Lee Trophy and British America Cup Report

19/10/2016


The British Team under the flag of the Royal Thames set out to compete in the Lee Trophy and BA cup held at Seawanhaka Yacht club on Long Island, NY.

First up was the 12th running of the Lee Trophy, an event that the Thames has been a great supporter of and is one of the premier keelboat racing regattas in the US. 9 teams were competing, 8 from all over the USA and the Royal Thames team as the sole overseas club.

The Lee trophy is a three boat team racing event in Sonars and as we had four boats out for the BA cup we had a bit of a ‘squad rotation’ system with our 4th boat sailing in another team. Day 1 was extremely light and not much racing was possible, we got off to a good start with 2 comfortable wins over NYYC and Corinthian YC.  Day 2 was reminiscent of a cold November day in England not the 23 degrees and sunshine that we have become used to in Oyster Bay. A long windy and very rainy day ensued and despite leading all of our races going round the top marks we ended up 3-3 for the day and 5-3 overall which saw us sitting in 4th place overall going into the final day.

The third and final day of the Lee dawned with very strong winds which meant sailing wasn’t possible until the wind eased up in the afternoon. The top four teams headed out for a gold league round robin. We sailed a great set of races with three straight wins. Unfortunately wins carried through from the previous round so we ended up 2nd overall, 1 win behind our BA Cup rivals Seawanhaka but still a pleasing result against fierce competition which had allowed us invaluable time racing in the Sonars.

We then had a day off to enjoy the delights of Manhattan and Long Island before regrouping for a light wind training session on the Wednesday afternoon. The long awaited BA cup (4v4 team racing in Sonars GBR vs USA, first raced in 1921) then began on Thursday 13th October in good light/medium conditions. On this first day the Americans had the upper hand in three very close races which unfortunately included the umpires mistakenly using the wrong flag and penalising a GBR boat. We came in 3-0 down but were reasonably positive with our boat speed and manoeuvres. Day 2 saw even closer racing with the first race of the day decided with a 720 penalty right at the finish line handing victory to the Americans. They went onto take race 5 to open up a 5-0 lead. It was time for us to step up and put something on the board which in race 6 and 7 we did with two impressive victories. At 5-2 the next race was crucial and again came down to the second half of the last beat with the Americans snatching the win on the line to go 6-2 up. After day 2 we were undoubtedly up against it but still feeling good about our speed especially in lighter conditions in which we have historically struggled. The third and final day presented the task of winning 5 races in a row. We began with a very long race in at times barely enough wind to move. We had the upper hand for the majority of a very tricky snakes and ladders race and came away with a win. The wind then completely died off and we were towed out into Long Island Sound in search of new breeze which we quickly found and the 10th race got under way in prefect 8-10 knot conditions. For the first time as a team we nailed the start and had control of the whole race, almost breaking away into a 1,2,3 at the top of the 2nd beat. Unfortunately as with many of the other races a key umpire decision and the final leeward mark left one of our boats spinning back into 8th place which put us on the back foot going onto the last beat and we unfortunately couldn’t get two of their boats to the back and lost to go down 7-3 overall.
We came ashore undoubtedly frustrated as we felt that after going 5-0 down we largely had the upper hand. We had good boat speed throughout especially in the lighter conditions which is definitely a positive but ultimately it probably came down to a 13-0 penalty count against us over the 10 races and being on the back foot in the majority of the starts.

And so ends the 5th series of the British Americas cup with the Americans taking it 3-1 over the 4 matches held in the UK and US. At the awards dinner the challenge was made for a 6th series which was duly accepted by Vice Commodore Bernard Kinchin on behalf of the Royal Thames. The good news is we only have a year to wait until the next one which will again be in Seawanhaka in October 2017. Britain has only once won the BA cup on US soil and that was back in 1924. It’s a great incentive to keep training and carry the momentum forwards to try and make some history and start the new series with a win in 2017. The team would like to thank the huge support that the Royal Thames has given the team both in the build up to and during the event, particularly our team manager Mike Halstead.
 
Sailing for the RTYC/GBR Team Was;
 
Andy Cornah (Capt) Sam Maxfield, Guy Brearey, Sophie Ainsworth, Ben Ainsworth, Hannah Mills, Tom Heywood, Saskia Clark, Sam Littlejohn, Kevin Matthews, Ben Gratton, Toby Yeabsley, Tom Hebbert, Arthur Henderson, Tim Palmer and Duncan Yeabsley.
 
Lee Trophy
 
1st Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club 9 Wins
2nd  Royal Thames Yacht Club 8 Wins
3rd  Noroton Yacht Club 7 Wins
4th Yale Corinthian Yacht Club 6 Wins 4
 5th New York Yacht Club 4 Wins
6th  Corinthian Yacht Club 3 Wins 6 th
7th SRS (SCYC & RTYC Combo Team) 3 Wins
8th Southern Yacht Club 2 Wins
9th  Eastern Yacht Club 0 Wins
 
Ba Cup
USA (Seawanhaka YC) 7 wins
GBR (RTYC) 3 wins