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Jerry Dowling's Bad from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads the SB20 National Championships at the National Yacht Club going into the final day of the 18–boat championships this morning. It looks likely there'll be the same big breeze same conditions for the final two races that produced a top speed of 18–knots on the water yesterday too. It's a Dun Laoghaire dominated nationals so far after six races sailed with second place overall  currently held by the defending champion Michael O'Connor from the Royal St. George YC on 18 points and Dowling's club mate Ger Dempsey one point behind in third. Full results to date downloadable below.

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Tomorrow evening's DBSC race will serve as the unofficial practice race for the SB20 fleet that will race for National title honours on Dublin Bay on Friday in a three day event from the National Yacht Club.

18 entries have been recevied so far with front runners including defending champion Michael O'Connor from the Royal St. George YC. Aidan O'Connell who took overall fleet honours last year and the Northern Championships title this year is also entered. Cork's Dave Barry, winner of the Easterns and Ger Dempsey winner of the Western champs are all in the frame.

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The SB20 Irish National Championships takes place at the National YC in Dun Laoghaire in a fortnight (5-7 August) and local DBSC competition at the host venue on Dublin Bay has been full–on. Last weekend Sin Bin (Michael O'Connor, Emmet Ryan & James Ryan) had the best results in last Saturday's racing but Sacrebleu (John O'Driscoll, Justin Burke, Chris Arrowsmith) holds onto the overall lead in DBSC's Saturdays series two but there's a group of three boats chasing not too far behind. See overall results below. 

This Saturday (23rd July) is the 8th Saturday of the DBSC Saturday series and the third Saturday of Series 2. There are as usual 2 back to back windward leeward races and our start is at 14:15.

SATURDAY DBSC RACING 

There were 2 DBSC races last Saturday. The top 3 were:

Race 1 - (1) Sin Bin (Michael O'Connor, Emmet Ryan, James Ryan) (2) Sacre Bleu (John O'Driscoll, Justin Burke, Chris Arrowsmith) (3) Seriously Bonkers (Sam Hunt, Peter Lee, Paddy Blackley). Race 2 - (1) Defiant (Gerry Jones, Davy Taylor, Rory Byrne) (2) Venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey, Maeve Judge, Rory Grovez, Chris Nolan) (3) Sin Bin

Saturday's Series 2 Overall - (1) Sacre Bleu 5 points (2) Sin Bin 8 points (3) Venuesworld.com 9 points (4) Bango 10 points.

THURSDAY DBSC RACING

The top 3 last Thursday evening were (1) Venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey, Rory Grovez, Chris Nolan) (2) Sacre Bleu (Richard Hayes, Chris Arrowsmith, Peter Lee) (3) Bad Kilcullen (Jerry Dowling, Jimmy Dowling, David Dowling).

Thursday's Series 2 Overall - (1) Venuesworld.com 4 points (2) Sacrebleu 8 points (3) Alertpackaging.com 14 points.

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The SB20 Western Championships were hosted by Mayo Sailing Club last weekend, one of the new destinations the fleet has been visiting this season. Fleet numbers suffered due to the clash with the ICRAs, but the sailors who travelled were rewarded in full, what a fantastic sailing destination.

Mayo Sailing Club delivered world class race management under the stewardship of RO Colin McMullen and his team.

Seven 50 minute races over two days ensured everyone got what they came for, and Clew Bay played its part with steady westerly breeze of 10–15 knots, holding for the duration. Apart from 1 major shift, under a rain squall on Sunday, the race track stayed steady and the racing was fair.

As always in this fleet, which boasts national champions from many classes, racing was tight, and anyone could emerge victorious. This time it was RIYC’s venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey, Blair Stanaway, Chris Nolan & Maeve Judge) winning their first regional championship in their new boat. A sweet victory in local waters for Blair, current commodore of Mayo Sailing Club, who has joined the team for the SB20 World Championship this September in Cascais.

Two Men and their Monkey from Howth (Daragh Sheridan, Shane Murphy & John Phelan), followed by Sharkbait out of Strangford Lough (Darren Martin, Roger Pannell, Simon Murray) completed the podium, with last month’s Eastern Championships winner, Lia ( Dave Barry et al), suffering the consequences of a U flag and a broken halyard.

