Britain takes victory from USA in British-American Cup

First British win of oldest prize in keelboat team racing since 1999

First British win of oldest prize in keelboat team racing since 1999 Queen Mary Sailing Club, West London More than a decade of American domination was reversed this weekend when the British-American Cup, the oldest prize in keelboat team racing, was won by the British Team – the first British victory since 1999. The final result was seven races to two, achieved by the four Royal Thames Yacht Club skippers who led the team: Andy Cornah, Ben Field, Mark Lees and Jon Pinner.

The British were competing against Team USA from Seawanhaka Corinthian YC, led by skipper Dean Brenner. The racing, which was held at Queen Mary Sailing Club, was organized by the Royal Thames Yacht Club.

The British-American Cup competition was first raced in 1922 and claims to be the oldest organized keelboat team racing event in the sport. The first Cup was presented by Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club for an international challenge to be raced in Six Meters. The event has been held biennially since that date. 2008 saw BACUP_1177the USA Team, defending the Cup on their home waters of Oyster Bay, Long Island Sound, taking their fourth consecutive victory to bring the Fourth Series of the competition to an end after 16 matches. Rather than see the event die, the Royal Thames Yacht Club challenged the USA to a Fifth Series and put up a new British-American Cup. The Fifth Series will be contested in three matches, 2010, 2012 at Oyster Bay, and 2014 in the UK.

In team racing, each boat scores a point equivalent to its finishing position, with the race going to the team with the fewer number of total points. There are 36 points available in each race and a vital skill is knowing instinctively which place-combinations carry 17 or fewer points. The ability to sail slow and block an opponent – thus letting team mates through to better positions – can be as important as the ability to sail fast. Most international team racing is three-on-three over short courses with races lasting about 12 minutes; the British American Cup – considered the pinnacle of keelboat team racing – is unusual in calling for teams of four boats a side, sailed over longer courses and with races lasting 40 minutes. The tournament allows for up to 13 of such races, spread over three days, with the match going to the first team to win seven races.

Racing began on Friday 29th October, with four races sailed. The British Team won the first and second matches, then lost the third match to Team USA. The day concluded with the British Team three races up against one USA defeat.

Day two saw close racing and signs of an American resurgence. They narrowly lost the first two races, then in the third, by executing excellent and aggressive team racing, managed to turn what had looked like a defeat into a win. In race four, the Americans held a commanding winning 2-3-4-5 combination right up until the final turning mark, with British Team Captain Cornah out in front but his team mates all trailing badly. With a dazzling display of boat control, Cornah turned the tables on what had appeared to be a USA victory by blocking and slowing all the four US boats to allow his team mates to catch up, re-engage and convert a losing team placing into a winning combination.

The final day saw Britain starting with six wins in hand, against the USA’s two. However, in the past this competition has seen the British fade while the Americans have dug deep and pulled the fat from the fire – as witnessed in 2008 in the USA, in 2007 and in 2003 in the UK. With up to five races still available to be sailed, no-one was taking anything for granted.

The first race saw the British Team in a winning combination at mark one. British skipper Ben Field then managed to execute such excellent on-the-water interference to the American boats that the gap between them and the leaders widened far enough to ensure a 1-2-3 lead at the final mark and thence all the way to the finish, giving the British Team their seventh win of the match and first victory in the competition for eleven years.

2010 British American Cup Teams
Team USA (Helmsman named first for each boat)
Andy Herliky, Chris Murray, Ryan Costello and Patrick Donegan; Karl Zeigler, Mike Walsh, Greg Stevens and Rob Deane; Joel Hanneman, Andrew Butler, Paul Wilson and Kyle Shattuck; Tim Wadlow, Dean Brenner (Team Captain), Ned Jones and Rob Dean.

Team GBR
Andy Cornah (Team Captain), Carl Gibbon, Ed Fitzgerald and Guy Brearley; Mark Lees, David mason, Ben Bainbridge and Conor Myant; Jon Pinner, Tom Hayward, Dave Royce and Matt Pinner; Ben Field, Charlie Wylie, Ruairidh Scott and Charlie Cumbley. Reserve Ed Hall.

The Royal Thames Yacht Club, based at Knightsbridge, is the oldest continuously operating yacht club in the world. It has organized yacht races every year since its foundation in 1775. It offers unobtrusive excellence in every aspect of Club life and its members participate in a wide range of yachting events in home waters and worldwide. They also enjoy all the facilities of the London Clubhouse and leading reciprocal clubs around the world.