Newport, R.I. — The first two editions of the Global Team Race Regatta, staged in 2018 in Newport, R.I., and 2019 on the Solent in Great Britain, had one striking thing in common: the same three teams finished on the podium. The Royal Thames Yacht Club finished first in 2018 and second in 2019 while St. Francis Yacht Club was third in 2018 and first in 2019. New York Yacht Club completed the podium in each case.
But with a three-year break since the regatta was last held—and a lot of new faces on the team rosters—it’s hard to rely too much on the event’s short history when looking at which of 11 teams, from seven countries, will shine once racing starts on Friday.
Even amongst the competitors, cautious optimism seems to be the favored approach.
“There are no clubs or teams doing team races in Japan, so honestly we don’t know our level,” says Yudai Ishiyama of the Japan Sailing Federation team. “However, I think the team members will do their best by believing in each other.”
The Global Team Race Regatta was conceived by the New York Yacht Club, which hosted the first edition in October 2018. A second edition of the Global Team Race Regatta was held in England in 2019. The third edition was scheduled for Italy in 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-10 pandemic, and eventually rescheduled for this summer in Newport, R.I., where it will once again be held out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court.
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Team Racing, which features two teams of two of four boats each sailing against one another in a close-quarters win-or-lose format, is popular around the world. World Sailing ran the Team Racing World Championship 10 times between 1995 and 2015. That event featured three-on-three competition in two-person dinghies, which favored teams of younger and lighter sailors.
While the fundamentals are very much the same, the Global Team Race Regatta uses a two-on-two format, which makes the competition easier to follow. The team with the last boat across the finish line in an individual race loses the race. The Global Team Race also uses keelboats instead of dinghies, which makes the competition accessible to a wider variety of sailors—both from a size and age perspective—and brings the added complexity of spinnakers into the mix.
“We’ve got a team of great sailors and great personalities,” says Joseph Fava of The Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Mass. “What’s special is we’re all great friends, we compete against each other often in fleet racing; team racing brings us together as one team representing our club. Our team has a good range of ages with team members in their 20s, 30s and 40s.”
The Corinthian Yacht Club team racing program steadily climbed the keelboat team-racing rankings over the past decade, culminating in a win last summer in the Morgan Cup, one of the most respected competitions in this niche of the sport. The Morgan Cup was hosted by the New York Yacht Club in the same Sonars that will be used for the Global Team Race Regatta.
Another team embracing the value of a diverse age demographic is the Royal Belgian Sailing Club, from Zeebrugge, Belgium.
“We strongly believe that sailing is a sport for all ages, and therefore we added a criterium whereby at least three members of our team should be under 26 and three above 26,” says Carl Sabbe of the Royal Belgium Sailing Club. “We came out with ages in our team ranging from 20 to 62. We all appreciate sailing together in a team bridging two generations.”
And, adds Sabbe, while there isn’t a strong tradition of team racing in Belgium, the members of his club have jumped behind this project.
“The club is fully supporting this initiative,” he says. “Our staff prepared the training program and arranged all logistics for our presence in Newport. Our progress was reported in our weekly newsletters, and one of our team members has been appointed to write a full story about this challenge for our 2022 yearbook.”
All 11 teams are expected to take part in a practice session on Thursday. Racing will start on Friday morning shortly after a competitors meeting at 9 am and will conclude on Sunday afternoon. The regatta format is scheduled to include a round-robin portion followed by a knock-out competition to determine the champion. All racing will be on the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, most likely between Rose Island and Goat Island.
Competing teams: Bayerischer Yacht Club, Starnberg, Germany; Japan Sailing Federation, Tokyo, Japan; New York Yacht Club, New York, N.Y.; Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Newport Beach, Calif.; Royal Belgian Sailing Club, Zeebrugge, Belgium; Royal Cork Yacht Club, Cork, Ireland; Royal Thames Yacht Club, London, England; Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, England; Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, Sorrento, Australia; St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco; The Corinthian Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass.