Proponents of team racing have set their sights on the discipline's inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Regatta. The inaugural Global Team Race
, which will be held Oct. 5 to 7 at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, may prove a crucial milestone on the long road to earning a place on sailing's grandest stage.
The Global Team Race was created from scratch less than a year ago and will feature two-on-two team racing in the New York Yacht Club's fleet of Sonar keelboats.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the response we have received," says event chair Steven Wolff, a veteran team racer and umpire. "We have teams coming from South America, Asia, Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom, in addition to teams from the United States. We had to turn away a handful of teams and there were others that would've applied to compete if they'd had more time to plan. Team racing is growing dramatically in Europe, particularly the two-on-two format. We are already planning a second edition for next year in Britain and hope to confirm shortly the following year in Europe."
Keelboat team racing, which has been increasing in popularity over the last quarter century, is a comprehensive test of tactics, strategy, boat speed and team work. Spinnakers are regularly used, adding another layer of difficulty to the mark roundings and downwind legs and increasing the opportunities for boats behind to catch up.
Traditionally, team racing was sailed in a three-on-three or four-on-four format. But two-on-two is logistically less demanding for both teams and regatta organizers. It's also easier for spectators to follow. The winner of the match is whichever team doesn't cross the finish line last.
"As long as one of a team's boats is behind a one boat from the other team, there’s a chance for a comeback," says Wolff. "Two-on-two is a better fit for international competition where competitors have to travel great distances because there’s fewer people required. And you can get more sailing with the same amount of resources. With the Club's fleet of 22 Sonars, we can have 10 teams on the water at one time. We expect to do a tremendous number of races."
The more races, the more opportunity for the best teams to rise to the top for an eventual championship round that will determine the overall winner. But choosing a champion is just one goal for this event. Whether it's the America's Cup; the Annual Regatta, which has run nearly every year since 1845; or the Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup the New York Yacht Club has a knack and a passion for creating long-standing, iconic sailing events. Organizers hope the Global Team Race follows a similar pattern.
"We have invited the anticipated hosts of the next two events in the hopes of improving the regatta for future editions," says Wolff. "We're preparing a declaration of trust for the Global Team Race, which is a deed of gift that will perpetuate the event. The ultimate goal is for this event to be seen as a world championship of keelboat team racing."
Competing teams: Bayerischer Yacht Club (Germany), Dutch Match & Team Racing Association (Netherlands), Japan Sailing Federation (Japan), New York Yacht Club (New York), Reale Circolo Canottieri Tevere Remo (Italy), Royal Cork Yacht Club (Ireland), Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club (Scotland), Royal Thames Yacht Club (England), Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (Australia), St. Francis Yacht Club (San Francisco), Yacht Club Argentino (Argentina) and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Italy).