The SB20s will now be based on Dublin Bay for the forthcoming club regattas, followed by their National Championships in the National Yacht Club from 5-7 August with a fleet in excess of 25 boats expected, and prizes sponsored by Dubarry, Sportsboat World and venuesworld

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#DBSC - With just two points separating the top three SB20s, fireworks were guaranteed for the final day and last two races of Saturday Series 1, writes Michael O'Connor.

Series leader Bango (James Gorman, Philip Lawton and Keith Staunton) held the slenderest of leads over the chasing pack, including Alert Packaging (Justin Burke et al) and Sin Bin (Michael O'Connor et al), but with Beijing 470 Olympian Lawton on board Bango calling the shots, they certainly came prepared for the fight.

Two races were scheduled in a light (6-10 knots) shifty east-northeasterly breeze that was oscillating through 40 degrees over the course of the day. The patchy and shifty breeze meant that there were big gains or losses to be made on each leg so it definitely wasn't over until you had crossed the finish line.

Race 1 saw a split of the fleet up the first beat, with Bango, Smoke on the Water (Bob Hobby, Louise McKenna et al) and Sin Bin going right in search of pressure and Alert Packaging, Bad (Jerry and Jimmy Dowlng), Defiant (G Jones et al), Timber (Marty Cuppage) and Sunday Brunch (Dave Dwyer at al) choosing the left.

A big left-hand shift up the first beat meant that 'the lefts' certainly had it and Alert Packaging, Defiant and Bad led into the weather mark while series leader Bango and Sin Bin had much work to do to catch up.

Down the first run, Alert Packaging and Bad gybed off onto port towards the left of the run in search of better breeze while Defiant, Bango and Sin Bin continued on on starboard towards the right of the run in expectation of the shift back. The right side of the run paid and by the leeward gate Alert Packaging held onto the narrowest of leads over Sin Bin and Defiant, who rounded the left-hand gate mark overlapped in hot pursuit of Alert Packaging.

Alert Packaging called the second beat beautifully, catching the breeze and the shifts to perfection and extended out their lead on the chasing pack. They rounded the weather mark with a handsome lead over the fleet and went on to take the gun after a leisurely stroll down the run followed by Sin Bin some distance behind in second.

There was still some drama to come, though, as Bango and Defiant were battling it out for third place coming into the final gate just to weather of the finish line. A quick gybing duel ensued and the more experienced heads on Bango saw them out gybe their rivals and get around the gate first and take third place.

Unfortunately for Defiant, disaster struck as they hit the gate mark, hooked it and dragged it out of position, much to the consternation of the following boats trying to finish. (It's a requirement to go through the gate on this last downwind leg.) Bad, Sunday Brunch and Smoke on the Water managed to take full advantage of their misfortune and claimed fourth, fifth and sixth places respectfully.

After the first race (race 7 of the series), the second discard kicked in, resulting in a shuffle at the top of the standings. Sin Bin now led by a few points from Bango and Alert Packaging but it was still all to play for as big numbers were possible in the light shifty breeze.

In the second race of the day, the final race of the first Saturday series, the OOD signalled three rounds of the outer course for the SBs. The majority of the fleet decided to go right up the first beat in search of pressure with the exception of Alert Packaging, Timber and Sunday Brunch. The rest of the fleet should really start paying attention to what these guys are doing because yet again they came up trumps at the weather mark. Again Sin Bin and Bango had left themselves with a lot to do.

A split down the run saw the fleet compress once more at the leeward gate and the back markers made gains on the leaders with Bango, Defiant and Sin Bin getting back in the hunt.

Bango and Sin Bin, keeping a watchful eye on each other, drag raced out to the right hand corner of the next beat taking some ground off Alert Packaging in the process who was methodically picking their way through the shifts up the middle of the beat.

It was definitely a day to be behind on the run and again the boats astern managed to make gains on the boats ahead on the second run. By the final leeward gate, Alert Packaging's lead had been cut to around four boat lengths from Sin Bin, with Bango a further four boat lengths back. So it was all down to the last lap.

