Eleven SB20s braved a moderate northerly wind and Baltic conditions for the second and final day of the Key Capital Private sponsored Spring Warmer Series in Howth Yacht Club. Due to the loss of the second race last weekend, the Race Committee signalled their intention to have three races on Day 2 to complete the four race series.
Race 1 saw a much more competitive fleet challenging for position on the line (looks like the training with Mark Rhodes is paying off already!) with Lia (Dave, Ollie and Patrick) having a peach of a start hitting the pin end at speed and leading the fleet out towards the favoured left hand side of the course. At the weather mark, the tide was causing havoc pushing boats below the starboard tack layline and forcing one or two to bail out and try again. First around was Sin Bin (Michael, Owen and John) followed closely by Two Men and a Monkey (Daragh, Shane and John) and Lia in third. At this stage, the wind was gusting in the teens which was sufficient to get the boats planing so the fleet took off and happily careered down the run towards the leeward mark. Two Men and a Monkey called the leeward mark layline to perfection and snuck inside Sin Bin and Lia.
Up the next beat, it was critical to get the shifts right and the biggest gains were made by VenuesWorld.com (Ger, Chris, Rory and Maeve) who picked their way beautifully up the beat, catching a nice little right hander at the end to lead around the second weather mark. However, being in front is never an easy place to be in an SB20 going downwind in planing conditions and both Two Men and a Monkey and Sin Bin were gunning for the lead. The three lead boats rounded the leeward mark within 4 boatlengths of each other, Two Men and a Monkey once again showing a great turn of speed to lead at the leeward mark from Sin Bin and Venuesworld.com in third. With only a short beat to finish, Sin Bin peeled off left straight after the leeward mark and was covered immediately by Two Men and a Monkey while VenuesWorld.com continued on out right. The left was paying at this stage and it was clear that Venuesworld.com would have to be content with third. Two Men and a Monkey tacked for the line (as it turned out) a little early while Sin Bin held out a boatlength more before tacking. The boats charged for the line on port with Sin Bin hitching into a little more pressure to squeeze over the line at the pin with about a foot to spare over Two Men and a Monkey in second. Lia came in fourth with Bango (James, Jerry and Jimmy) rounding off the top five. In sixth place were SB20 newbees Diana Kissane and Clara Hynes with the old (SB) head of Ronan Downing overseeing proceedings on Manamana. They showed some very impressive turns of speed and we hope to see a lot more of them over the coming season.
Race 2 saw the breeze abate slightly and become increasingly shifty. The tide was almost slack meaning pressure and shifts were the top priority. A good competitive start by the fleet once more meant that it was neck and neck going up the first beat. A massive left hander half way up the first beat that refused to go back again left those on the right including Bango, Lia and Sin Bin way out the back of the fleet with much work to do. At the first weather mark Venuesworld.com along with Project Mayhem (Davey Taylor et al), Seriously Bonkers (Peter Lee et al), Two Men and a Monkey, Manamana and Martin Reilly Motors (Colin Galavan, Chris Arrowsmith et al) were all battling it out for the lead. The decrease in pressure and massive left hander meant the second run was all about soaking down to the leeward mark on a long starboard gybe. With the boats ahead going higher to protect their breeze, this gave the boats behind to catch up and the fleet compressed towards the leeward mark once more.
The second beat was, in a word, brutal. Massive unforgiving shifts meant either huge gains or massive losses. The two rockstars of the second beat were Bango (James, Jerry and Jimmy) and Lia (Dave, Ollie and Patrick) (so good we’ve named them twice!). Bango went from last place at the leeward mark to 4th at the weather while Lia went from 9th to 2nd on the second beat and we still have no clue quite how they both managed it! By the second weather mark, the wind had now swung around to the right meaning a long soak on port gybe this time down to the leeward mark. Some boats tried unsuccessfully to “heat it up” and get on the plane but those that soaked seemed to fare better in the end with the least distance sailed.
Venuesworld.com won handsomely for their maiden win in their shiny new tub followed by Lia and Two Men and a Monkey in third. Behind the first three places, the fleet behind were compressing at the leeward mark with six boats in fourth to ninth places within approximately six boatlengths of each other rounding the last mark for the short beat to finish. Right in the mix was Monkey, helmed for the first time in a series by Mikey with SB20 regular Morrough Kavanagh keeping him focused. In the end it was all about getting a lane with some clear air on the short beat to finish. With so many boats in such a small area, going out right after the leeward mark paid dividends as these boats had starboard tack advantage coming in to the finish line. Bango crossed the line in fourth just ahead of Sin Bin in fifth with Seriously Bonkers, Project Mayhem, Monkey and Corona Extra all finishing within approximately 2 boatlengths of each other.
The Race Committee were anxious to try and get a third race in (and fourth for the series) to allow the discard to kick in and they gave the wind every opportunity to settle. However by now the wind had dropped further and at one stage was down to three knots and shifting through 40 degrees. When a hailstorm went through, pelting the competitors, the Race Committee obviously took this as an omen that it was just not meant to be and they called the fleet ashore. With three races and no discard, the win went to Sin Bin on 8 points by the slenderest of margins from Two Men and a Monkey on 9 points. In third was Venuesworld on 11 points and Lia pipped Bango for the fourth place tiebreaker on 12 points.
After racing, Mark Rhodes debriefed the fleet and used some video footage to good effect to demonstrate bailing out techniques at the start, faster gybing techniques in a blow and tactical considerations both upwind and downwind. The fleet already has shown remarkable progress after dusting off the cobwebs last weekend and the next event is expected to be a lively affair.
Next up for the class is the Northern Championships in Carlingford Lough on 23rd/24th April. We hope to see a strong fleet there for an exciting new venue for the class. Word has it that Venuesworld.com will no longer be the newest kid on the block with Jerry and Jimmy taking delivery of their new hull this week. Exciting times ahead for the SB20