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#sb20 – Racing has started today in the southern French port of Hyeres for the SB20 World Championship. The event is being run over five days and hosted by the International racing centre COYCH. Organisers have opted for a single start for the entire class which will see upwards of 90 boats jostling for position when the sequence commences. In the end, 10 Irish SB20s travelled which is a very impressive turnout from the Irish fleet.

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#sb20 – A competitive fleet of 17 SB20's travelled to the Royal Ulster Yacht Club over the weekend to compete in the Northern Championships. With a big section of the fleet travelling the Worlds in France in a little over three weeks time, the competition was very well timed for the final tuning of boats and crews.

PRO Robin Gray was always going to have his hands full on a shifty first day in Belfast Lough. Race 1 got underway on time, but a big shift on the first beat led to the cancellation of the race, and the next 90 minutes were spent waiting for the breeze to settle enough to get racing underway again. Finally setting off in 8-10 knots of breeze, Ben Duncan with Joe Turner and Aidan MacSweeny on Sharkbait took command half way through the race to snatch the lead from Michael O'Connor on 'Should Be', with ex flying-fifteen ace Darren Martin's 'Soda Bread' rounding out the top three.

Race 2 was convincingly won by Davy Talyor's, stealing the lead early on and doing a horizon job on the rest of the fleet, giving Boatmec their first regatta race win in the SB20's. Local favourites Ridgeway with James & Bob Espey and Gareth Flannigan on board sailed themselves into second place, with Aiden O'Connell's consistent Ruby Blue with Ross & Andrew Vaughan rounding out 3rd in an event which didn't see their results dip below 5th for the entire weekend. Race 3 on Saturday saw the third different race winner in this extremely competitive fleet with Ronan Downings Manamana steered into the lead by fleet newcomer Graham Grant, with Breffni Jones on the bow. Marty Cuppages Seriously Bonkers 3 held onto second place in front of Sharkbait in third.

With the delays in racing earlier in the day the fleet headed in to dinner at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club in the evening, and it was clear the difficult day on the water had fried a few brain cells including Justin Burke's Alert Packaging, Dave Barrys Lia, Rob Howes Milvus Milvus and Ger Dempsey & Chris Nolans usually consistent languishing further back in the fleet order. Ridgeway held the overnight lead tied with Ruby Blue, with the discard to kick in the following day.

Day 2 dawned with more promise of breeze and some of the sparkling downwind sailing the SB20's deliver in bucketloads when the wind is up. After the black flag appeared the fleet was a little line-shy, with Ridgeway leading the charge for the entire race only to be pipped on the finish line by Sharkbait. Dinghy Supplies with Daragh Sheridan, John Phelan and Dan O'Connell had their best result with a third. Race 5 was another black flag affair for the eager fleet, but 'Ruby Blue' capitalised and took the bullet from Ridgway, with Sharkbait fighting back from deep in the fleet to steal 3rd from Boatmec on the line.

So it was down to the last race of the regatta to decide the overalls. With a dropping breeze there was some frantic changes to rigs, and the fleet got underway dodging some big holes in the breeze on the first beat. Sharkbait eventually sealed her 4th Northern Championship crown by winning the final race, followed by Ruby Blue into a solid second overall. Manamana rounded out the top three for the final race, but it was not enough to claim the last podium spot which went to the local lads on Ridgeway.

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#sb20 – With an eye to the form book for the SB20 World Championships in Hyeres next month, won the inaugural SB20 UK Grand Slam on day four of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week. Jerry Hill, Craig 'Spike' Watson and Richard Lovering sailed an excellent series in a brand new SB20 which was only launched on Thursday 1st August.

Without completing the final two races of the event, just one discard was applied to the six results generated over the previous three race days. After the discard Jerry Hill and Joe Lewellyn were tied on 8 points, but Hill took the Grand Slam title and lifted the Sportsboat World Trophy on count back

The SB20 class now looks towards the 2013 World Championships, in early September in Hyeres, south of France. 100 boats are expected to compete in the Championship, with 14 irish entries.