The three lead boats got onto starboard tack immediately after the leeward gate and picked their way up the left side of the beat into the oncoming traffic of the squibs, sportsboat fleet, Dragons and Flying Fifteens. Tight covering tacks were being thrown in like confetti and with no quarter being asked or given, the oncoming traffic offered some opportunity for the following boats to break free from a tight cover.

Towards the top third of the beat, one such opportunity arose with Sin Bin managing to get some separation to the left of Alert Packaging. A favourable left-hand shift was enough to allow them sneak into a two-boat-length lead just before the weather mark.

Alert Packaging were not done yet, though, and chased hard down the run, gradually eating into Sin Bin's slender lead. As the two leaders simultaneously gybed onto port and sailed high towards the left side of the run – hoping to get over the boat ahead or protecting their breeze, depending on the boat you were in – Bango astern had one last throw of the dice and continued on starboard down the run to the opposite, right hand side of the course.

Alert Packaging, seeing that they couldn't quite get over the top of Sin Bin before the layline and in an effort to both overtake Sin Bin and keep in touch with Bango, gybed back onto starboard 15 boat lengths shy of the layline to the gate. So now we had Sin Bin out left, Alert Packaging in the middle and Bango out right –the top three boats in the series, all charging towards the final leeward gate to decide the winner.

Sin Bin continued to the starboard layline to the gate before gybing onto starboard 25 boat lengths out from the mark. Alert Packaging continued all the way to the port layline for the gate before gybing back onto port, 15 boat lengths out from the mark. Although Bango had gained massively out on the right hand side of the run, it wasn't quite enough to get ahead of Alert Packaging and they trailed them into the gate mark by two boat lengths.

With only a very short run to the finish after the gate (around five boat lengths) Bango's race was effectively run. It was all down to the cross between Alert Packaging and Sin Bin at the last leeward gate.

As the boats converged, Alert Packaging on the inside called for water at the last gate mark, five boat lengths for the finish. However, Sin Bin were clear ahead at the mark by about three-quarters of a boat length and snuck past for the win and the series, with Alert Packaging second in the race and the series and Bango taking third place in the race and third in the series.

It was very encouraging to see the new boys on Defiant and Timber and the prodigal sons (and daughter) on Sunday Brunch shaking it up at the top of the fleet with these boats leading or in the lead bunch around the first weather mark in both races. Without doubt they will be a force to be reckoned with once they get a bit more time in the boat and perfect their downwind gybing angles and gybes.

Next up for the fleet is the Westerns next weekend in beautiful Westport, Co Mayo with normal racing for those in Dublin Bay that can't make it.

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Lia (Dave Barry, Gareth Nolan, Sam Hunt & Rory Groves) were winners of the SB20 Eastern Provincial Championships. The regatta, run under the excellent stewardship of race officer Rupert Jeffares and the flag of Howth Yacht Club was challenging for all fleets at the Sportsboat Cup with predominantly light winds prevailing. The race course was shared by 4 fleets comprising twelve 1720s, eight J80s, three ½ Tonners and seventeen SB20s. All enjoyed the Mediterranean weather conditions, not quite T shirts & shorts, except for Marty Cuppage of course, but thermals were not required.

It is a signal of the welcome resurgence of the SB20 fleet with some boats coming out of storage such as Toucan (Ross Vaughan, Andrew Vaughan & Mattie O’ Dowd), Ridgefence.com (Peter Kennedy, Greg Bell & Stephen Kane), Sunday Brunch (Dave & Nick Dwyer & Barbara Heftman), Lupi d’Irlanda (Marco Sorgassi, Luca Corona & Deno Debic) and some new faces such as Timber (Marty Cuppage, Barry Glavin & Niall O’Riordan).

Friday saw the start of the 2nd Sportsboat Cup in Howth, now a biennial event and seven SB20s took to the water. Sailing took place in glorious sunshine and light winds of 6 to 10 knots in a Northeasterly breeze, conditions that were to hold for the following 2 days of sunbathing also. Former SB20 supremo, Ben Duncan made a guest appearance with his old bow Briany Moran and regular Shane Murphy and clearly showed that he was not the monkey on board ‘Two Men and a Monkey’ with 3 bullets out of 3. Keith Cassidy, Mick McCormack and Murrough Kavanagh were in flying form scoring a 2,2 and 4 proving Murrough’s new rig settings were in the money. One point behind in 3rd was VenuesWorld with Ger Dempsey, Blair Stanaway, Chris Nolan and Maeve Judge.

