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Young French skipper Achille Nebout, sailing Le Reservoir/Mazet & Associase, brilliantly won the 2018 World championship for the SB20 one-design sports boat class on Hobart’s River Derwent. The top Irish performance was 13th from Michael O'Connor of the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Howth's Cillian Dickson was 23rd with Ger Dempsey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) 39th overall. More in the Irish Times Sailing Column this morning here.

With Nebout's equally young crew of Gabriel Skoczek, Pauline Mazzocchi and Bruno Mournac, they finished the 12-race series with a first and a second on a sparkling Derwent and hot summer’s day.

Another young French crew, headed by sailor Robin Follin, the 2015 World champion finished second overall, third place going to the British boat Marvel, skippered by Richard Powell.
Top Australian boat was the National champion Aeolus, skippered by Brett Cooper, also from Hobart, who finished a sixth overall.

But it was a sad end to the worlds for fellow Tasmanian Michael Cooper with his boat Export Roo receiving a BFD (Flack Flag) disqualification for a starting line infringement in the last race.
Export Roo had crossed the line in second place in race 12, just seconds astern of another French boat, EOLIFT Racing (Hugo Feydit).

But it was not to be, with Export Roo relegated to seventh. Cooper lodged a claim for redress but the International Jury denied this, Export Roo with a last race BFD,
While the international sailors from France and Britain dominated the top five overall placings, (three French, two Britain) six Australian boats finished in the top 11 placings.
Today’s races were sailed on a sparkling River Derwent in a 10-15 knot ENE breeze on a hot (28 degrees) summer’s day that drew a large spectator fleet out on the water to watch the final races.

With the standings so close going into the final race, the start became aggressive with the first attempt being a general recall.
Race officer Nick Hutton then hoisted the Black Flag and four boats were called BFD – Export Roo (AUS) Xcellent (John Pollard, GBR), Provident CRM (Michael O’Connor, IRE) and Ikon20 (Kirwan Robb, AUS).

Export Roo had crossed the line in second place and Xcellent fourth.

The first SB20 World championship in Hobart was conducted with the highest professional standards by the Royal Yacht of Tasmania and the Derwent Sailing Squadron as joint hosts and Nick Hutton, an international race officer, heading up a team of mostly volunteers from both clubs.
Weatherwise, sailing conditions were excellent for the Pre-Worlds and the Worlds, with moderate to fresh breezes ranging from northwest to west and south, to east-north-east on the final day.

The championships drew a fleet of 59 boats, 18 internationals from France, Ireland, Great Britain, Italy, Singapore and New Caledonia.

Top ten placings overall:

1. Le Grand Reservoir/Mazet & Associates (Achillle Nebout, FRA) 2-(11)-7-(25)-11-3-3-8-3- 4-1-2, 44 points.
2. Give Me 5 - French Youth Team (Robin Follin, FRA) BFD-8-3-3-(23)-1-8-1-91-15-4, 53 points.
3. Marvel (Richard Powell, GBR) 10-(32)-1-(13)-10-11-1-3-4-7, 57 points.
4. IOLIFT Racing (Hugo Feydit, FRA) 13-17-5-(23)-4-(35)-17-17-4-2-6-1, 86 points,
5. Xcellent (John Powell, GBR) 6-12-6-14-3-10-1-3-24-(30)-7-BFD, 86 points.
6. Aeolus (Brett Cooper, AUS) (26)-16-11-1-2-11-4-7-(19)-13-12-11, 88 points
7. Export Roo (Michael Cooper, AUS) 3-3-1-9-(UFD)-2-7-32-6-9-17-(BFD) 89 points.
8. 2Unlimited (Greg Prescott (AUS) (25)-7-15-5-7-14-5-5-14-(26)-20-18, 110 points.
9. Porco Rosso (Elliott Noye, AUS) 11-(24)-18-7-(33)-4-9-15-13-23-5-6, 111 points.
10, Karabos (Nick Rogers, AUS) (28)-14-25-6-8-(29)-12-2-11-14-14-12, 118 points.

