Friday, May 27, 2011

ICSA National Championships Are On! Starting today: APS/ICSA Team Race Nationals

The ICSA National Championships are on! Big congratulations go out to URI for winning the Sperry Top-Sider/ICSA Women's National Championship! Connecticut College took second, and St. Mary's College of Maryland finished third.

Conditions have been challenging this year in the Columbia River Gorge with rain and light winds at the start of the regatta, but the wind has been building. Today marks the start of the APS/ICSA Team Race Nationals. APS Web Manager Katie C. gives a little background on the mechanics of the sport. Good luck today, racers!

P.S. These photos are from last year's event. For this year, just think a little more gray, a little more mist, and mountains!)


Where you don’t need to be in first to win, team racing combines boat handling, tactics, and a modified set of the RRS to create high intensity, exciting racing. Team racing combines the team aspect that’s lost in every other kind of sailing. It’s a chance to work together with two other boats to out sail and outsmart the other team.

For those who are unfamiliar with team racing, it consists of two teams with three boats on either side. Scores are done by place; 1st place is 1 point, 2nd is 2 points, etc. In order to win, your team must have 10 points or less. As you sail throughout the course, you must always have in the back of your head your team’s combination. Winning combinations include; 1,2 anything, 1,3 anything, and 2,3,5.

Each team has their own style and plan on the course. Teams work together to finish in the right positions to win. For every leg, there is a different tactic you want to use, and depending on the team and competitors, changes for each. For instance, some teams chose to tail at the start, essentially mimicking every move of their opponent in an effort to drive them from the start line… and hopefully rattle them a bit before the start. While others decide to start in a more conservative fashion and split up on the line. One boat starts at the committee boat, one in the middle, and one at the pin in order to get on the line without covering their teammate.

No matter what your starting tactics are, once the gun goes off, it’s an all out battle. During any given leg, boats can cover others even to the point of luffing their jib to give the leeward boat bad wind, allowing a slower teammate to catch up and pass. Mark roundings are always a bit more interesting, and mark traps are set. If there is an opponent in between you and your teammate, the first boat can put themselves in a position close to the mark where the opposing team must sail to windward of them, the leeward boat takes them head to wind, allowing their teammate to pass both boats.


In team racing, it’s a necessity to know the rules. There’s no room for error when you’re trying to use them against the other team. In case you’ve never checked out Appendix D of your Racing Rules of Sailing, there’s a whole separate section dedicated to team racing. Here rules are modified or deleted to allow you to pull off these high tech maneuvers. These rule changes include: Ability to take an opponent head to wind when you are the leeward boat (as opposed to in fleet racing where you can’t take them above close hauled), rule 18.4 is deleted (inside boat must gybe at a mark to sail her proper course), a finished boat may not interfere with a racing boat, and finally the zone is changed back to two boat lengths.

It’s an exciting way to move around a race course. Working together with teammates, you learn their skills and weaknesses and able to balance those out among the group. Through different types of plays like in any sport, team racing offers fast paced, exciting racing. The Gorge is bound to throw some interesting conditions at the racers, where in addition to all of the team race strategies and tactics, there’s also ripping currents and typically strong breeze to compete with. Should be a fun few days of racing, and we hope you take a look at the coverage and see the top of collegiate sailing battle it out.

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