RTYC Academy at The Wilson


Two Royal Thames Academy teams travelled to West Kirby for the 2015 Wilson Trophy, the British Open Championship, regarded as the highlight of the dinghy team racing calendar. Both GBR 1 (West Kirby Hawks) and GBR 2 (Royal Forth Hoosiers) teams for the ISAF Team Racing World Championships this July were joined by those narrowly missing out on selection at the hotly contested qualifying event earlier in the season, as well as a raft dangerous old hands and overseas challengers. Royal Thames was strongly represented by Academy members past and present, with no fewer than 10 teams including academicians.

With racing underway after lunch on Friday in steady drizzle, the Royal Thames Red team (Fiona Hampshire, Honor Fell, Greg Hall, Lilly Carlisle, Ben Gratton and Ben Rahemtulla) made the stronger start despite losing their first race, with good wins against the British Olympic team, hosts West Kirby and Cambridge (the second GBR reserve team for the World Champs in July), moving to 4 wins from 5 on the first evening. Royal Thames Blue started slowly, finishing 2 from 5 overnight with a close win over Royal Dee YC (2013 Wilson Finalists) contrasting narrow losses to Royal Forth Hoosiers and Yale Corinthian.

Racing began on schedule at 8 o'clock the folllowing morning. Again Royal Thames Red made a strong start, with two regulation wins followed by a very tight win on the finish line against leaders West Kirby Hawks, putting them on 7 wins from 8 and on top of the leaderboard. In a strengthening afternoon breeze, they struggled, with some close losses seing them move to 9 from 16 after 224 races completed by the end of the second day. Royal Thames Blue struggled to find consistency, ending the day 7 from 15. After nearly 10 hours of continuous racing through the day in breezes topping 20 kts, a frantic turn around and a fantastic Wilson Dinner followed.

Sunday morning saw Royal Thames Red needing to regain their momentum of 24 hours previous, and pick up three or four wins to secure a quarter final berth. After starting strongly by beating the National Firefly Association (including several 1995 Team Racing World Champions), they struggled to close out the crunch races and finished up 11 wins from 22, one race win away from the knockout stage. Royal Thames Blue needed a strong final day to mount a late charge, but again struggled with consistency, winning 3 comfortable races before dropping others, to finish with 10 race wins from 22- a disappointing return.

The whole event was typified by close, challenging racing, and the margins were vanishingly slim: a mere two race win gap between the teams placed 8th and 23rd is amongst the closest in memory! This all goes to show the present good health of the UK team racing circuit, and both Royal Thames teams will be back next year to improve their returns. Congratulations go to all Royal Thames members competing at the Wilson Trophy, particularly ex-academicians Andy Cornah and Ben Field of West Kirby Hawks (the eventual winners) and Jon Pinner of Wessex Exempt (the losing finalists). We look forward to seeing you all again next year!