Hobart yachtsman Michael Cooper today made an impressive start to winning the SB20 World Championship on the River Derwent that he so narrowly missed at Cowes, England, last August.
Steering Export Roo, with the same crew of David Chapman and Gerry Mitchell, Cooper scored two third places and a win on day one of the 2018 World Championship on his home waters to establish a commanding early lead in the four day, 12 race regatta.
After three races, Export Roo had 6 points on the leaderboard, 13 points clear of his nearest rival, the French boat Le Grand Reservoir/Mazet & A (Achille Nebout) which placed 2-11-7 for 20 points.
Cooper showed his local knowledge by being the first to gybe on the final spinnaker run of the last race and stayed with the breeze while the following boats fell into a ‘’hole.’’
The Hobart businessman lost the 2017 Worlds on The Solent at Cowes to noted British yachtsman Jerry Hill by two points, with Hill using his own local knowledge in the final race.
Cooper has avowed revenge and is not only leading the 2018 Worlds but is also 24 places ahead of Hill, who today placed 4-38-28 in sportsboatworld.com
British sailor John Pollard, sailing Ecellent, is third overall on 24 points (6-12-6) while fourth is race two winner Honey Badger (Paul Burnell) sailing with his sons Oli and Toby and 14-year-old Bailey Fisher. The Honey Badger’s other placings have been a 19th and a 14th for a total of 34 points.
Just one point behind Honey Badger in fifth place overall is the leading Youth boat, Binn Edair, skippered by 24-year-old Irishman Cillian Dickson.
Clare Dabner in Essence of Athena is the leading Women’s crew while Paul Burnell is at the top of the Master’s division.
The Russian crew of MST arrived in Hobart late last week and did not contest the Pre-Worlds. However, Vasily Grigoriev and his crew showed great downwind speed to snatch victory in race one today, crossing the line just seconds ahead of French Youth sailor Robin Follin in Take Me 5 -French Youth Team.
However, the French boat was disqualified under the Black Flag (BFD) rule following a general recall, along with three other boats.
Follin, the 2015 world champion in the SB20 class and winner of the pre-Worlds on the Derwent last week, is back in 25th place in fleet after day one, with an BFD-8-3 scorecard.
Hobart and the River Derwent turned on brilliant sailing conditions for the 59 boats, 18 from overseas, contesting the Worlds – a south-east to south-westerly seabreeze freshening from 12 knot to !8 knots of the end of the day.
“A classic Derwent seabreeze,” commented race officer Nick Hutton.
Words: Peter Campbell
Photos: Jane Austin
1800AEST/7 January 2017