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“Blow the froth off one mate. Sun is shining, you could be back home in the s**t” – Honda, Mind Games, AUS

As with any competitive sailing crew, we all consciously agree to the ups and downs of this sport. Today was a definite downer for the Irish fleet as we collectively hurt on the easterly side of the Derwent Estuary writes Ted Laverty. Mind you, we’re not alone (and conscious of the weather at home) – but there are still two races left to regain our footing.

If ever we could live in a fantasy land, it’s easy to believe that Puff the Magic dragon hails from these parts, reigning down bands of wind that favour one boat over another within scarily short distance of each other. No excuses, but I have seen boats sailing 2 knots faster and 20 degrees higher within 5 boat lengths all regatta. It’s been hard but to take, but in the end it’s a fact and we’re all sailing in the same conditions.

Yesterday I wrote about the French, and today they scored under the posts. With 34 points in total and a 9,1 in 2 Races today Robin Follin (2015 world champion) and his crew hold a 6 point net advantage over the local favourite Michael cooper in Export Roo in second. One point further afield we have Achille Nebout in third. The top 5 has changed significantly today after 9 races as the second discard kicked in, with overnight leader John Pollard and crew from the UK on 55 points dropping back to 5th overall. It’s fluid down under and it’s still a hard one to call for the crown just one day out.

Mick O’Connor, John Malone and Ed Cook in (Sin Bin) lead the Irish charge overnight in 15th place overall. Rounding in 4th place at the first windward mark in race 1, a localised band of wind at the spreader mark forced them into an early jibe and the guys struggled to regain their position thereafter. This place sucks you in and spits you out - regardless of how good you are.

The crew of Bin Eadair (Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling, Diana Kissane) didn’t fare any better today with a 31, 41. Dropping to 18th overall tonight, I do get the sense that they will relish the chance to shine again tomorrow and show their quality against the leaders of this regatta.
Worth noting that race 2 was abandoned today after a 70 degree wind shift with all Irish boats in the top 10 on the last upwind leg. We were all understandably disappointed with the recall and are now ready to slay said dragon.

On (Ger Dempsey, Ted Laverty, Emily Pollard, Chris Nolan) we struggled a bit today and notched up a 33,44. We know we can do a lot better but at the same time we’re lacking that ‘intuitiveness’ that comes from sailing together as a practised team. By the time we finish this regatta together, we’ll actually be ready for a worlds!

Tomorrow we have 2 races, a boat pack and a post world’s dinner. I’ll try my best to fill you in on the rest of ‘Team Ireland’s’ adventure together down under, but if you want to track the races or see the results in the meantime click here

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Tasmanian sailor Michael Cooper has fought back in his bid to win the 2018 SB20 World championship, but the competition is fierce with two French and a British boat his rivals for victory on the Derwent tomorrow (Thursday). Irish bats are placed 15th, 18th and 41st. Full results after ten races sailed here.

After races nine and ten yesterday, Cooper has recovered his standing to be just six points behind the young Frenchman Robin Follin, but only one point ahead of another French sailor, Achille Nebout.

And the British sailor Richard Powell is only five points further down the leaderboard. with Australian champion skipper Brett Cooper an outside chance for aa podium finish.

Overall standings changed during the two races sailed in moderate breezes on the Derwent today, and with the two discard rule coming into effect after ten races there were some significant changes in standings.

Michael Cooper, sailing Export Roo, was able to discard his 32nd place in race eight to his earlier UFD disqualification and, with a sixth and a ninth today, has lifted from sixth to second overall on a net 40 points.

Outstanding performer of the day, however, was Robin Follin and his crew of Give Me 5 – French Youth Team, who finished ninth in race nine and then scored a brilliant win in race ten.

Discard his two worst race results, Follin has a commanding net 34 points, six clear of Michael Cooper.

Third in overall standings going into the final day or two scheduled races is another French yacht, the consistently well sailed La Grand Reservoir/Mazet & Associase. Skipper Achille Nebout placed third and fourth today and is on a net 41 points.

Today’s other winner was the British boat Marvel, taking out race nine, followed by a third in race 10. However, Marvel’s consistent places did little to improve its overall status after the discards and the GBR boat is still fourth overall on a net 46 points.

Tasmanian boats fill eight of the first 13 places overall, underlining the depth of talent in the local River Derwent fleet.

