Eight Australians, seven from Tasmania, are among the 80-plus international helmsmen who will contest the 2017 SB20 one-design sportsboat world championship in the UK next week.
Britain’s most exclusive yacht club, the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, is conducting the championship on The Solent, the intensely tidal, sandbank-strewn waterway between the Isle of Wight and the South Coast of England.
Apart from sailing to win, the role of the Hobart sailors will be to ‘hard sell’ the 2018 worlds to be sailed on the River Derwent in January next. To be run jointly by the Royal Yacht of Tasmania and Derwent Sailing Squadron, a fleet of at least 65 boats is being predicted.
The 2017 SB20 worlds start on Monday, 28 August (UK time) and run through to the following Friday, 1 September. Twelve races have been scheduled and because of the size of the fleet the RYS may elect to divide it into two qualifying fleets.
The Australian boats entered are: Black (Nick Rogers), Brazen (Jervis Tilly), Difficult Woman (Rob Gough), Export Roo (Michael Cooper), Hypertronics (Stephen Catchpool), Phantom Menace (Andrew Smith) and Porco Rosso (Elliott Noye).
All are from River Derwent fleet except Tilly who sails out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
Another prominent SB20 sailor from Hobart, Paul Burnell, will helm a British yacht Marvel, as he did in the recent Cowes Week SB20 Grand Slam.
As a lead-up to the worlds, four other Tasmanian crews contested the Grand Slam with Elliott Noye steered Porto Rosso to a close second to the British yacht Xcellent, scoring two firsts, two seconds and four third places, beaten for first overall by just two points.
Michael Cooper finished a close third in Export Roo, also winning one race, Australian SB20 class president Stephen Catchpool placed ninth in the 31-boat fleet with Hypertronics. Andrew Smith, sailing a boat called Smigger, finished 17 overall.
Rob Gough’s final preparation for the SB20 worlds was to compete in the International Moth worlds on Italy’s Lake Garda where he again the won the world masters championship in the foiler Moths.
Nick Rogers, who introduced the SB20 class to Hobart, is expected to be a strong contender of a new boat called Black. He has won many championships in SB20 as well as world championships in other classes.
While the majority of entries for the worlds are from the UK, other nations represented include Ireland, Portugal, France, Australia, Singapore, Russia, The Netherlands, Germany, Abu Dhabi/Dubai and Italy.
Words: Peter Campbell
Photos: Jane Austin
26 August 2017