After months of preparation the inaugural world championships for what has been dubbed 'the world's fastest growing keelboat class' is about to begin. 137 SB3s drawn from 13 countries have assembled at the National Yacht Club for tomorrow morning's first race of fifteen.
The scale of the fleet means organisers have opted to split it into two separate courses of almost 70 boats a piece. The first nine races until Wednesday determine who will race in the Gold and silver fleet.
England's Craig Burlton and his two man crew are back on Dublin bay two weeks after the trio lifted the Irish SB3 championship in convincing style here two weeks ago.
The result was an indication of British prowess in the class and one that must put Burlton as a favourite for the title but what remains tantalising –say many insiders – is that in spite of the British show of strength the event is still wide open with entries from as far a field as Australia, United Arab Emirates and the Ukraine.
The warm up event saw Burlton win through from reigning European champion Geoff Carveth also of England. Ballyholme's Gareth Flannigan kept the Irish flag flying though going into the last race to finish third overall, a result that shows that Ireland also has the speed to win.
Following yesterday's practice race competitors were welcomed at an opening ceremony last night by Government Minister, Mary Hanafin TD, Ireland's Minister for Family and Social Affairs who officiated at a ceremony where the flags of the 13 nations were raised and anthems played by the Garda band. (See Catherine Coleman's photo below)
Billed as the biggest one-design keelboat regatta ever held in Ireland, entries were still being taken last week and some of the latest additions may represent Ireland’s best hope of success.
Just in is Olympic Star helmsman Peter O’Leary who has teamed up with Beijing Finn dinghy team mate Tim Goodbody. Double Olympic race winner Ger Owens from the 470 class is also sailing. The trio top off a 58-boat Irish fleet that is taking on an established UK fleet of identical size.
Ashore the National YC have taken on the big organisational task with relish. 70 boats are rafted in front of the club and the balance are spread around the harbour. It's an exciting time for the class in Ireland and Dun Laoghaire is set to welcome this new generation of sportsboat with open arms.
Class Secretary Katie Ashworth adds: Dun Laoghaire basked in sunshine as measurement, registration and launching of the 137 boat fleet was undertaken. Now that this is all but complete, there is tangible anticipation as the fleet make final preparations to their boats for the start of racing on Monday. The line up of past Olympians, National, European and World Champions will compete for the title of Laser SB3 World Champion and the honour of lifting the stunning Waterford Crystal World Championship Trophy on Friday 26th September.
Principal Race Officer, Jack Roy has more than 20 years experience as a race officer and will preside over Course 1. The National Yacht Club’s Honorary Sailing Secretary, Con Murphy will take control over Course 2. Over 60 race officials will be afloat to ensure the smooth delivery of this event on the water.
Event Organiser, Rory Byrne has worked tirelessly to ensure that no stone has been left unturned in the organisation of this event, both afloat and ashore. “After a massive amount of planning, far the largest gathering of one design keelboats Ireland has ever seen racing has finally got underway with this afternoon’s Practice Race. The National Yacht Club has drawn together a large team of individual experts in various fields of race management, all of whom are confident of running an event that ranks as high as any on the global stage.”
Dockside banter amongst the fleet is rife and the chat in the bar draws one conclusion; that the book remains wide open for this event. There are obvious favourites, Geoff Carveth, Gareth Flannigan, Jerry Hill, Sean Craig, Dave Cheyne, Craig Burlton, Colin Simonds, Mike Budd, Dave Lenz, Dave Hudson but with a list so long anything could happen, but one thing is for sure, this week is going to see top level sailors competing on the level playing field that the Laser SB3 provides.
Read the interview with the SB3 designer Tony Castro in Ireland Afloat – at all good newsagents
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Sunday 21st Sept
Opening ceremony 1800
Monday 22nd Sept
1st Racing Day – 3 races
Tuesday 23rd Sept
2nd Racing Day – 3 races
Wednesday 24th Sept
3rd Racing Day – 3 races
Thursday 25th Sept
4th Racing day – 3 races
Friday 26th Sept
Final racing day - 2 races
Prize giving and closing ceremony