Two Unlimited (Greg Prescott) is seventh overall, Karabos (Nick Rogers) ninth and second Masters skipper, Difficult Women (Rob Gough) 10th, Flirtatious/Ambition Sailing Team (Chris Dare) 11th, Honey Badger (Paul Burnell) 12th and Porco Rosso (Elliott Noye) 13th.

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Sticky. Like scalextric. That’s what you need to be off the start line here, in a lane, bow down and hiking like a swiss alpine enthusiast. If you can’t live with the boats around you, you’re toast. Pure and simple writes Ted Lavery at the SB20 Worlds in Hobart.

Today saw a steady sea breeze develop from the SE with the local crews ‘home advantage’ being somewhat eroded. This place still had the ability to produce very localised puffs of breeze to exhilarate and confound crews in equal measure, but it still felt more like a plan than previous days.

The leaderboard saw significant changes today over 3 races, with overnight leader Micheal Cooper of Tasmania (2nd in the 2017 worlds in Cowes) being relegated to 6th place overall after what was ultimately a challenging day for their crew in heeling conditions. Top place is wide open with John Pollard from the UK in Xcellent leading by 4 points. Discards will have a major say in this regatta, with most crews withholding high results meaning that there is little margin for error in the final 4 races.

That said we need to mention the French. Like the great ‘Les blues’ rugby teams of the last decade, their speed, accuracy and tactics across the course are looking ominous. With Robert Follin, 2015 world champion, and his crew aboard ‘Give Me 5’ posting a 1st, 8th, 1st today and lying in third overall behind Achille Nebout and crew on Le Grand Réservoir / Mazet & A (3rd, 3rd, 8th ) there’s a touch of the classic England – French rivalry down in these parts now. That’s tonight, no doubt there is still time for an additional twist or two in the remaning days before the title is handed over.

And what of the fighting Irish? The news is good. All three crews have managed to work their way up the overall standings today.

Reigning Corinthian world champion Mick O’Connor, John Malone and Ed Cook in (Sin Bin) had a strong day on the Derwent posting a 5th, 11th and 19th to lie in 9th place overall overnight. As in the pre-worlds, these guys have an undisputed ability to grind out results when it matters and push their way up the fleet with consistently high results. It’s impressive stuff.

To make Irish eyes smile all the more, the Irish youth team on Bin Eadair (Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling, Diana Kissane) lie in 10th place overall. Possessing the requisite quality and experience to dial in strong results over the next 4 races, with the rub of the green they could well climb to further heights in this contest.

On our boat (Ger Dempsey, Ted Laverty, Emily Pollard, Chris Nolan) we fought hard for a 32,33,35 today to lie 37th overall. The racing today was exhilarating with fast downwind plaining legs and long tactical beats. We hit 14 Knots, surfed down some gnarly waves and got strong starts. All that and we even had a man overboard on one downwind, who kept the kite flying and retrieved themselves independently from the high Tasman seas. That crew member shall remain nameless.
Last night competitors enjoyed an offsite reception in the Maritime Museum Of Tasmania where, along with the full seafaring history of Tasmania, we were treated to an exhibition of photos from the 50 years of the Sydney to Hobart race. De-masted yachts, 147 ft waves, life rafts and sea-air rescues – and we thought we had a tough day on the water today!

You can track races live here  or see daily results as they happen

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Day 2 – Races 4 and 5  British yachtsman Richard Powell snatched victory on the final spinnaker run of race five of the SB20 Worlds today, ending a boat-for-boat duel between Tasmanians Brett Cooper and Michael Cooper.

As they crossed the finish line it was Powell at the helm of Marvel first by four seconds from Brett Cooper with Aeolus and a further 10 seconds to Michael Cooper’s Export Roo.

However, Michael Cooper’s race had ended at the start of race five where race officials had handed him a UFD disqualification for a breaking the start.
Nevertheless, Cooper’s Export Roo maintains the overall lead, discarding the UFD penalty of 60 points for a net score of 16 points. In race four, the first of the day Export Roo placed ninth.

Results of today’s racing are provisional with several protests lodged between competitors and against the race committee’s decisions.