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#sb20 – Up to 14 Irish teams are expected to travel to the upcoming SB20 World Championships to be held in Hyeres, France and hosted by internationally renowned COYCH,recent host to the ISAF Sailing World Cup. As Afloat reported earlier, racing begins on September 9th in the Southern French venue that will see 5 days of intense competition for the 100 boats expected to compete. 14 Races are scheduled including the qualifier series over 2 days after which the fleet will be split between Gold and Silver over two separate race courses.

The combined Dun Laoghaire clubs are travelling in strength with James Gorman (Odin), Ger Dempsey / Chris Nolan ( Marty Cuppage / Peter Lee (Seriously Bonkers 3), Dave Barry (Lia) with Irish Class President Justin Burke leading by example and heading south for the event. have combined forces with Davy Taylor ( from Carrickfergus Sailing Club for the series.

Cork crews led by Southern Rep Mel Collins are also well represented. Mel and brother Killian were 11th at the last UK hosted World Championships in Torquay in 2011. This was the best ever placing for an Irish Crew at any of the Sportsboat worlds series. Previously, Ballyholme sailor Gareth Flannigan came 22nd overall in Gold at the 2010 Lake Garda series. The Cork duo are well used to stiff one-design competition with years of success in 1720's, J109's and Olympic Star class and will be seeking a repeat of their earlier performance. Kieran Dorgan (The Bear) who crewed with the RCYC pair in Torquay, is representing his own club (Cove Sailing Club) this September. Kieran recently showed a good turn of speed at the SB20 Irish Nationals in Galway. Kinsale Yacht Club's Ronan Downing (Manamana) has recruited Howth Yacht Clubs Graeme Grant and Irish Class Silver Medallist Breffini Jones. Monkstown Bay Sailing club is represented by Rob Howe and Joanne Sheehy (Milvus Milvus).

Although based in Ireland and representing the ISA at the regular Irish regional events, Three times SB20 National Champion Ben Duncan (Sharkbait) has opted to represent his native New Zealand in Hyeres. Duncan along with regular crew Joe Turner will be heavier than normal with substitute Aidan MacSweeney travelling and is hoping to better his 13th score at the 2011 Worlds.

The Irish teams are up against some stiff competition this year. Three times World Champion Geoff Carveth will be there to defend his title along with Jerry Hill (2010 Champion). A serious threat to the championship comes from Russia where the fleet has seen a steady growth. Some of the Russian teams including current European Champion Rodion Luka, have been using Portugal as a winter training base and are keen to bring the title home. In all, 14 countries will be represented in Hyeres. Recently, World Council President, Ed Russo who came 2nd in the Grand Slam series in Hyeres visited Galway for the Irish Nationals but had to be content with a 5th place overall as a result of a late black flag.

The Irish Fleet travel to Bangor this coming weekend to take part in the Northern Championships which will be the final preparation event before travelling to France.

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#sb20SB20 trio Ben Duncan, Brian Moran and Joe Turner sailing Sharkbait completed a hat-trick of SB20 national titles at a tricky 22-boat event in Galway last weekend in a nice race series cut short to six. It's a significant achievement in one of the top one design classes. Sharkbait leads 14 Irish SB20s boats entered for the World Championships, positive news with 15% of all entries for the French hosted event coming from Ireland.

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#sb20 – In really tricky conditions that saw the nine race series reduced to six races, the fleet of 22 SB20's took to the water to contend the title this weekend on Galway Bay. Ably commanded on the water by Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) Commodore David Vinnell, the GBSC team battled the elements all weekend with massive shifts, rain squalls, thunder and lightning storms and doldrums. Results below for download as a jpeg file.

Race 1 on Saturday proved to be a presidential affair with SB20 International Class President Ed Russo getting off to a flying start with a win closely followed by Irish class President Justin Burke in 2nd. Russo was sailing on chartered SB Mephisto and was crewed by Rob Smith and Americas Cup/Match race tour sailor Gilles Favennec. The team were using the Irish Event as a warm up to their campaign for the SB20 worlds later this year to be held in Hyeres.

