The 2004 Smart Wilson Trophy, the premier Team Racing event in the World was won by Spinnaker Sailing Club. West Kirby Sailing Club again provided an excellent weekend of racing for each of the 32 competing teams.
The event was sailed in the Clubs own fleet of Firefly's, which they especially keep for the event. Again this enclave of the North West of England provided perfect weather for sailing and spectators alike. Sunshine and a gentle force two.
The Race Committee managed to fit fifteen races for each team before the cut for the Quarter Finals was made; it was the New Forest Pirates who topped the leader board. The top eight teams consisted of New Forest Pirates, Spinnaker Sailing Club, Imperial Poona, Whishbone (USA), Silver Panda (USA), New York Yacht Club (USA), Itchenor Exiles and The Ungrateful Colonists (USA) making up the Quarter Finals.
There was a six way tie for the final place in the Quarter Finals, showing how tight the racing had been all weekend.
It is testament to the organisation of West Kirby Sailing Club that 240 races had been sailed before the Quarter final cut. All competitors are housed for the weekend by members, with an army of members helping to provide food and help with the launching and recovery of the boats; this is indeed a huge team effort, which is pulled off with consummate ease and professionalism. Mention must be made about the team of Umpires that make on-the-water decisions to make the racing quicker and more intense. Umpires have been assembled from across the globe, with twenty-one Umpires in total, without them we would not have a sport.
Quarter Finals, New Forest Pirates won their match against the Ungrateful Colonists. Spinnaker beat Itchenor Exiles, who led in the Swiss League for most of the first day of racing. Imperial Poona Yacht club were knocked out by New York Yacht Club, the hosts of the ISAF World Team Racing Championships in 2005 to be held at Rhode Island USA. Finally Silver Panda from the USA beat their fellow countrymen Wishbone (the current ISAF Team Racing World Champions). The line up for the Semi-finals was New Forest Pirates against Silver Panda and New York Yacht Club against the Spinnaker Club.
New Forest Pirates dispatched with Silver Panda, easily winning 2-0, Spinnaker then beat New York Yacht Club in similarly emphatic fashion, to set up an all UK final.
The final for the 2004 Smart Wilson Trophy was between Spinnaker in White and New Forest Pirates in Black, with a perfect force 2-3 Northerly breeze. Spinnaker took an early 1, 3 lead off the start. The course had been extended to give viewing to all the many spectators on the promenade. At the first mark Pirates take a 1,4,5 lead, but the last four boats were all very close. The 6th place boat from Spinnaker missed the mark giving Pirates more time, but Pirates take a voluntary spin at on the top reach. The race then stretched on the run to a Pirates 1,4,5.
All action at the bottom of the run, Stuart HUSDSON spinning within two boat lengths to distract the Spinnaker boats. The New Forest Pirates were then pushed back to 1,4,6 but the race was still very close. Spinnaker in 2,3 blocking Pirates into 5,6. Spinnaker now in 2,3,4 with 200 metres to go, race one to Spinnaker.
Race two and Spinnaker with a clean 1,2 off the line, one of the Pirates was given an umpire enforced 720 degree turn. Spinnaker looked to covert to an early 1,2,3. At the top mark Spinnaker held a 1,2 with Pirates in 3,4 and close enough to blanket down the run. Pirates go for the high-low tactic down the run, Pirates move closer to second but Spinnaker hold the 1,4,5 across the bottom reach. At the finish Spinnaker win 1,3,6 to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five final.
Race of of the final; a must win race for Pirates if they were to go on to win the 2004 Wilson Trophy, one more win needed for Spinnaker to take the Trophy.
Expert commentary provided by Ken LEGLAR, giving all the spectators an understanding of the ongoing racing. David ELLIS sailed down the line and crossed the fleet on port tack giving Spinnaker an early lead. Pirates hold both sides of the course, with the race still even half way up the beat. Pirates hold 1,3,6 but it is still too close to call on the first leg.
Onto the run, Spinnaker move into a 1,3,5 lead with all parties gybing to try and gain maximum advantage. Spinnaker moving into a 1,2 combination at the bottom mark.
Spinnaker take the Smart 2004 Wilson Final 3-0 over The New Forest Pirates, to take the Wilson Trophy for the fifth time.
Congratulations to the Spinnaker club and to all those involved, another great event, roll on 2005.
There is nothing quite like the Wilson in the Team Racing calendar, great thanks to Smart Car who provided the sponsorship, we look forward to making 2005 an even better event!
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.