New York Yacht Club's Silver Panda found themselves in a familiar position on Sunday at the final round of the US Team Racing Championship.
Silver Panda won their fourth Hinman Trophy in five years and their record fifth overall. After losing in the final series last year to Team Extreme, 3-2, they won this year's finale over the perennial power house from Great Britain, the West Kirby Hawks.
The final series was deadlocked at 2-2. Due to darkness and significant wind shifts, the fifth and deciding race could not be finished. They started race five in a southerly wind, but during the sequence a northerly pushed down the lake. The race was immediately blown off at that point. This type of wind shift is not uncommon on Lake Union. Light southerlies ruled most of the day. The shifty winds required a lot of course adjustments.
Silver Panda won this US SAILING Adult National Championship in 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2002. They qualify for the United States at the 2011 ISAF Team Racing World Championship next August in Ireland
Silver Panda, the 2009 ISAF Team Racing World Champions
, returned four of the six competitors from last year, including Amanda Callahan, Colin Merrick, Peter Levesque, and Carrie Amarante. They were joined this year by Clay Bischoff and Caroline Hall Levesque.
"Against such a talented fleet, this is a great accomplishment. So many races were decided by inches,"
said Bischoff. "We needed to communicate well and sail with patience. We really put our fleet racing skills to use."
The 2009 Wilson Trophy winners, the West Kirby Hawks, sailed with the same six sailors from that championship, including Ben Field, Dom Johnson, and Andy Corhah. They were 5-2 in the final round and 12-8 in the round robins. They were participating in their first U.S. Team Racing Championship.
Last year's champions, Team Extreme finished third after defeating the Woonsocket Rockets 2-0 in the petit finals. They were 4-3 in the final round and a fleet best 19-1 in the round robins.
The US Team Racing Championship routinely attracts the top teams in the country. Sixteen teams representing three countries sailed Vanguard 15s on Lake Union for three days of racing.
Team racing is a unique form of racing. In each match, two teams of three boats are pitted against each other on an "N" shaped course. It is the cumulative points of all three boats that determine the winning team, which may or may not include the winning boat.
The 2010 US Team Racing Championship was hosted by the Seattle Yacht Club and the Center for Wooden Boats. The event is sponsored by Rolex Watch USA, LaserPerformance, Dry Creek Vineyard, and Gill North America. Please visit the event web site for final results, daily reports, photo galleries, Sailgroove videos, and more Event website