The UFD penalty has cut Export Roo’s overall lead from 13 at the end of day one to just five at the end of day two, with Marvel moving from tenth in standings to second with a fine day of sailing for a 2-1 result.

Third overall is another British boat, John Pollard’s Xcellent which today placed 14th and third, the 14th its drop race.

Australian SB20 champion Aeolus, skippered by Brett Cooper, had a great day on the water, winning race four and finishing a close second in race five. This, and the discard, has lifted Aeolus from 15th after day one to fourth overall.

Next best Australian boat is Greg Prescott’s 2Unlimited in sixth place, today notching up a 5-7 score.

Robin Follin, the French Youth Team skipper of Take Me 5 and winner of the Pre-Worlds, had two thirds today to be seventh overall but the top French team is Le Grand Reservoir/Mazet & A (Achille Nebout) in fifth place.

Provisionally, the top ten placings after two days and five of scheduled 12 races are: 

1. Export Roo (Michael Cooper, AUS) 16 points (3-3-1-9-(60UFD)
2. Marvel (Richard Powell, GBR) 21 points (10-(32)-8-2-1)
3. Xcelllent (John Pollard, GBR) 27 points (6-12-6-(14)-3)
4. Aeolus (Brett Cooper, AUS) 30 points ((26)-16-11-1-2)
5. Le Grand Reservoir/Mazet & A (Achille Nebout, FRA) 31 points2-11-7-(25)-11)
6. 2Unlimited (Greg Prescott, AUS) 34 points ((25)-7-15-5-7)
7. Give Me 5 – French Youth Team (Robin Follin, FRA) 37 points ((60BFD)-8-3-3-23)
8. EOLIFT Racings (Hugo Feydit, FRA) 62 points (13-17-5-(23)-4)
9. Binn Edair (Cillian Dickson, IRE) 64 points (8-23-4-(24)-5
10. Honey Badger (Paul Burnell, AUS) 72 points (19-1-14-8-(3).

Xcellent heads the Masters scoring, Give Me 5 the Youth division and Essence of Athena (Clare Dabner) the six Women’s crews.

Two more days of racing remain with seven races scheduled.

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Today the fleet at the SB20 World Championship got the hop on the kids of Ireland by going back to school a day early writes Irish crewman Ted Laverty in Hobart.

Trickier than a game of poker at a wizard’s conference, the Derwent in Hobart, Tasmania served up variable conditions to test the whole fleet. The points spread after 3 races is now such that the local Hobart crew aboard Export Roo (Michael cooper, David Chapman and Gerry Mitchell) who placed second in the 2017 worlds in Cowes, finished with 6 points giving them a commanding 13 point lead over their nearest rival, the French crew of Le Grand Reservoir/Mazet & A (Achille Nebout). That kind of day.

The feeling in the club house, where a generous spit roast was served to all competitors in 25c of evening sunshine, was that the majority of crews are hoping they have sailed at least one of their projected 2 discards today.

That said, hats off to the Irish youth crew of Bin Eadiar (Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling, Diana Kissane) who had a strong day with an 8th,23rd,4th and lie in 5th place overall tonight with the bonus of being the leading youth boat of the championship. Some achievement and, given their impressive performances of late, it’s a position they certainly have the ammunition to sustain.

So what made the sailing conditions so difficult to read? Perhaps I am not the most qualified to offer a comprehensive assessment, but it goes something like this. Significant wind shifts, 2 separate breeze systems (both sea breezes apparently) and random holes in the middle of the course that appeared without much warning. Add variable wind speeds from about 5 knots to 25 knots and a river emptying out onto the race course just to complicate matters. It’s certainly a learning curve and one I believe not many locations can match.

The remaining Irish crews aboard (Sin Bin) and both sailed within themselves today with 17th and 34th overall. The silver cloud for the former is that just 4 points separate them from 10th place overall. Like I said, that kind of day.

On our boat ( there is a feeling that we left something out on the race course today – and we want it back! Lots of racing left down here and the Irish boats are representing well. Once we crack this place, anything is possible.

You can track races live or see daily results as they happen here

SB20 HobartCharge of the spinnakers on day one of the SB20 worlds. Photo: Jane Austin

Additional reporting by Peter Campbell

Export Roo hops to the lead in SB20 Worlds

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 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.

