Ireland has four entries in the Cascais 2016 SB20 World Championships that start next week, from Tuesday 30 August, at the renowned venue of Cascais in Portugal. The Atlantic city of Cascais is synonymous with strong winds, large rolling waves, sunshine and great hospitality, making it an ideal venue for the one-design sportsboat world championship. Ger Dempsey will steer Royal Irish YC entry Venuesworld with Chris Nolan, Maeve Judge and Blair Stanaway on board. From Royal Cork, new Irish SB20 national champion Stefan Hyde will be sailing with Graeme Grant and 420 duo Douglas Elmes and Colin O Sullivan from Howth Yacht Club. Bango (James Gorman, Rory Fitzpatrick, Neil O'Toole & Laura Jackson) and Wahoo (Colin Galavan, Chris Arrowsmith & David Cahill) complete the line–up.
The entry list is packed with round the world sailors, Olympic medalists, and top keelboat sailors, who will be contesting this hard-fought championship from Tuesday, 30 August to Saturday, 3 September, with 14 races scheduled.
A superb fleet of 75 teams have entered from 13 nations, including the reigning champion crew from France who are back with new helmsman, young French 49er helm Gabriel Skoczek. The new team showed form by winning the Portuguese Nationals in June against many of the top contenders.
Rodion Luka from Ukraine, an Olympic Silver medalist in the 49er in 2004, has competed in the last six SB20 World Championships, finishing on the podium three times, but is yet to win the title. He’ll be sure to be going all-out to take victory this time around.
Hugo Rocha is another Olympic medalist, having scored bronze for Portugal in the 470. He leads the Russian New Territories team who came second at the 2014 World Championships in St Petersburg. This combination are not regulars in the fleet, but with their mix of experience and local knowledge could make for a very strong team.
Another Russian entry of note is Vladimir Proshikin’s Team Nika, a well-known name in many keelboat classes including the RC44, Melges 20 and of course SB20. Meanwhile there will also be strong Portuguese competition from another Olympian, Laser sailor Vasco Serpa, and the reigning 420 World Champions, brothers Diogo and Pedro Costa.
Winning the furthest travelled title, Michael Cooper leads a team from Tasmania in Australia, representing the fastest growing international fleet in the SB20 class. Tasmania now has a local fleet of over 50 boats, including 10 new this year, ahead of their own World Championships in January 2018.
Other impressive entries includes Team Dong Feng, the Chinese-French Volvo Ocean Race team, who have entered two boats, one led by Volvo skipper Charles Caudrelier with Thomas Rouxel, who is a familiar face on the SB20 circuit. There are also two teams from the well-known Oman Sail squad, which will feature some of the emerging Omani talent.
As the class becomes more international, the founding British teams no longer have this event all their own way, and while the crews of John Pollard, Ben Vines, and 2010 World Champions Jerry Hill and Joe Llewellyn may well feature at times, we can expect this to be a very tough event to win.
There will be additional competition for the Nations Cup. Last year the Russians won a very closely fought inaugural contest for the trophy, which they claimed by just a point from the Australian and British teams, and will be looking to retain the title. Class manufacturer Sportsboatworld has supplied a new trophy for the 2016 Nations Cup, which will be keenly contested by last year’s protagonists, as well as strong French and Portuguese teams. Other nations represented include Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Representatives from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, who are hosting the 2017 World Championships, will also be attending the Portuguese Worlds to meet officials and swap notes to fine tune next year’s event in the UK.
The 2016 World Championships are hosted by the Clube Naval de Cascais, and sponsored by the city of Cascais, together with supporting sponsors including porcelain makers Vista Alegre and sailmakers Hydes, who will be contributing to the coveted prizes. A spectacular glass trophy will be awarded to the 2016 World Champions.
Full information, including daily results, will be available here