Monday, June 1, 2009

APS/ICSA Team Race Nationals

For the uninitiated, team racing is just that. Two teams of boats race against each other in a head to head competition whereby the team with the lowest combined finishing score wins. In the case of college sailing the format is 3 boats versus 3 boats. As one can imagine this makes for some of the most intense and strategic racing there is with an emphasis on every aspect of sailing one can imagine. In fact, the often used analogy of sailboat racing being like a game of chess is a vast understatement for this genre of competition. If that's fleet racing, team racing is more like playing a game of chess in your lap while racing. Allow me to use a run-on sentence to demonstrate... Not only must you start perfectly, catch the first shift, and go the right way there's also all the strategy of positioning yourself and controlling your opponents while being absolutely perfect with your boat handling and keeping in mind where your teammates are and whether or not you can help them help you win. A bit like learning perfect grammar, a whole mess of practice, coordination, and many late night ruminations on the subject are necessary to win and there's no better place to get that than in college.

Here at APS we're big fans of college, the ICSA (Intercollegiate Sailing Association), and team racing. Heck, following college sailing is the closest thing we get to March Madness and that is why we're proud supporters of the ICSA and title sponsors of the annual APS/ICSA Team Race Nationals . So where am I going with this? Well, this past weekend 14 of college sailing's best team racing teams took to the chilly waters of San Francisco to battle it out it to be crowned the 2009 APS/ICSA Team Race Champions. Tucked in a cove on the lee side of Treasure Island teams of three in colored sail FJs raced their way around a digitial N course in a round robin format set up to determine a Final Four and ultimately college sailing's team race champion.


To begin on Friday, the 14 teams were randomly divided into two groups. From there a round robin within the groups was sailed to determine a Gold and Silver fleet based on team's total wins from the first round. Proving just how tight the competition was after the first round there were four teams, Yale, SUNY, Stanford, and USF, each tied with 3 wins and 3 losses for the bubble position of the Gold fleet. An 8 race sail off between them was needed to determine who would go where and by the end it was Yale, SUNY, and Stanford who had made the cut. Saturday the Silver fleet sailed a one round consolation series while the Gold fleet began the first of two full round robins. By the end of the day USF had won the Silver fleet and the Gold fleet had made it to race 18 with a few races left to sail Sunday morning to determine the Final Four.

Sunday dawned cold and gray with the lightest breezes of the event but that didn't mean the racing wasn't hot. With legendary Tufts coach Ken Legler providing color commentary over a loud speaker for those ashore spectating the teams took to the water and after just over 2 days of tight racing, including a few last minute incredible come from behind wins, the competition was narrowed down to the top 4 teams, Yale, BC, St. Mary's (my and Kyle's Alma mater...go Hawks!), and Georgetown. While I was fortunate enough to be there representing APS unfortunately scheduling (read the cheapest flight of the day to get me back in the office this morning) meant I wasn't able to watch the Final Four. However, some tech savy sailors using Web 2.0 meant I was able to follow the event Twitters between connecting flights. Upon touch down in Philadelphia for a plane change I learned it was Boston College who in the end pulled out the win to be named the 2009 APS/ICSA Team Race National Champions. Congrats BC!

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