Saturday saw the start of the SB20 Eastern Provincial Championships with the fleet swelling to 17 boats. Lia got off to a flying start with a 3, 1 and 2 with staying in the pressure and consolidating any leads being the key ingredients and Sam Hunt navigating the fleet expertly on tactics and strategy. This run of form for Lia came to a grinding halt in Race 4 with a tide induced moment of intimacy with the weather mark, not the first or last boat to suffer such a humbling moment in the regatta, leaving Lia no way back through a competitive closely matched fleet. Toucan returned to the fleet after a break of a few years with a loud bang, recording a 4,5,6 and a 1. Chris Arrowsmith, Colin Galavan and David Cahill aboard MSS had a solid day scoring a 3,3 and 4 and Stefan Hyde with the Jimmy and Jerry Dowling double act on board Bad Kilcullen were well in the hunt with a 2,4,5,5 followed closely by James Gorman, Ted Laverty and Keith Staunton on Bango with a 2, 4 and 7.

So going into the Sunday it was wide open with 2 races scheduled and a discard for the inevitable clanger of a result that most were getting in the light conditions. MSS got off to a resounding start with a win in race one with Bad Kilcullen coming 2nd. Lia with Rory Grovez in the middle and Gareth Nolan providing consistency in presence and performance had to be happy with keeping Toucan a point behind with a 6th and 7th respectively. 4 boats were in the hunt going into the last race. Lia rounded the weather mark in 1st with the fleet in close pursuit. Toucan and Venuesworld reeled in Lia with some impressive downwind sailing with Two Men and a Monkey turning up for the party towards the end of the race also (rather joltingly for some) which secured the Sportsboat Cup victory for them over the 3 days. 2nd in the Sportsboat Cup on countback was MSS followed by Lia in third.

Race 6 finished Toucan 1st, Venuesworld 2nd and Lia third which was enough to provide Lia with their maiden victory on 15 points, followed closely by Toucan on 17 points, Bad Kilcullen on 18 points and MSS on 19 points. Lia had the benefit of super sub Rory Grovez in the middle on Sunday with Gareth Nolan providing the consistency in presence and performance up front.

The teams at the top of the finishing board were very different to the previous event. Many of the regular top finishers were down the fleet. Is this a signal of change in the fleet or will the old order be re-established at the next event? We shall see as the SB20 fleet keeps up its tradition of sailing in new and stunning locations with excellent choice of cuisine with the Western Provincial Championships on 11th and 12th June in Clew Bay, Mayo, hosted by Mayo Sailing Club, Westport, Co. Mayo.

The SB20 fleet extends a warm thanks to Howth Yacht club in its various guises as OOD, Rupert Jeffares, the fine cuisine and bar staff in HYC, Ross Macdonald, Aoife English, Dylan Gannon and their extended team who masterminded the Sportsboat Cup placing it permanently on everyone’s calendar going forward.

Full results from the SB20 Easterns can be downloaded below

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When you sail out to the racecourse in a westerly breeze inside the harbour and observe the boats outside the harbour in an easterly breeze, you know that Dublin bay has something a little unusual in store for you... Such was the predicament for the SB20 fleet last Saturday afternoon.

OOD Brian Matthews and his team set up a windward leeward course for the green fleet in a moderate (F4) easterly breeze. By the time the fleet had reached the weather mark, the wind had swung around 15 degrees to the right and had really started to growl... (the weather station on the pier recorded a gust of 29knts (F7) just before 3pm).

First around the weather mark was Venuesworld.com (Ger, Rory and Chris) followed closely by Sin Bin (Michael, Owen and John) and Alert Packaging (Justin, Henrik and Ed) with the chasing pack not far behind. The kites went up and the fleet cantered down the run in a now howling near gale. The wind against tide meant that there was an awkward lumpy sea and with the SBs reaching speeds of over 15knts, the boats seemed to bounce across the top of the waves like skimming stones. Sin Bin was the first to gybe off followed by Venuesworld and the boats weaved their way through the beating dragon fleet. A rare mistake by Venuesworld resulted in a broach mid gybe giving Sin Bin the opportunity to pass at the leeward gate. Most boats suffered a wipeout or two down the run with two boats leaving crew members behind (I told you it was hairy!) thankfully all crew members were safely retrieved.

