Team Racing typically consists of two teams each of three boats competing against each other. It is a fast paced racing style which depends on excellent boat handling skills and rapid tactical decision making.
The teams will race to try and achieve a winning combination of places - the lowest score wins. The scoring system is 1 for first place, 2 for second and so on. If one boat in the team wins the race they are not guaranteed glory as their combined score must be ten or less to win - 2,3,5 = 10 points v 1,4,6 = 11 points
If a team is lying in 1,4,6 then the boat in first place will go back and try to help his team mates through to 2,3,5 or better. How does he do this?
A team racer has two main weapons. Firstly, he can position his boat between the wind and his opponent, thus blanketing his sails and slowing him down. Secondly he can use the right of way rules to his advantage, approaching his opponent in such as way that his adversary has to change course or incur a penalty. Both these weapons are deployed before the start when the manoeuvres begin, with all six boats performing an intricate and aggressive dance to try and gain the advantage.
The racing is followed by umpires on the water who issue on the spot penalties. If a boat is protested agains by another boat they can accept it and perform a 360 degree penalty turn straight away or wait for the umpires to give a decision which may result in a green flag (no penalty) or a 720 degree turn.
The ISAF Team Racing World Championship uses a standard format of racing in two person dinghies with three boats in a team.
The boats are usually supplied by the event organizers who try to ensure they are as evenly matched as possible.
Many clubs begin team racing using a pairs format whereby two teams of two boats each are racing. The rules are simple as the team whose boat finishes last loses.
The first major international team racing event started in 1921 with the first British-American series sailed in 6M yachts, four a side. In 1933, the International 14 class began a multi-nation series that continues to this day. In the 1940s and and the 1950s the growth of the one design dinghy helped team racing grow as an affordable and entertaining way to enjoy sailing.
Team Racing is the bedrock of colllegiate sailing with very competitive university circuits in most of the world's leading sailing nations. Many former student teams continue to sail together independently or under club burgees.
Since 1949, West Kirby Sailing Club hosted the Wilson Trophy and pioneered innovations such as on the water umpiring and the use of colour coded boats and sails.
In 1995 West Kirby ran the first ever IYRU Team Racing World Championship which is now an established bi-annual event in the sailing calendar.