This has given Export Roo a commanding early lead in the four-day, 12-race regatta for these high performance, one-design sportsboat, crewed by three or four sailors, men, women and teenagers, with skippers ages ranging from 13 to 60 years plus.

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 knots to !8 knots of the end of the day.

After three races, Export Roo has six 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

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.

Today’s three races produced three winners, Export Roo, The Honey Badger and a Russian crew of MST who arrived in Hobart late last week and did not contest the Pre-Worlds.

Vasily Grigoriev and his crew showed great downwind speed to snatch victory in race one, 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.

Leading ten boats after three races on day one:

Export Roo (Michael Cooper, AUS) 7 points (3-3-1)
Le Grand Reservoir/Mazet & A (Achill Nebout, FRA) 20 points 2-11-7)
Xcellent (John Pollard, GBR) 24 points (6-12-6)
Honey Badger (Paul Burnell, AUS) 34 points (19-1-14)
Binn Edair (Cillian Dickson, IRE) 35 points (8-23-4)
EOLIFT Racing (Hugo Feydit, FRA) 35 point (13-17-5)
2Unlimited (Greg Prescott, AUS) 47 points (25-17-15)
Team Musto (George Peacock, AUS) 48 points (32-4-12)’
Flirtatious/Ambition Racing (Chris Dare, AUS) 49 points (29-18-2)
Marvel (Richard Powell, GBR) 50 point z(10-32-8).

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After a blustery pre-world SB20 championships, in which one of three Irish boats made the top ten, Dublin Bay crew man Ted Laverty previews tomorrow's first race of the World Championships in Hobart. 

“The visitors I’ve spoken to have been a little anxious about some of the squalls that have been whistling through the car park over the last couple of days. I’ve explained to them how we sometimes need to tie our boats down to stop them blowing around and that 180 degree wind shifts are quite common - but I’m not entirely sure they believe me.” Stephen Catchpool, SB20 Australia Class President

This place has it all. Unpredictable breeze with gusts that top out anywhere north of 30 knots, estuary conditions and a bay hugged by elevated terrain dominated by the impressive Mount Wellington to the North west, the Derwent river in Hobart, Tasmania will provide a serious challenge to an international fleet of over 60 boats competing for the 2018 SB20 World championships over the next 4 days.

One of Three Irish crews have to make the trip south of down under, our challenge is complicated further still by the quality of the competition here. Multiple world champions, a sprinkling of professional crews and experienced local sailors with local knowledge will make the task difficult for visiting boats.

Difficult but by no means impossible. Reigning Corinthian world champion Mick O’Connor, John Malone and Ed Cook in (Sin Bin) posted improving results to secure a 9th overall in this weeks pre-world practice regatta. Race 6 showed them recovering well from a poor start to work their way up the fleet to 6th position. It could be they are peaking just at the right time. Additionally the Irish youth team on Bin Eadair (Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling, Diana Kissane) impressively won line honours in race 5, only to be disappointed for being called over the start line. Their display of boat speed and teamwork proves their credentials for the main event.

Our crew on (Ger Dempsey, Ted Laverty, Emily Pollard, Chris Nolan) remain optimistic of a strong showing after blowing off seasonal cob webs and sailing together for the first time to post 23rd overall. Our boat handling and coordination definitely improved as we navigated through major wind shifts and gusts up to 35 knots while hitting 16 knots of boat speed on one downwind leg. Some sleigh ride!

Hosted jointly by the Derwent Sailing Squadron and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the event setup is impressive, surpassed only by the naturally friendly demeanor of the locals. There’s a real community feel to the fleet down here and so far it’s been a joy to be a part of. Today (a lay day) after lifting out and polishing the hull, we were treated to an outback BBQ and tour of a local apple farm and organic cider producer by Andrew Smith from Willie Smiths Cider. It’s just a pity that tomorrow is a work day!

First gun is 13.00hrs local time. The forecast is for light winds from the west. That could mean gusts of 25 knots from the South East. Or No wind at all. Welcome to the Derwent – Let the games begin!