By the second weather mark, Venuesworld had caught back up with Sin Bin and Alert Packaging was still very much in the hunt. All three boats gybed off early but half way down the run, the wind calmed and shifted to a southerly breeze. Alert packaging were first to react, taking their kite down for the fetch to the "leeward" gate and then to the finish just beyond. Alert Packaging skilfully took the win from Sin Bin in second and Venuesworld in third. Fourth place went to Bango (James, Dave and Keith) ahead of Timber (Marty, Gary et al) and Mephisto in sixth. Unfortunately, there were a number of retirees as boats struggled to retrieve their full complement of crew and others (honourable mention to Sunday Brunch (Dave et al)) assisted them in the process.

The OOD had a short postponement to allow the wind to settle and it eventually did settle (briefly) to a F3 from a westerly direction. First around the weather mark was Venuesworld who had tacked off to the right shortly after the start. They were followed around by Bango in second just ahead of Alert packaging in third, Timber in fourth and Sin Bin in fifth. Sunday brunch, Mephisto and Seriously Bonkers (Peter and Nick) were battling hard to catch up. As the boats made their way down the run, the wind began to die. Venuesworld opted for the left gate mark while Bango split and went for the right gate mark. Sin Bin were able to creep inside Alert Packaging in third place around the leeward behind clear leader Venuesworld.

As the boats made their way up the second and last beat, that's when things got weird... Depending on where you were on the course and when, you could have experienced entirely different conditions to those mentioned below but the following is an accurate account of what happened to at least one boat out on the right hand side of the course... First of all, the wind started to die and veer around to the northwest. Eventually, the wind shut off altogether across the course and at least one boat (ahem!) were sailing backwards for a while. Then, the breeze started to fill in from the north east so boats hoisted their kites and started running towards the "weather" mark. At the weather mark, Venuesworld kept a narrow lead from Bango and Alert Packaging and started beating back to the "leeward" gate. By now, Mephisto was back in on the action too. The stragglers including Sin Bin, Sunday Brunch and Timber experienced the wind shutting off once more and barely scraped around the weather mark in a light northeasterly (again).

Shortly after these last three boats rounded the weather mark, the wind shifted back to the west once more and started coming in waves of 20+knt gusts, sometimes from the southwest, sometimes from the northwest, alternating between the two. These three boats hoisted their kites and rode the gusts towards the leeward gate, gybing with each lull in expectation of the gust from the other direction shortly thereafter. Venuesworld managed to stay in the centre of the course while Bango had gone far right and Alert Packaging and Mephisto went centre left. Venuesworld held on for the win by a good distance while Sin Bin managed to carve a path between the boats ahead, gybing numerous times down the run to keep in phase and sneaked over the line in a photo finish ahead of Mephisto in third and Alert Packaging in fourth, all three boats broaching as they went over the finish line! Series leader Bango, forced to drop their kite and two sail reach to the finish, had to settle for fifth.

Several therapy sessions will be required before the next DBSC race weekend. There is a break from DBSC next weekend as the Sportsboat cup is on in HYC from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th inclusive, incorporating the SB20 Easterns on the Saturday and Sunday. Organisers are hoping for c. 20 boats in the SB20 fleet and with 11 already entered and 5 more confirmed, that's looking possible so great racing is in store.

Michael O'Connor

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Twenty SB20s headed to the Netherlands for the Dutch Grand Slam, part of the North Sea Regatta, sponsored by Delta Lloyd

The forecast was for big breezes on the racing area of Scheveningen, close to The Hague, and it didn’t disappoint. Strong winds and large waves dominated the first three days, together with strong tides to further challenge the sailors.

Although on Saturday the weather was too extreme to allow for racing, eight good races were held over the remaining three days with a closely matched tussle at the front between local fleet captain Marco van Driel on ‘MXTC’ (NED), the French ‘Ocean Team’ of Johan Ravier and British visitors Jerry Hill and ‘Sportsboatworld.com’.

Hill commented after racing: “We’ve had some very challenging conditions which were a test for many of the fleet, but the downwind legs with boats sailing at more than 20 knots will be remembered for a long time!”

