Tasmanian sailors to the fore in SB20 worlds

Tasmanian sailors have made a great start to the 2017 SB20 one-design sports boat world championship which began on The Solent off Cowes, England, overnight.

Only one race was sailed because of light winds, with Michael Cooper, at the helm of Export Roo, winning the Yellow qualifying fleet. Nick Rogers finished second in the Blue fleet with his new boat Black.

Finishing a close fourth in the Yellow fleet was Difficult Woman, whose skipper Rob Gough recently won the world masters championship in the foiler Moth singlehanded dinghy class.

In seventh place came Porco Rosso, helmed by young Hobart sailor Elliott Noye who finished runner-up in the recent Cowes Week SB20 grand slam.

Aerial view of the SB20 fleet off Cowes

All four skippers are prominent competitors in Hobart’s 45-boat strong SB20 fleet which next January will host the 2018 world championship for this high-performance class.

Because of the size of the fleet (78 boats from ten nations)  the host club at Cowes, the famous Royal Yacht Squadron,  has split the fleet into two qualifying group.

Seven of the eight Australian boats contesting the worlds have drawn in the same qualifying fleet, just one in the other.  Also in the Yellow fleet, Brazen (Jervis Tilly, RSYS) placed 31st, Smigger (Andrew Smith) 28th and Hypertronics (Stephen Catchpool) 31stvin race one.

In overall scoring between the two fleets, Export Roo is sharing first place with British boat Xcellent. Black is equal second with the German entry Give Me Five while Difficult Woman is equal fourth with another UK boat, Uber.  Porco Rosso is ranked equal seventh.

Well-known Hobart yachtswoman Claire Cunningham, a crew member of Difficult Woman, spoke to team press officer Jane Austin after the aborted racing.

“We (Difficult Woman) got a good start…but not as good as Export Crew which started at the pin end and crossed the entire fleet,” Claire said.

SB20s packed the marina at Cowes...waiting for wind.

“We lost a couple of places during the race (to finish fourth) and had a man overboard situation…well not completely.

“We managed to hold onto him and drag him back aboard. It is quite slippery up front and he was rather wet for the rest of the race,’’ Claire added.

Words: Peter Campbell

Photos:  Jane Austin, Royal Yacht Squadron

29 August 2017


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