Team Racing – Can you count to 10?
If you can sail and count to 10, you may find Team Racing to be an enjoyable and stimulating type of sailing. I say count to 10 because 10 or less is the winning combination of finish positions for your team in a 3 on 3 boat Team Race.
The 210 is not a typical type of boat for Team Racing. Usually, short ended, quick turning boats are used and the activity is frenetic, aggressive and sometime noisy! In 210s, because of their long ends and skegs, the racing is a bit more sedate and gentlemanly, more like match racing in 12M boats. In luffing situations, the windward boats must stay clear of the leeward boats long bow and the leeward boat must anticipate the windward boats long stern swing as she responds to a luff. This, we’ve found, calms down the game and seems to add a more “mature” nature to the usually hyperactive game of Team Racing.
Gibson Island’s 210 Fleet has had Team Racing as an important aspect from its beginning, 11 years ago. We have 3 events each year using our 210s against 3 local Clubs. These events become spectator events and followed by a party at the Boathouse, the skirmishes on the race course are quickly forgotten.
Of course, Team Racing with genoas would be impossible with the need for quick tacking and visibility, so our Fleet’s blade jibs are perfect for the events. The 210’s minimal keel efficiency and somewhat reduced sail area without the genoa, give the crews an added challenge in maneuvering aggressively yet keeping speed. Acceleration and slowing control are vitally important in the 210 as compared to more easily handled boats commonly used in Team Racing such as J 22s and Sonars. The 210s at Gibson Island are carefully equalized with identical sails purchased in a lot, rigs tuned the same and bottoms all painted with the same finish and paint. We allow a boat rotation between teams if either team feels that it is necessary. It has taken some effort to equalize the boats and it is beneficial in our Fleet racing too. Red or Green backstay flags and sail numbers identify the teams.
In Team Racing, the old 2 boat length circle is still used, marks are rounded to Starboard and if at all possible, on the water umpiring is used with “instant” resolution to fouls. A single 360 turn is done when you foul another boat and if an umpire call is needed, your penalty is a 720 degree turn is required. There are a few other modifications to the racing rules, mostly concerning mark roundings.
We have been using windward – leeward courses with very long offsets (6 boat lengths) at both marks. This allows for some activity on these short reaches where a boat sets a trap for a competitor tempting him to an illegal inside overlap or sailing him beyond the mark if he’s caught overlapped outside. Luffing a competitor is frequent to allow a team mate to pass ahead.
The goal of Team Racing is to have a winning combination of places totaling 10 or less – i.e.: a 1, 3, 6 will win, whereas a 1, 4, 6 will lose. You can quickly see that the infighting to move your opponent back a place and your team mate up one is intense and increasingly so the nearer the finish you are. The first place boat has to be very sure his team mates maintain a winning combination before he crosses the line and it’s very common to see the leader turn around and return to attack a competitor, slowing him to let a team mate take the lead. Your personal finish position is unimportant as long as your team wins. Communication between team members is common as boats pass along control of a competitor or ask for help to attack a controlling opponent.
All the while, boatspeed must be controlled. An important element is to be able to slow an opponent. If to windward, you can sit on his wind and release your jib to sail slowly, making him sail even more slowly. If to leeward, luffing and oversheeting can throw a powerful backwind on a competitor, forcing him to tack away. Boat handing must be second nature and good crews are a great asset, allowing the helmsman to look around and estimate positions of his team mates. All the while, adding various combinations to ensure your total is the essential 10 or less.
We encourage other fleets to add Team Racing to their schedules. It has the added benefit of letting other Clubs and their sailors enjoy the wonderful pleasure of sailing 210s. The visibility we have given the 210 through having other Clubs come race the 210 is significant and could lead to growth of this excellent Class.
– Tom Price
Gibson Island 210 Fleet member and Sailing Director