Team Racing at Spinnaker

Spinnaker has been the premier team racing club in the south of England for many years with the Spinnaker All Stars and New Forest Pirates dominating national events and medalling at successive Team Racing World Championships. However with the All Stars and New Forest Pirates moving into retirement there was an opening for a new upstart team. Having competed on the team racing circuit for the last 3+ years for our respective University teams, at the Wilson last year we decided to sail together as a team and have a go at the 2011 ISAF team racing world championships. We approached Spinnaker and were met with a huge amount of enthusiasm and encouragement from many of the members and committee, so with the support of the club we became Spinnaker Auspicious.

The aim was to bring a lot of team racing to Spinnaker creating a World development squad with the ability to invite all the top University team racers to train with us; as well as helping out with the training of a Spinnaker Youth Team. Our first priority was to find three top quality crews for the team.  Mark elected to continue with his BUSA winning crew Isobel Walker from Edinburgh University. Being light, Tom required a larger and more physical crew to be competitive in the kinetics required in top flight team racing and chose Pete Matthews, a charismatic crew, recently graduated from Exeter University.  Finally Toby ‘Tastic’ Lewis agreed to crew for Sam. Toby has a wealth of team racing experience crewing for Steve Tylecote at the 2005 team racing worlds and at the 2007 Endeavour – which they won.

After some great training over the summer at Spinnaker, we began to test ourselves in the Autumn events. First up was a trip to Ireland for the Irish Team Racing nationals held at Scull, Co Cork which is also the venue for the 2011 Team Racing Worlds. It was a good opportunity to check out the location and the new T3.6, a heavy-duty version of the Firefly, specially designed and built for the worlds. The event went well and Spinnaker Auspicious eventually beat Royal Thames in the final to win – a full report can be found on the Spinnaker website.  

Next up on the calendar was the London Six Pack at Wembley sailing club.  It was a great weekend of racing and the light shifty conditions made us feel we were home at Spinnaker.  Auspicious won the event, again beating rivals Royal Thames in the final. The last of the Autumn events was the Bristol Brew. It started well with Auspicious doing enough to make it into the semi finals. However with no wind on Sunday the event was unfortunately not completed.

As well as representing the club we are keen to organise and encourage team racing activity and training at the club.  When the wind makes it through the trees the lake is ideal for team racing, and we encourage as many of you as possible to come and get involved. The team racing worlds has an under 19 division and is a great sport for younger people to get involved with. Not only is team racing perfect practise for your fleet racing skills of starting, rule knowledge and boat handling, it also has a great team feel and is a lot fun. We are really keen to help train a Spinnaker Youth Team so if you are interested and want to be involved get in touch with Geoff Fardell and Tom Clay, or come and speak to us next time we are down training.

Spinnaker Auspicious; Mark Powell / Isobel Walker, Tom Mallindine / Pete Matthews, Sam Littlejohn / Toby Lewis

Spinnaker is home to Southampton University Sailing Club, whose mixed and ladies teams regularly feature in the top 4 in the country. This year the 1st six and their Ladies team both won the British Universities Championships. Other affiliated groups include Canford School who always do well at the schools championships.

Join in & have fun!

The club runs a number of junior teams under the guidance of Tom Clay . These juniors have a formidable reputation, beating many senior and university teams at competitions across the country.

Spinnaker has it’s own fleet of top quality matched boats for team racing which are available for members to use.

What is Team Racing?

For those new to this area of the sport, races are between two teams, and the winning team is the one with the lower total points score in the race (with 1 point for first, 2 for second and so on). Each helm can improve their team’s position during a race either by overtaking one of the opposition’s boats (which for most of us is quite hard) or, far more simply, by slowing down one of the opposition’s boats so that a team mate can overtake. A team racing event comprises a number of short races (typically only 10 to 12 minutes long) with carefully thought out courses to maximise the opportunities for team tactics.

The most common form of team racing is with teams of three boats. Two-boat team racing, where the team with the boat in last place loses is quite popular and is tactically simpler and useful as an introduction to the sport. Individual random two-boat team racing where you are allocated a partner at random for each race is fun and sociable. 

Why do team racing?

Apart from being fun, team racing is an ideal way to sharpen up boat handling skills, close quarter tactics and rules awareness that will win you place after place in tight fleet races, particularly at marks and up that final beat to the finish line.

Ben Ainsle was taught Olympic Gold medal winning team racing tactics by our own Steve Tylecote at a training session before that Sydney Olympic cliff hanger.

Team racing has its own circuit of competitions (largely in the winter months when the usual open circuit for class fleet races is all but dead) where many of the events even provide the boats for you to sail, so there is no trailing your craft across the countryside.

Team racing is the main University sailing sport and our younger sailors who go on to University will have the advantage of being front runners to represent their college. The University sailing scene is fast, furious and fun. Many Spinnaker youngsters have been selected as captain of their University Team.

Spinnaker has it’s own fleet of top quality matched boats for team racing which are available for members to use.