You can track races live or see daily results as they happen here

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Michael O'Connor from the Royal St. George YC made it into the top ten of the SB20 Pre–World Championships Regatta that concluded yesterday. Ger Dempsey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club was 23 with Howth Yacht Club's Cillian Dickson 25th. 

French youth sailor and former world champion Robin Follin has emerged as hot favourite for the SB20 World championship on Hobart’s River Derwent, starting on Sunday. Helming Give Me 5 – French Youth Team, Follin (FRA) this afternoon won his third out of six races in the SB20 pre-Worlds regatta, taking out the last race with French flair.

In 2015 Follin became the first and only youth sailor to win an SB20 World title, at Trentino in Italy, and still qualifies for the youth division at the age of 25.

Follin and his crew also won the Youth and Corinthian trophies for the Pre-Worlds. The Masters went to Jerry Hill (GBR) the current world champion.

In today’s racing in a brisk 10-15 knot south-easterly sea breeze, Give Me 5 finished ninth (their discard) in race five, but there was no question of his dominance as he clinched an overall victory with a last race win.

He finished with a net 9 points from placings of 1-1-2-4-(8)-1, eleven points clear of his nearest rivals, Export Roo (Michael Cooper, AUS) who finished on 19 points with a scorecard of (12)-4-7-1-2- 5.

Third place went to current Australian champion Brett Cooper in Aeolus on 29 points (11-6-3-5-(18)-4) with fourth place going to current world champion (Jerry Hill) who did not compete in the final race.

Two other French boats followed in the final standings, Le Grand Reservoir/Mazet &A (Achille Nebout) on 35 points, EOLIFT Racing (Hugo Feynit) on 37 points.
Next best of the Australian boat was (Matt Pilkington) who placed eighth after winning race five, followed by the Irish entry Sin Bin (Michael Connor) and two Tasmanian boats Karabos (Nick Rogers) and Porco Rosso (Elliott Noye).

In race 5 the Irish boat Binn Eadair (Cillian Dickson) crossed the finish line first only to find he had been called UFD and disqualified for breaking the start.

This resulted in being first, Export Roo second and, third

In race six, Honey Badger (Paul Burnell) was also called UFD.

Tomorrow is a lay day, with the first two races of the SB20 World Championship 2018 scheduled for Sunday, 7 January.

In race 5, the Irish boat Binn Eadair (Cillian Dickson) crossed the finish line first only to find he had been called UFD and disqualified for breaking the start.

This results in being first, Export Roo second and third

In race six, Honey Badger (Paul Burnell) was also called UFD.

Full (provisional) results are here

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Royal St. George's Michael O'Connor, John Malone and Ed Cook are 15th overall after day two of the SB0 pre-Worlds regatta that has provided competitors with two exhilarating races on Hobart’s River Derwent today.

The World Championships start on Sunday and continuing to next Thursday and three Irish boats are competing, details here.

A north-west to west-nor’westerly breeze averaging 16-18 knots, with sharp gusts as high as 30 knots, has seen spectacular downwind sailing.

Positions changed as boats picked up the gusts and went surfing past others. Downwind gybing techniques were the key to gaining or retaining fleet positions

The strong wind has caused many retirements from the 33 boat pre-Worlds fleet, among them the French boat EOLIFT Racing which broke a spreader. EOLIFT Racing had been third in overall standings after day one.

Others retired to save damage in the gusty conditions with the 2018 SB20 Worlds only three days away. Hypertronics (Steve Catchpool) retired after a collision at the windward mark in race one with Big Ted (Alice Grubb) taking a penalty turn.

The Victorian Ikon20 (Kirwan Robb) broke its rudder in race four while at least two female crews retired from the last race.

Racing today began after a general recall for race three of the series, race one of the day, and produced two different race winners.

Results are provisional as there are potential protests following a number of collisions in the brisk breezes.

British boat Marvel (Richard Powell) followed his race two second place (he did not start in race one) with a win in race three. A close second was French sailor Robin Follin sailing Give Me 5 – French Youth team, third place going to Australian champion Aeolus (Brett Cooper).

