In a lead-up to the 2016 world championship for the SB20 class, prominent Hobart fleet skipper Michael Cooper this weekend is contesting the Portuguese nationals for the high performance sports boats.
Cooper will helm his European-based, grey-hulled SB20, Export Roo, with his regular crew of David Chapman and UK sailor Jerry Mitchell standing in for RYCT Commodore Matthew Johnston, the other regular crew.
The Portuguese nationals will start this coming Thursday, 9 June and continuing through to Monday, 12 June, sailing on the same course area for the worlds, on the Atlantic off the historic seaside town of Cascais, 30km from Lisbon.
Export Roo is one of at least two Tasmanian boats planning to contest the SB20 Worlds, the other being Phil Reid’s Mind Games, with Andre Declarck and Sam Ibbott as crew. They are not contesting the Portugues nationals.
With the 2016 SB20 worlds scheduled from 27 August to 3 September at the 75 year old Clube Naval de Cascais, the Portuguese national championship is expected to attract a strong international fleet.
At the 2015 SB20 worlds on Italy’s Lake Garda, Cooper, Matthews and Chapman sailed Export Roo to a close 10th overall in the 98 boat fleet, including winning one of the 13 races and placing third in two others. Mind Games also contested the gold fleet at the 2015 worlds.
Back in Australia, sailing the Hobart-based Export Roo, Cooper and his crew finished a close third in the 2016 Australian championships on Port Phillip, won again by Glenn Bourke who had finished third in the worlds at Lake Garda.
Apart from using the Portuguese nationals as an important lead-up to the worlds at Cascais, the presence of the Tasmanian crew will draw attention to the 2018 world championship for the SB20s, to be hosted on the River Derwent by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and the Derwent Sailing Squadron.
On the local scene, the SB20 class is booming, with the Derwent fleet expected to reach 40 boats next season. At least 100 SB20s are expected to contest the worlds in 2018.
Michael Cooper left Hobart for Portugal on a high note: winning race one of the SB20 division of the Derwent Sailing Squadron’s Winter Series. Top skipper on the day was Phil Reid in Mind Games with a first and a second.
6 June 2016