Wilson Trophy opening day blown out
If the Wilson Trophy were a speed sailing event, then today would have been perfect with sunshine and 20+ knot winds this afternoon . Unfortunately with the wind gusting up to 36 knots in the morning, racing was unable to take place at West Kirby Sailing Club’s British Open Team Racing Championship, despite one false start at 1600.
“It dropped to mid-20s and continued to drop and then when I announced to the competitors that we’d go, we had had 20 minutes of 14-15 knots - so sailable conditions - then unfortunately it came back up,” explained Principle Race Officer, Adam Whittle. “Yesterday when the tide turned, the wind went as well and I thought it would do the same today and the Hilbre forecast said it was dropping, but unfortunately that wasn’t what happened.”
Racing will now commence at 0800 tomorrow when conditions are looking more sedate with 10 knots forecast and sunshine. “In the history of doing two and a half days we have never lost a half day, so it is a shame,” said Whittle.
At the Wilson Trophy the great and good of team racing are reluctantly filling their time at West Kirby Sailing Club’s bar. Among them is Steve Tylecote, author of Team Racing For Sailboats, who has competed at this event around 22 times and who reckons he’s won it six or seven times.
“It is a tough call with a very, very enthusiastic bunch of sailors here,” he said of the lack of play today. “The Race Officer can never win – do they get lynched by the sailors or the owners of the boats? If it was the end of the regatta and we were in the knock-out phase, they would have gone sailing with reefed mains. One of the things they could consider is racing without jibs as well, but they have never done that here yet.”
Tylecote is competing with the Rutland Raiders, a local team from Rutland with a line-up that includes former Olympic Finn turned Musto Skiff sailor, Richard Stenhouse.
Making the trip across the Emerald Isle is Darragh O’Connor, a helm with the Howth Yacht Club team. This is only O’Conner’s second participation at the Wilson Trophy although he wishes he’d been able to come more. “I was asked four or five times over university to do it, but it always clashed with college exams. I finally finished college a couple of years ago and I have been doing it ever since and hopefully I’ll be back for a lot more.”
Only two of the six-strong line-up are Howth Yacht Club members, but O’Connor says they sail a lot out of that club, which also kindly put up some money to help send them across from Ireland to compete at West Kirby this weekend. Last year O’Connor’s team narrowly missed out on reaching the quarter finals. “We hope to step it up this year and if we get to the quarter finals we’ll be very happy.”
Personally O’Connor heralds from Schull in West Cork, which is where the ISAF Team Racing World Championship was held last year. Schull has this year sent a youth team to the Wilson Trophy.
As to not racing today, he agrees with the ultimate call not to go. “It is better to have good racing than forced. It takes away from team racing and puts it into survival mode.”