Hill and the ‘Sportsboatworld.com’ team shared the first day honours with ‘MXTC’, each scoring a win and a second place. On day three Johann Ravier’s French squad had a solid day, winning two races and finishing all others in the two three to put together a very consistent scoreline.

Hill went on to win another race on the last day, but van Driel had scored two more race wins and discarded a fourth place to earn an all-podium results list and win the event. The final race of the event was won by Adrian Peach with ‘Uber’ (GBR). Ravier was second overall and Hill third.

Other visiting nations included teams from Ireland and Germany in this second European Grand Slam of the SB20 season. Off the water the teams enjoyed the atmosphere of the largest Dutch sailing event, which attracts around 2,500 sailors each year, as well as a bowling competition on their enforced layday (thanks to the Damen-sponsored crew) and an excellent class dinner at the yacht club.

The next Grand Slam event takes place at Cowes, during Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, from August 6-9, 2016.

Overall Results:
1st NED 3714 Marco van Driel 2 1 2 1 -4 1 2 3 12,0 pts
2nd FRA 3034 RAVIER Johan -9 4 1 2 1 2 3 2 15,0 pts
3rd GBR 3475 Jerry Hill 1 2 -7 3 2 3 1 7 19,0 pts
4th NED 3441 Paul Gast 3 7 (ocs) 4 3 4 7 6 34,0 pts
5th NED 3702 Martijn Buitenhuis 5 -6 5 6 6 6 6 5 39,0 pts

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The SB20 fleet enjoyed white water surfing conditions this evening on Dublin bay with speeds in excess of 15 knots being reported and plenty of wipeouts, (in some cases multiple!), across the fleet. The OOD opted for the relatively long (but perfect for the conditions) N2 course meaning a decent beat to harbour mark would be followed by a wild sleigh ride back down the bay towards Dalkey island and plenty of reaching legs thereafter to allow the SBs to "get up and dance".

There was an individual recall at the start with the heavy pin bias and the flooding tide catching Bad Kilcullen out on their first venture out in Dublin bay this season. The rest of the fleet managed to stay clean and drove off the line on starboard towards the shore in a fresh F4 SW breeze. One by one the boats peeled off onto port with Sin Bin (Michael, Dave and John) and Alert Packaging (Justin, Henrik and Ed) holding on starboard the longest before flipping over onto the "lumpier" port tack. This paid dividends for those two as the tide caught most of the fleet out resulting in practically all of the boats over-standing by some margin. Sin Bin and Alert Packaging, closer to the mark when making their approach, fared better than most and rounded in first and second with several boatlengths advantage on the chasing pack.

Around the mark, the kites went up and the boats took off! As the fleet hurtled towards Dalkey island at 15 knots, dancing across the waves, the crews struggled to tame the beasts and avoid expensive broaches. After the wild ride, a couple of short upwind/downwind legs followed testing the crews boat handling skills to the max, requiring slick hoists, drops and gybes to stay in the game. Unfortunately for Alert Packaging, they were caught out by a sudden gust on the second downwind leg causing them to spin out and lose valuable distance and places as they struggled to get the boat back on its feet. Unfortunately for Alert Packaging, in the melee that ensued, Venuesworld.com (Ger, Chris and Peter), Sacre Bleu (Richard, Colin and Mark) and Sunday Brunch (Dave et al) were able to overtake them. The fleet gamely battled on and were treated to a screaming reach across the bay from bay mark out to east followed by a beat back up towards the harbour to finish.

At the finish it was Sin Bin in first followed by Venuesworld.com in second and Sacre Bleu in third. The prodigal sons on Sunday Brunch battled back after an early broach to record another creditable fourth place finish ahead of Alert Packaging, Smoke on the Water (Bob et al) and Tiger Lite (Niall, Niallo and Ronan). Although there were plenty of smiles after racing, the fleet learnt that we have plenty of things to practice before the next breezy day! Some good breeze forecast for this Saturday (on one of the prediction models anyway!) so we may get to put what we learnt into practice sooner rather than later...