Race 2 was won by Ben Duncan (Sharkbait) with Kieran Dorgan (The Bear) in 2nd who was definitely improving after a slow start to his day. Russo crossed the line in 3rd . By this time the crews were finding it increasingly difficult to get a measure of the tricky wind conditions. The odd flurry of breeze from the Southern shore would not last long and would inevitably cause a bit of intense head scratching. Vinnell and team boldly set the course for race 3 directly underneath one incoming cloud and it was Aidan O'Connell (Ruby Blue) took race 3 from Sharkbait. O'Connell opted for the left side of the beat from the start and beat Duncan to the weather mark coming nicely in on the port lay. O'Connell maintained his lead all the way to the finish. Kieran Dorgan again showed good pace and finished in 3rd.

PRO David Vinnell had wanted to run 5 races on Saturday but a large thunder and lightning storm that came in from the southwest killed any gradient breeze. What little breeze remained was shifting regularly by 30+ degrees which made it impossible to set a course so David wisely opted to send the fleet home.

The consistent Michael O'Connor and team (Should Be) won a very technically challenging Sunday race 1 with Ed Russo snapping at his heels. Another large shift indicating an imminent sea breeze made for a dog leg to the finish. Ed Russo now held the key to the event as Duncan could only manage a 7th. The ISA team on Sharkbait had a major hill to climb as now they were on joint 15 points with Russo who would have won the event had there been no more racing. It was Duncan who had to dig deep and get a good result in Sunday Race 2. Russo opted for a pin end start and went left. Duncan took the committee boat and went right sensing that the developing sea breeze would come from the right hand beat. Russo however picked up seaweed on the beat and had to back sails to remove the offending handbrake and lost places as a result. Duncan meanwhile came out of the beat 3rd to the weather mark behind Mel Collins (Who's the Boss) who came in bravely from the port lay, and Darren Martin (Soda Bread). Sharkbait was able to get a sniff more breeze and reeled in the two leaders to win with Daragh Sheridan from Howth Yacht Club on Dingy Supplies in 2nd.

For the final race 3 on Sunday, Russo had to engineer a race win and try and force Duncan into deep results. However PRO David Vinnell caught two boats over early at the start on a black flag sequence and it was Russo who had to sit it out on the bold step along with Carrickfergus man Davy Taylor on Sharkbait (Ben Duncan, Brian Moran and Joe Turner) commanded the final race and took a win to copper fasten their third consecutive SB20 Nationals Title with an impressive 1,1,1,2,5, (7) score and an 11 point margin over second.

Michael O'Connor from the Royal St George Yacht Club crewed by Howth pairing Breffini Jones and Simon Rattigan did enough with a 5th in the final race to merit a 2nd overall, a silver medal and some very nice Galway Irish Crystal. Third overall was Mel Collins, Killian Collins and Mary Credon who improved greatly on their Saturday performances and made the podium position.

Silver fleet was won by Strangford Loughs Darren Martin and crew on Soda Bread with Justin Burke (Alert in 2nd and Davy Taylor ( in third.

Results below for download as a jpeg file

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#sb20 – This Friday sees the kick off for the 2013 SB20 Nationals, this year hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club, Galway Harbour Company and race HQ provided by the Harbour Hotel.

The fleet are well used to Galway Bay having had 3 previous Western Championships run from the city centre docks location. Galway has proven an ideal location for the fleet as it provides good deep water marina berthing, on-site crane and perfect Atlantic sailing.

The Irish SB20 fleet is still one of the most competitive and thriving SB20 Fleets in the world.

It is a measure of this success which warrants a visit from the SB20 World Council President Ed Russo, to compete in his run up campaign to the SB20 Worlds to be held in September in Hyeres in the South of France. Of the 90 boats entered so far to the French spectacular, over 10% of these entries come from the Irish fleet.

