The 2001 Nextra ISAF World Team Racing Championship will kick off tomorrow on Lake Brno in the Czech Republic. Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, representing the centre of Moravia.
The host club is Lodni Sporty Brno. 2 years of preparation and planning have gone into the event so that it will run as smoothly as possible.
It's the fourth ISAF World Team Racing Championship to be held. Previously the events were held at West Kirby in Great Britain in 1995, Miami, Florida in the USA in 1998, and then Dun Laoghaire, Ireland in 1999. The host nations have historically been very successful with Great Britain winning in 1995 and the USA (their second team) winning in 1998. The defending champions here are New Zealand, who won in 1999.
The event is clearly growing in size and stature. The number of teams entered increases every year from 12 in 1995, to 14 in 1998, to 18 in 1999, and this year there are 21 teams entered from 15 different nations. Including several countries that are new to the event, that is Yugoslavia, Slovakia, Japan and Indonesia. Australia, The Czech Republic, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan and the USA have all the sent the maximum of two teams.
What Is Team Racing?
Firstly the racing takes place on identical boats, sails and equipment (420's here), making the racing a true test of the skills of the helmsman and crews. Additionally the dinghies race in teams of three boats, sailing to achieve the best overall team results. Here the hull and sails of each boat are the same colour, so you can see immediately what the positions are. The team with the lowest score wins the heat. The scoring system is 1st = 1 point, 2nd = 2 points, 3rd = 3 points, etc. So that a team that scores ten points or less are the winners. For example if a team is lying in 1-4-6, then the leading boat will go and help his team mates to achieve positions of 2-3-5 or better.
The team racer has two main weapons. Firstly he can position his boat between the wind and his opponent, thus slowing him by giving him 'dirty air'. Secondly he can use the right of way rules to his advantage, trying to cause the other boat to make and infringement so they have to take a penalty. The penalty is to either make a 360 degree turn, or 720 degree turn, depending upon the case, and this slows the opposition down. There will be on the water jury's here to give on the water decisions about infringements.
Racing will begin on Monday 20 August and continue through until Saturday 25 August. The opening ceremony will take place this evening at 19.00 hours.
Equipment and Minimum Weight
Racing will take place in 420's supplied by the organisers, with no trapezes and no spinnakers to be used. There is also a minimum weight limit of 130 kg for the crew of two people. If the crew are under weight they must carry lead on their boat, and the minimum weight can be checked at any point during the regatta.
The course to be sailed here is a windward leg, with the first mark to starboard, then a short beam reach leaving the next mark to starboard, then a downwind, leaving the next mark to port, then a reach leaving the next mark to port, and then upwind to the finish line.
Chairman of the Jury
Chief Umpire and Chairman of the International Jury is John Doerr (GBR), he has attended all three of the previous ISAF World Team Racing Championships, and he said this about team racing and the event.
"Team Racing is the most exciting form of racing because of the close manoeuvres, and the high skills that the crews need to perform the manoeuvres whilst being aware of their opposition. It's also the best for spectators in that visually it's the best to watch. The venues are selected with the spectators in mind."
And about the hosts,"A big effort has been made here to put on what will be a world class event and our hosts are being very hospitable here in Brno."
The temperature here is around 30 degrees Celsius during the day, and there has been light winds for the last few days, but this afternoon the wind has increased to 8-10 knots. The teams are out on the water doing practice races today, and every one is looking forward to the opening ceremony tonight at 19.00 hours, and the start of the event tomorrow at 11.00 hours.
Once the racing begins the event website will be updated frequently with news of what is happening on the water.