The 59th edition of the Wilson Trophy team racing event will be hosted by the West Kirby Sailing Club in the Wirral, Great Britain this weekend.
Thirty-two teams, including teams from the USA, Canada and Ireland as well as all over Great Britain will descend on the Marine Lake for the weekend, over which a staggering 300 races will take place.
The competition, known as the British Open Team Racing Championships, has long attracted the best team racing teams in the world to travel hundreds of miles to compete. Five of the world-class teams who competed at last year's biannual ISAF Team Racing World Championship
will be racing, as will the current World Champions, Silver Panda, who will also be defending the 2007 Wilson Trophy.
The annual event, which first took place in 1947, is sailed in two-man Firefly dinghies provided by West Kirby Sailing Club. The boats, which are matched trios of colour-coded dinghies, make spectating from the grandstand beside the Marine Lake easy, with expert commentary provided. Each of the boats is kindly sponsored by several locally-based companies, such as Buckley Industrial, as well as global companies such as Carlsberg and Musto. After a round robin in which all of the teams will race against one another, the weekend culminates in the top eight teams taking part in the quarter finals, with winners going through to semis, followed by finals. The identical boats, sails and equipment make team racing a true test of the sailors skills. Team racing has been likened to playing chess on the water, with crews using tactics and the rules of sailing to gain advantages over the opposing team.
Two under-21 teams will take part in this year's event, local team the Hilbre Highlanders and Cambridgeshire-based Grafham Gremlins. As well as attracting several international teams, there are four West-Kirby based teams taking part; the Wirral Waders, the West Kirby HAWKS, who competed at last year's World Championships, West Kirby Sailing Club, headed up by local sailor Andy BRYSON, and FPC, who include three well-known West Kirby team racers, Paul KAMEEN, Leo DIXON and Penny ROBINSON.
Next year, the 60th annual Wilson Trophy will be hosted by West Kirby Sailing Club. The committee plans to run a three day celebratory event over the May Day Bank holiday weekend.
This year's first race is due to begin at 08:00 Saturday 10 May, and will run through to the finals likely to be approximately 15:00 Sunday 11 May.
For more information, and live results, please visit: www.wksc.net/wilsontrophy
ISAF Team Racing microsite - www.sailing.org/teamracing