In race four, Hobart’s Michael Cooper sailed Export Roo to victory from another French boat, Le Grand Reservoir/Maze & A (Achille Nebout) and Victorian boat Flirtatious/Ambition Sailing Team (Chris Dare, AUS).

After four races of the SB20 pre-Worlds Give Me 5 (Robin Follin, Fra) is still provisional overall leader on 8 points (1-1-2-4) with Export Roo (Michael Cooper, AUS) moving up to second with 24 points (12-4-7-1).

Australian SB20 champion Aeolus (Brett Cooper, AUS) is now third on 25 points (11-6-3-5) with defending World champion (Jerry Hill, GBR) fourth on 28 points (5-3-8-12).

Full (provisional) results are here

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Final preparations are now underway for the three Irish teams travelling to the 2018 SB20 World Championships in Hobart, Tasmania. The event, co-hosted by the Derwent Sailing Squadron and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, will run from 7th – 11th January 2018, preceded by a pre-Worlds tune-up regatta running from 2nd – 5th January 2018. Competition will be fierce with 6 out of the top 7 teams from the 2016 World Championships competing in Tasmania, complemented by a strong local fleet boasting former Dragon, Moth and Mumm 30 World Champions amongst their talented ranks. The three Irish teams, Team Binn Eadair, and are under no illusion that they are in for a fight when they take to the start line in just under three weeks’ time. However, close and competitive racing has been a hallmark and indeed one of the attractions of the popular and friendly fleet.

Team Binn Éadair are a youth sailing team comprising of Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling and Diana Kissane. Cillian, Sam and Gordon were part on the Ireland's Eye Killcullen team that finished 3rd in the 2015 J24 Europeans. Since then they’ve teamed up with match racer Diana, who had spent a number of years competing in the prestigious WIM Series, to launch an SB20 campaign. “The Irish SB20 class is really strong at the moment, when you race in an event here you really are competing against some of the best SB20 sailors in the world. We’re really excited to travel to Hobart with seasoned SB20 campaigners Ger and Michael and see what we can learn”. The boat, Binn Éadair, is the 4th production boat built and much of 2017 has been spent getting it up to the standard required to compete at world championship level. The team aim to use the Australian event as a springboard for the 2018 Europeans on home waters in September 2018.

The Royal Irish Yacht Club team of will see regulars Ger Dempsey and Chris Nolan join forces with experienced SBer Ted Laverty of the National Yacht Club and Emily Pollard of Royal Torbay Yacht Club. This new crew combination will bring the team to the maximum crew weight of 270 Kg which many believe is essential to compete at the highest level in this fleet. The team travel to Australia on the 26th December which will allow almost two weeks of training on the local tricky waters of the Derwent River before battle in the World Championships commences. This will be the 5th Worlds for the team and their first in the southern hemisphere. “As always we look forward to meeting a mix of both professional & Corinthian sailors, one of the attractions of this class, and inviting them to Dun Laoghaire to the Royal Irish Yacht club for the 2018 Europeans,” commented helm Ger Dempsey. also have a new crew combination for this event with John Malone taking over middle man responsibilities from Davy Taylor of the successful 2016 World Championship team. John joins the Royal St. George Yacht Club’s Michael O'Connor and Edward Cook as they attempt to improve upon their 6th place overall finish and Corinthian World title at the 2016 World Championships. “The SB20 is predominantly about teamwork, getting the three or four crew members working together and minimizing mistakes. To that end, we have been out practicing in Dun Laoghaire, bedding in the basic manoeuvers and trying to get up to speed before we travel to Tasmania. Hobart looks like a very tricky venue with 30 degree shifts commonplace. We have been very lucky to have been able to draw on the experience of John Lavery (former Fireball World Champ), Peter Bowring, Ben Duncan and others in our efforts to familiarise ourselves with the venue and they have been very generous with their time,” said O'Connor.

So far, 59 boats are signed up for the event with the Australian fleet bolstered by no less than 20 visitors from as far afield as Ireland, the UK, France, Italy and Russia. Numbers are expected to top 60 by the time the World Championships gets under way on 7th January.

Irish crewman Ted Laverty will be reporting for from Tasmania

More on the Irish SB20 Worlds and Euros in the Irish Times here

Published in SB20
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Page 5 of 23

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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