Read more: Full DBSC Thursday results

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Glorious sunshine and a fickle Easterly breeze greeted the SB20 fleet for the third DBSC Saturday of the season. The ranks were swelled by the return of Alert Packaging (Justin, Henrik and Ed) and Sin Bin (Michael, Owen and Ger) to the fleet.

Race 1 saw the fleet jostle for position on a heavily committee boat biased line but despite this they managed to get away at the first time of asking. The wind was very light (4-7knts) and oscillating through 40 degrees so staying in the pressure and keeping the boat moving were the orders of the day. After a short starboard tack off the line, Bango (James, Jimmy and Keith), Alert Packaging and Sin Bin tacked onto port in search of better breeze and in expectation of the forecasted right-handed shift. Venuesworld.com (Ger, Jerry and Chris), Animal Origami (Chris, Neil and Rob) and SacreBleu (Diane, Ronan and Corina) (having exonerated themselves after a starting line snafu) chose to minimise manoeuvers and continue out left in good pressure.

The pressure across the course was very localised and boats separated by only a few boatlengths could have wildly different headings and boat speeds, turning the race into a game of snakes and ladders. Up the first beat, the boats that chose the right hand side of the course fared best and it was Alert Packaging that rounded first ahead of Sin Bin with Bango in a close third. Down the run, Alert Packaging bravely but sensibly gybed off early allowing Sin Bin and Bango to continue on starboard gybe. The decision paid off in spades for Alert Packaging as the boats that had gone further right had to battle back against the tide on a very tight reach, barely holding their kites while Alert Packaging calmly made their way down the run on a much better heading with an eased kite. Alert Packaging chose to go to the down-tide right hand gate (looking down the course) while their pursuers split for the up-tide left hand gate. Unfortunately, due perhaps to a little rustiness and a current that was now beginning to “kick”, Alert Packaging were caught out and hit the leeward mark, requiring them to do a penalty turn. It is worthwhile mentioning that although they were too far ahead for anyone to see them hit the mark and the temptation to continue on must have been great, Alert Packaging did the honourable thing and took their penalty turn and their sportsmanship is to be applauded.

Up the second beat, the boats that had chosen the left hand gate and were further to the right hand side of the course seemed to get the best of the breeze on offer with Sin Bin taking the lead from Alert Packaging half way up the beat. The Race Committee sensibly signalled a shortened course and a finish at the weather mark. At the finish, Sin Bin took the win with Bango edging out Alert Packaging by a couple of boatlengths for second. Venuesworld.com recovered well after a difficult first beat to get back up to fourth just ahead of SacreBleu and Animal Origami.

Race 2 started in even lighter and shiftier conditions with the fleet battling upwind against a building tide. Again, there was a significant committee boat bias and the fleet bunched up at the committee boat in an effort to get a jump on the competition. Bango lead the fleet off the line with SacreBleu and Animal Origami also making good starts a little further down the line. The wind had shifted further to the right and the boats were almost fetching the weather mark on starboard tack. Shortly after the start, Venuesworld.com, Alert Packaging, Sin Bin and Sunday Brunch (Dave Dwyer et al) tacked onto port to hitch into a line of breeze just to weather of the fleet. The four boats sailed no more than 15 boatlengths into the new breeze and it really paid off for them as they were able to tack back onto starboard and sail higher and faster than the boats to leeward in a completely different breeze. Again, the speed differentials between boats separated by no more than a few boatlengths were significant and gains/losses of 20 boatlengths could be made in a couple of minutes. Patience while waiting for your turn to shine was vital.

The Race Committee, fearing a complete shut down in the breeze, signalled a change of course at the weather mark meaning the fleet only had to complete one lap by getting around the weather mark and running down to the finish. Sin Bin had managed to stay a little further to weather of the fleet and kept in the breeze for longer allowing them to round the weather mark in first and gybe quickly thereafter followed by Alert Packaging and Bango. The boats held those positions all the way to the finish. In a very creditable fourth place were Sunday Brunch making a very welcome return to DBSC sailing after a few years sabbatical followed by Venuesworld.com and Animal Origami.

After four races, Bango leads series 1 on 5 points followed by Alert Packaging and Venuesworld.com tied for second on 9 points. The long range forecast for next Thursday and Saturday are suggesting more wind so hopefully we will be back to downwind sleigh rides by then.

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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.

Competitions

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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