The fourth and final trophy match of the 2009 BUSA/ICSA tour took place over the weekend of the 18/19 July. Hosted by the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club in , the event was a best-of-7 two-boat team-racing match in Sonars. Despite the match being somewhat of a dead rubber, with BUSA leading 3-0 in the four match series, motivations still remained high with BUSA looking to inflict a whitewash over their American counterparts and the ICSA seeking to avoid such a fate.
Helming the 2 BUSA boats were BUSA were Dave Royse and Rob Style, with Tom Mallindine and Mark Powell in the middle, and Stu Adams and captain Edd Green on the bow. The breeze was south-westerly 12-15 knots, with occasional rain squalls bringing stronger wind throughout the day.
BUSA got off to a good start in the series, with a stable, spread-out 2-3 combination being held for the first lap of the starboard square. An incident between the ICSA boat in 1st and Dave Royse in 2nd at the windward mark of the second lap gave the boat a penalty, allowing BUSA to quickly convert to a 1-2, which they held to the finish.
The second race followed a similar pattern, with BUSA in another solid 2-3 approaching the windward gate of the first lap. A late shortened course flag due to a squall turned the gate into the finish line, meaning BUSA crossed with another win. A protest from the ICSA against the race committee was upheld, and the result did not stand. The resail was close throughout, with Rob Style chasing down an ICSA 1-2 on the last run. However, a questionable umpire call for proper course gave Style spins and allowed the Yanks to sail to a comfortable victory.
Race 3 and BUSA were back in the groove. The pairs split up the first beat, with ICSA behind in both, and some effective slowing from Royse on the approach to the first mark allowed BUSA to round in a 1-2. This was held to the finish, with just one leeward mark trap required to keep the combination secure.
The result of the fourth race was in doubt right up until the finish line. Multiple incidents resulted in spins for both teams around the course, ending with ICSA rounding the final mark in 1st, with the following three boats altogether. Royse split right for clear air, with Style getting squeezed by two ICSA boats on the left. As the boats converged on the finish line Royse attempted an essential dial-down on the second American boat, which they just managed to duck out of and cross the finish in 3rd. 2 races all.
Race 5 was sailed without spinnakers due to the increased wind strength. ICSA took a controlling position off the start-line and consolidated this into a 1-2 at the windward mark. The lack of spinnakers downwind worked to their advantage, preventing BUSA from drawing them into a boat-handling contest. A 1-2 finish took the ICSA to match point with a 3-2 lead.
The final race was the tightest of the series. Regular changes of position saw both teams in 1-2 combinations at some point, but rounding the final leeward mark it was BUSA who just about held the upper hand with a close 2-3. A fierce tacking battle ensued with all boats fighting for a secure lock on the opposition behind them. With the ICSA boat in 1 pushed to the finish line, BUSA just had to hold off the last American boat to force a deciding race. However, after getting the BUSA boats out of sync approaching the finish, the ICSA boat pulled off a close duck and effective luff to sneak under a BUSA boat and cross the line in 3rd by inches, giving them a 4-2 victory in the match and avoiding a whitewash in the overall series, which ended 3-1 to BUSA.
To end the Tour we headed to , where we were hosted by the Royal Thames Yacht Club for a prize-giving dinner. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tour, over 80 Tour alumni from each decade joined the current BUSA and ICSA teams for the evening. There were multiple Olympic medallists, ‘s Cup sailors, Wilson Trophy champions and team-racing world champions present, reflecting the calibre of sailors who represent BUSA in the Tour. After dinner there were speeches from current captain Edd Green, thanking his team and everyone who has helped with the organisation of the Tour this year, and ICSA coach Nick Ewenson, with similar sentiments. Each table then told anecdotes from their time on Tour, and there were many toasts to 50 more years of the BUSA/ICSA Tour. Here’s hoping that becomes a reality.
Photos and an American perspective on the Tour can be found in the ‘blogs’ section of www.sailgroove.org