Sixteen teams competed at the finals from an original entry of 48.
The RYA National Team Racing Championships is a three boat event open to any club, class or association in the British Isles and the standard of the qualifying teams was extremely high. Both the British teams for the forthcoming ISAF World Championship were present along with a number of teams composed of those who just missed out on selection. A number of top youth sailors including the Campbell-James brothers and some of the favourites for the British Universities Championships next week also had their eye on the Prince Phillip Trophy and the title of 2001 RYA National Team Racing Champions.
The format of the final weekend was two sets of leagues of, before moving to a knockout competition for the top four teams on Sunday afternoon. The weather throughout the weekend was extremely variable, ranging from 20-30 knots necessitating the use of small sails on Saturday morning to 5-10 knots and sun for most of Sunday.
The first league round split the 16 teams into 2 groups of 8. League A was dominated by Spinnaker Exiles, a team composed of sailors who had just missed out of qualifying for the worlds teams, and the host club West Kirby. GBR1, also known as Spinnaker, as all the team members are from the Spinnaker Club near Ringwood, won all their races in League B. The top three teams from each of League A and League B then formed a gold league to fight for three of the semi final places. 4th and 5th from the leagues and one of the 6th place teams made up the silver league, with the winner of the silver league becoming the 4th semi final qualifier. The other teams raced each other in the beer league for the obvious prize of some bottles of beer.
GBR 1 (Spinnaker) continued their winning ways to dominate the gold fleet by winning all their races. West Kirby and Spinnaker Exiles were 2nd and 3rd and therefore also qualified for the semi finals. GBR 2 who only come fourth in their league in the 1st round were back on form and dominated the silver fleet to secure the 4th semi final place. University College Dublin Exiles went back to Ireland happy, having won every race in the beer league.
The first semi final took place between GBR 1 (Spinnaker) and West Kirby and was dominated by the world championship team who sailed away to a safe 1, 2 combination in both races.
The second semi final saw a very tight first race with Spinnaker Exiles snatching the race on the finish line. The second race saw the Exiles team ruthlessly grind down GBR 2 until they had established a safe winning position and therefore booked their spot in the final.
With a large crowd lining the lake shore, and brilliant sunshine, a classic final was in prospect and the spectators were not disappointed. Race 1 of the final was tense, but GBR 1 (Spinnaker) followed the formbook and kept a 1, 3 winning combination to the finish. It looked all over for Spinnaker Exiles at the start of the second race when Simon Shaw /Georgie Corlett were early. However a collision between the two team captains just prior to the first mark changed the race completely. Roger Morris/Jane Stamp of the Exiles team screamed for the umpire and were rewarded with the sight of a red flag being pointed at GBR 1s Stuart Hudson/Amy Smith. Whilst Hudson was doing his penalty turns, Exiles converted to 1st and 2nd and took the race.
With the final now evenly balanced at one race each, the wind decided to fall away, leading to a very tense final race. Spinnaker Exiles found inspiration from somewhere and rounded the first mark with with 1st, 4th and 5th. However, as all good team racers know this is the most difficult combination to defend and GBR 1 (Spinnaker) were not going to give up. They tried every move in the book, but Exiles were determined to hang on and they were rewarded with a 1, 3, 5 win at the finishing line to the delight of the watching crowd.
The next focus for the countries team racers is the British Open team racing championships, the famous 'Wilson Trophy' which this year will be attracting an amazing 6 US teams for the weekend as well as teams from several European countries. The GBR 1 and GBR 2 teams will be getting back into 420 sailing in their quest to win the 4th ISAF team racing world championship to be sailed at Brno in the Czech Republic between August the 18th and 25th.