After a fortnight of frustrating cancellations and false starts to the season, eight SB20s made it onto the start line for the first Saturday races of the 2017 DBSC SB20 sailing programme. The forecast was for a freshening southerly breeze gusting up to 25 knots by late afternoon – ideal SB20 planing conditions.
For race 1, the OOD called for two laps of the windward/leeward course and set up a boat end biased line. Sin Bin (Michael, Dave and Ed) and Sacre Bleu (Colin, Colin and Dave) started closest to the boat with Alert Packaging (Justin, Henrik and Eoin) slightly further down the line starting at speed and in a good lane. Several boats including Bad (Jerry, Jimmy et al) and Defiant (Gerry, Michael et al) peeled off onto port tack shortly after the start in search of clear air and better breeze. The fleet raced off towards the first mark battling against the chop in a very confused sea state. As the fleet progressed up the beat, the wind abated, became shifty and patchy in parts, leading to plenty of tacks and several close crosses as the boats tried to find the shortest route to the weather mark. At the weather mark it was Sin Bin from Alert Packaging with Bango (James, Peter et al) and Venuesworld.com (Ger, Rory and Diana) charging hard and closing the gap on the leaders ahead. Once around the weather mark, the kites were popped and the boats sped downwind towards the leeward gate, most favouring the right hand side of the run and a “one gybe and in” strategy.
By the second weather mark, Bango and Venuesworld had managed to overtake Alert Packaging to get into second and third respectively. The wind was gusting and shifting about quite a bit down the run with big gains to be made for those able to take advantage. Sacre Bleu broke from the fleet and went left down the second run, making large gains on the fleet. At the end of the run, the boats passed through the leeward gate before the short run to the finish. Sin Bin had held onto their lead and took the gun. Venuesworld showed great pace down the second run to overtake Bango and take second place by a couple of lengths. Alert Packaging’s misery was not over yet and an unfortunate wrap in their kite on the final gybe into the leeward gate allowed a charging Sacre Bleu to plane in underneath them and nick fourth place at the death. Alert Packaging crossed in fifth.
After a short break for the other fleets on the green course to finish, the OOD reset the line for race 2, this time opting for a pin-end bias and three rounds of the windward leeward course. Noting that the rest of the fleet were a little line shy when lining up for the start, Bango had a magnificent start and port tacked the fleet from the pin end. Most boats peeled off right shortly after the start with one or two staying on starboard moving into fresher breeze on the left hand side of the course. The left paid handsomely and at the weather mark, it was Sin Bin leading from Bango in second with Venuesworld, Sacre Bleu and Alert Packaging close astern.
By now, the breeze had freshened considerably and the fleet were hurtling downwind at speeds of up to 15 knots. After three rounds, Sin Bin had extended their lead to take the gun. Bango was again being pursued hard by Venuesworld for second place and coming in to the last gate, there was a nail biting finish as Bango had under-laid the starboard layline to the leeward gate and was soaking deep against the tide with a collapsed kite. Venuesworld, also on starboard, was marginally hotter and faster with a sometimes-filling kite. As Bango got to the leeward gate mark, Venuesworld were on their transom and looking likely to overtake. As Bango squeezed past the gate mark, they were able to head up 20 degrees, their kite popped and they took off once more crossing the finish line shortly thereafter in a well-deserved second place, a boatlenth ahead of Venuesworld in third. Sacre Bleu took their second fourth place of the day and Alert Packaging took their second fifth place of the day.
A notable mention goes out to DBSC fleet newbies SBodikins (Rob Cahill sailing with his two sons), coming in a close and very credible sixth place in race 2. Rob is returning the SB20 fleet in advance of the 2018 SB20 Europeans (to be held in Dun Laoghaire) after a few years of the boat being in storage. No doubt the Cahill family will be a force to be reckoned with over the coming season as they get back into SB20 mode.