosting another fantastic event, to Oxford and Southampton Universities for lending their boats, to the race officials and numerous other people who gave up their time and effort to ensure a successful event
|1||West Kirby Hawks||2||Spinnaker Auspicious|
|Dom Johnson and Debs Steele, Ben Field and Tom Foster, Andy Cornah and Hamish Walker||Mark Powell and Izzy Walker, Tom Mallindine and Peter Matthews, Sam Littlejohn and Toby Lewis|
|3||West Kirby||4||Oxford 1|
|5||Southampton Male Voice Choir||6||The Gladiators (Royal St George)|
|7||Warwick||8||Royal Thames Blue|
|9||Royal Thames Red||10||Cambridge 2|
|11||Rutland Raiders||12||West Kirby Youth|
|13||Bristol 1||14||Oxford 2|
|19||Magdalen College School||20||Plymouth 2nd|
|21||University of Liverpool||22||Bath|
|23||Plymouth 1st||24||University of Manchester SC|