The last day of the Cascais SB20 World Championships 2016 on Saturday, September 3 saw Hugo Rocha with his New Territories team crowned World Champions, defeating a 76-boat fleet with entries from 13 countries.
Despite some fine individual performances, the four boat Irish team struggled overall in the big fleet. Former class president Justin Burke says that 'to break through this fleet, we'll need to train as a group with a coach as the leader of the team, and start 12 months before the event. The Irish sailed very well in spots but the complete package is needed to break through'.
Three Irish boats finished together in 40, 41 and 42. Full results are here.
After a demanding 12–race series during which the renowned high winds venue of Cascais, Portugal delivered storming 20-knot runs, shifty beats, mirror calm mornings, and everything in between, conditions for the final day single race proved challenging once again.
With winds again very light early in the morning, it initially looked doubtful as to whether any racing would take place and the fleet was towed to the course area. However, the breeze gradually filled in, and after two General Recalls and a postponement the wind eventually settled enough for the race team to get start away just one minute before the cut-off time. A couple of boats fell victim to the Black Flag as racing began in a light 6-8 knots, which quickly ramped up to 15 knots.
The fleet was evenly split across the racecourse and arrived compacted at the windward mark, which saw many boats forced to duck out and circle around – unusually, those boats that gybe-set towards the left-hand side shot up through the fleet as the right side suffered, with some of the leaders seeing heavy losses of distance. The race committee reset the top mark, but as the boats rounded the windward mark for the second time Cascais had one final trick up its sleeve and the fog rolled in – visibility reducing dramatically as the boats worked towards the finish. The sunshine reappeared for a final flourish in 8-12 knots of wind, before fading completely and requiring a final tow home for the fleet.
The race win went to Rodion Luka on TREM Engineering (UKR3042), giving the Ukranian Olympic silver medalist another podium finish at an SB20 World Championships in third overall. Second went to Vladim Pushev’s Vis Sailing Team (RUS3707), their best result of the series by a considerable way, while third went to Volvo Ocean Race skipper Charles Caudrelier and his DongFeng Racing Team1.
However, Rocha’s team on New Territories (RUS3711) finished 10th, enough to secure the 2016 World Championship title with a healthy 17-point margin. Rocha, together with Alex Semenov, Fran Palacios and Goncaki Barreto, scored two race wins, but significantly counted all top 10 placings in a high scoring series which saw many competitive teams hampered by mid-fleet finishes or disqualifications. Rocha is an Olympic medalist who scored bronze for Portugal in the 470 at the Savannah Games, while the New Territories team were second at the 2014 World Championships in St Petersburg.
Second went to Gabriel Skoczek, Michel Emeric, Lucas Chatonnier and Marine Boudot with France Jeune SB20 (FRA653), who were also top Youth team, four points ahead of Luka’s TREM Engineering. The France Jeune team commented after racing: “We had a real battle and that battle was fierce. But Hugo Rocha was too strong. We’re happy to get on the second step of the podium all the same.”
Just outside the podium there was a monumental duel for fourth between two Australian visiting teams, Chris Dare’s Flirtatious (AUS3735) and Michael Cooper’s Export Roo (AUS 3731), with the Flirtatious coming out on top by three points.
The hotly contested Nations Cup was awarded to France, from Russia, with Portugal just pipping Britain for third on tie-break. Meanwhile the French crew of Mathilde Geron, Sophie de Turckheim, Julie Bossard and Alice Ponsar on Team Xavier Bourhis Generali were the first ladies’ crew in 12th place. The top Master’s prize went to the Sportsboatworld.com team of Jerry Hill, Alan Hill and Craig Watson who finished 13th, with prizes awarded by Clarins and Hyde Sails as well as event sponsors Vista Alegre, Sagres, Simoes and Gaspar, and LG. The event was hosted by Clube Naval de Cascais, and backed by the Portuguese city.
The 2017 SB20 World Championships will be hosted by the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, UK. Racing will take place on the Solent from August 28-September 1, 2017, following a full schedule of racing for both local and visiting teams, including a Grand Slam event at the world famous Cowes Week regatta. The following year, the 2018 World Championships will head to the stunning venue of Tasmania, Australia.