Ed is going to find it tough at the top end of the fleet in this dog eat dog environment where the last two events have gone down to tied points at the lead and count back wins. Alan Hillman of Sportsboat world is putting in an appearance on Friday also to see what the fuss is about.

As usual, Ben Duncan (Sharkbait) and crew will be a force to be reckoned with as they've won the last two nationals and won here three times in a row, but the Kiwi native hasn't had it all his own way this year. John O'Driscoll (Boomchickawahwah) from RSGYC has really been on form and only a quick tack away from winning the Westerns and Southerns this year. Each event going to tied points with Duncan. John and crew also had a good event at the recent Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta coming second to club mate Michael O'Connor on "Should Be". But can Michael convert "should be" to "could be" for the nationals? Certainly based on his dominance at VDLR 2013 we would have to say yes he could. Michael has had an unlucky start to his SB20 career with some damage but hopefully he can now concentrate on matters at hand and prove to be a force in the class.

On recent form a number of contenders will be well in with a chance at the title. Emmet Ryan's recent successes at the RS400 circuit and a good showing at VDLR for example. Aidan O'Connell who won the Eastern title at Howth, Mel Collins, Kieran Dorgan, Darren Martin all have their eyes on the title but at the end of the day it'll be a numbers game and a top 5 slot in the Irish fleet is a hard place to be. Ed Russo needs his jousting gloves on for this one.

Racing starts on Friday with 3 races scheduled. Conditions at the moment are light to variable so it should be a technically challenging event for all 25 boats expected to cross the starting line.

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#sb20 – Today's SB20 Sportsboat racing on Dublin Bay has been cancelled by Dublin Bay Sailing Club due to strong westerly winds gusting to 30 knots on the Bay. Yesterday Flying fifteen and other one design DBSC racing was also cancelled because of strong winds.

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#SB20 – Perfect conditions awaited the 21 boat SB20 fleet this weekend at Kinsale for the Southern Championships hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club.

Blue Skies and light to medium Easterly breeze allowed the fleet at last to drop the thermal layers in favour of sun cream, shorts and T-shirts so often lacking on the circuit of late. The 6 race series over Saturday and Sunday was masterfully conducted on the water by PRO Tony Ireson and his team.

It was Scott McKeon on board Magic who got proceedings off to a fine start with a win in Race 1 closely followed by Darren Martin on board The Sloth in 2nd. Although Peter Kennedy on board Ridgefence got off to a slow start in race 1 he took line honours in Race 2 closely followed by the ever quick and consistent John O'Driscoll from RSGYC on Boomchicawahwah again with Darren Martin in the leading pack in 3rd.

Race 3 on Saturday was shortened due to a dying breeze. The fleet and PRO hoped a sea breeze would develop but this never materialised and as a result the final race favoured the lucky and frowned on the not so fortunate. Mel Collins from RCYC won this race with Peter Lee on Seriously Bonkers in 2nd and John O'Driscoll in third, thus leaving John as overnight leader.

The first race on Sunday again was won by Peter Kennedy, Stephen Kane and Bob Espey who were sporting a brand new set of the new Sportsboatworld Black sails which have been adopted by the class internationally. The sails are made of the same material as the white sails with a dye added which is claimed to offer better UV protection and longevity. If anything they're easy to spot on the race course.

Scott McKeon proved again to be slippy in the light breezed and won race 5 but the scene was being set behind the stage by the ever consistent Ben Duncan on Sharkbait who was now 1 point behind John O'Driscoll going into Race 6. BoomChicawahwah had to beat Sharkbait to ensure their win but this was not to be.


Despite PRO Tony Ireson's warning to the fleet, it was the 3rd Black Flag of the day that decided John's fate and he received an early shower instead. Duncan with John O'Driscoll sent home, had to place in the top 3 in the final race to win the event. Despite the attention of Scott McKeon and Darren Martin, Duncan managed to end in third behind Martin and HYC helm Keith Cassidy who had the final say and took line honours.


