The 2007 ISAF Team Racing World Championship kicks off in Gandia, Spain this weekend with the USA set to defend their title.
The USA will be represented by the finalists of the 2006 US Team Racing Championship, Silver Panda and Larchmont Yacht Club, but 2005 World Champions Team Whishbone will be absent.
The Silver Panda team of Clay BISCHOFF, Lisa KEITH, Peter LEVESQUE, Elizabeth HALL, Colin MERRICK and Amanda CALLAHAN will start as favourites for the title after a brilliant run of form over the past year. The team beat their arch rivals Team Whishbone in the semi-finals on their way to winning the Hinman Trophy (the US Team Racing Championship trophy) in 2006, won gold at the 2006 ISAF World Sailing Games in Austria, and twice beat Team Whishbone in the final to win the Wilson Trophy (for the British Open Team Racing Championships) in 2006 and again this year in May.
Lining up to challenge the Americans are two teams from the hosts Spain, as well as two from Great Britain, Ireland and Australia. New Zealand, Japan and Italy also all have one team apiece. The under 21 competition, debuting at this year's championship, will be contested between Great Britain, Spain, Ireland and Australia.
The Real Club Nautico Gandia will host the 2007 ISAF Team Racing worlds. Overlooked by the clubhouse, Gandia's port, the breakwater and marina will form an amphitheatre, providing spectators with a spectacular view of this spectacular sailing discipline.
With short courses, races-a-plenty and frenetic action guaranteed, team racing is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Gandia should provide conditions similar to those faced by the America's Cup teams a little further south along the Mediterranean coast at Valencia. A 6-8 knot northeasterly sea breeze starts around 11:00, moving round to a southwesterly and building up to 16 knots through the day. With weather conditions between 22-26°C and sunny blue skies, the late September date will provide the ideal bridge between the end of the European team racing season and the start of racing down under.
With the racing area sheltered by the breakwater and marina, the courses have little waves or swell - ideal conditions for team racing.