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SB3 One Design Class Adapts to Change on Dublin Bay

25th April 2012
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SB3 One Design Class Adapts to Change on Dublin Bay

#SB3 – How sailing classes cope with recession has been a talking point over the winter months in yacht clubs across Ireland. Little spare time and sailors under financial pressure means all classes are re-evaluating what they are offering. It means many classes are seeking to re-engineer fixtures and events in order to meet the changing circumstances. Most agree that a strong club racing bedrock is essetial for any class to be successful in the longer term – there are quite a few high profile casualities who chose the 'events only' route and avoiding more classes falling by the wayside is going to be tricky.

Riding on the tail end of the wave of initial success, the SB3 class, one of the biggest in the country, has been having just this debate and it has made some decisions about safeguarding own future on Dublin Bay.

Sunday event style racing has been a major part of the success of the class on the Bay and Ireland is one of the few places in the world where there is a successful club racing scene for SB3s.

Since its arrival in Ireland about five or six years ago, the SB3 class has enjoyed spectacular success with more than 60 boats in the country.

Looking to the future the class administrators in Dublin Bay led by new class captain Doug Smith; Justin Burke and Barry O'Neill had intensive dialogue with SB3 sailors starting last Autumn seeking their views on how to build on past success.

After much debate and further consultation it was decided to trial a new formula for the 2012 season with the following key findings and results with some relevant to all classes in these difficult times.

The success of the SB3 class is reflected by:

• An active Club racing scene in Dublin Bay with entries of 25 +. Typical turn outs on Thursdays in the high teens and Sundays in the low teens

• A competitive Events Circuit with entries for the four regional events typically in the 20s (more than most keel boats would muster for their Nationals) and entries for the National Championships and the likes of Dun Laoghaire Week usually 40 + boats.

• Ireland hosted the inaugural class World Championship in the N Y C when more than a hundred SBs showed up. Since then the World Championship formula of 100 + boats was repeated in Lake Garda and Torbay and plans are in place for the next World Championship in Hamilton Island , Australia in December

The success in Dublin Bay was largely attributed to three factors:

1 An exciting boat, offering competitive one design racing at an affordable price -- nothing like rolling downhill in an SB with the kite up in a Force 4+ ! With the asymmetric kite so easy to control, crew needs of only 3, and minimum maintenance costs, the boat is simply a joy to own and sail

2 A mould breaking racing formula of offering event standard DBSC windward /leeward racing (so important for an asymmetric race boat ) on a Sunday in a largely empty Dublin Bay

3 The traditional Thursday trip around the cans -- improved significantly last year when DBSC introduced Committee Boat starts /finishes

SB3 dublin bay

SB3s are the biggest one design class racing on Dublin Bay

The Debate

Looking to the future, the class administrators in Dublin Bay led by new class captain Doug Smith; Justin Burke and Barry O'Neill had intensive dialogue with SB sailors starting last autumn seeking their views on how to build on past success . A number of themes emerged -- including:

• All thought the boat a joy to sail

• Some focused on Dublin Bay SC club racing -- while others preferred to focus more on the Events circuit

• This led to some debate reflecting the facts that :

• The Club Racing focused boats had some concerns about the commitment involved in campaigning properly in DBSC as in effect this tied up crews most /all weekends between April and end September = 5 months – a BIG ask these days !

• While the Events focused boats fretted they could never be really competitive in a DBSC Series when missing as many as four or five Sundays each season

All SB sailors agreed the Sunday DBSC racing was a winner. There was simply huge enthusiasm for a 2 p.m. sharp start + two competitive W/ L races and all finished by about 4 – 30. But how could the needs of the "Eventers" vs. the "Club Racers" are accommodated?

Towards a Solution

After much debate and further consultation with SB sailors -- it was decided to trial a new formula for season 2012 -- specifically :

• Take a fairly radical step and reduce the number of DBSC Sundays from around 20 Sundays to 10. Each DBSC Sunday in 2012 will start at 12 – 30 a.m. (rather than 2 p.m.) and have three W/ L races rather than two. This means that over the season the Club racers will do nearly as many DBSC races as in 2011 -- but more focused and time efficient.

• Ensure DBSC Sundays did not clash with Regional event week –ends

• Split the 10 Sundays into 5 Series of two Sundays – roughly two Sundays per month.

• As part of the re-engineering, the SB Class addressed the issue of Line Duty. While it is recognised that DBSC Line duty is vitally important, in effect this means one boat had to drop out each Sunday . The SB class drove a pairing arrangement with dinghy/PY classes so SB sailors do their duty on Saturdays and dinghy /PY crew help with SB sailing on Sundays – Nett result is better class turn outs all round.

The Result

The new format was widely accepted in that it means that:

• DBSC club racing focused boats would continue to have brilliant racing -- but more focused on 10 Sundays rather than around 20 with 3 races rather than 2 -- so some weekends off to do other things without losing points.

• Events focused boats can now do BOTH events and DBSC club racing without being penalised

• SBers wishing to race every weekend as in the past can do so by combining the Club + Regatta + Events circuits

A positive outcome of the re- engineering of the class offering is the arrival of a couple of new SBs to Dublin Bay + some garage stored SBs are now scheduled to be back on the race track and indeed Roger Bannon has been lured out of SB retirement as he went and bought a new SB. The new format DBSC SB formula kicks off this weekend and the National YC host the first Regional event (The Eastern Championships) on May 12th/13th.

With competitive second hand boats changing hands for between €8,000 and €10,000 the class says there will never be better chance to join in the fun!

Contacts

Class Captain Doug Smith ([email protected]) at the RIYC ; Barry O'Neill ([email protected]) at the R.St.G.YC. or Justin Burke ([email protected])) at the National YC. They are willing to arrange a trial sail for interested parties.

Published in SB20
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