So Ben Duncan and team on Sharkbait retain the SB20 Southern Trophy and remarkably win their second event this year to John O'Driscoll on count back on the final race. Consistency is obviously the key to the Duncan mantra. Peter Kennedy was third and Scott McKeon fourth.

Series Place Sail No Boat Helm Crew Crew 2 Club Series Points
1 3287 Sharkbait Ben Duncan Brian Moran Joe Turner ISA 16
2 3312 Boomchickawahwah John O'Driscoll Kevin Johnson Edward Cook RstGYC 16
3 3500 Ridgefence Peter Kennedy Steve Kane Bob Espey RNIYC 18
4 3198 Magic Scott McKeon Nicholas O'Leary Donal Hegarty RCYC 20
5 3501 The Sloth Darren Martin Roger Pannell Simon Murray SLYC 20
6 3045 Who's the Boss? Mel Collins Killian Collins Mary Collins RCYC 27
7 3484 Seriously Bonkers Stephen Lee Peter Lee Michael Galvin RstGYC 34
8 3467 Alert Packaging Justin Burke Jerry Dowling Joe O'Reilly National YC 36
9 3544 Sin Bin Emmet Ryan David Rose James Ryan RstGYC 41
10 3279 Monkey Keith Cassidy Mick McCormack Jan McSweeney Howth Y.C. 52
11 3338 Milvus Milvus Robert Howe Paul McMahon Joanne Sheehy MBSC 58
12 3060 The Beard Kieran Dorgan Jason Losty Kate Nagle Cove Sailing Club 60
13 3316 Ger Dempsey Chris Nolan Conor Clancy & Lisa Neary RIYC 60
14 3062 Manamana Ronan Downing Breffni Jones Ryan Scott KYC 61
15 3449 Lia Dave Barry Owen Laverty Ger Bythell RstGYC 67
16 3433 Davy T Eoin O'Fearghaill Steve Ferres ISA 71
17 3072 Handsome Transom Niall Kelly Dom Losty Ewan O'Keeffe Cove Sailing Club 73
18 3206/3054 Ruby Blue Aidan O'Connell Colm Galvan Alan Daly RstGYC 74
19 3490 Dinghy Supplies Daragh Sheridan Shane Murphy John Phelan Howth Y.C. 77
20 3341 Sandy Bottom Gordon Judge Ronan Harris David Stewart RstGYC 81
21 3070 Sonic Boom Richard Marshall Brian Carroll Gareth Dorgan Cove Sailing Club 88
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#kinsale – The newly revamped Kinsale Yacht Club welcomes the SB20 fleet this coming weekend for their first ever championship event at the South Coast harbour. The new clubhouse opened its doors on the June bank holiday weekend but the SB20 fleet is the first championship event to be hosted there.

PRO Tony Ireson and his team are expecting up to 25 entries for the event and competition is expected to be tight as ever. 6 boats from around Cork Harbour have been doing a lot of local one-design racing and as ever the Cork crews are expected to offer some stiff competition. 5 boats are travelling from the combined Northern Ireland clubs. Past winners Peter Kennedy and Stephen Kane on Ridgefence are good in the light airs and will be ones to watch. Darren Martin from Strangford Lough is proving to be a force to be reckoned and with his light crew could do very well. Defending champion Ben Duncan and his team on Sharkbait will have their work cut out for them especially as conditions are forecast to be light.

For the first time at their regional events, this year the Irish SB20 class are rigidly enforcing the 270 Kilo weight restriction so it will be interesting to see how many of the crews will be stripping down to their underwear at registration. In international fleets, the SB20's are sailed to within a half kilogram of the weight restriction. Some of the top European crews opt for 4 crew members however the Irish crews tend to forfeit weight for added downwind advantage. This weekend will tell which theory is right. The world championships are due to take place in Hyeres in September where weight may be an advantage. Up to 10 Irish boats are expected to make the journey.

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Page 20 of 24

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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