Final preparations are now underway for the three Irish teams travelling to the 2018 SB20 World Championships in Hobart, Tasmania. The event, co-hosted by the Derwent Sailing Squadron and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, will run from 7th – 11th January 2018, preceded by a pre-Worlds tune-up regatta running from 2nd – 5th January 2018. Competition will be fierce with 6 out of the top 7 teams from the 2016 World Championships competing in Tasmania, complemented by a strong local fleet boasting former Dragon, Moth and Mumm 30 World Champions amongst their talented ranks. The three Irish teams, Team Binn Eadair, Venuesworld.com and ProvidentCRM.com are under no illusion that they are in for a fight when they take to the start line in just under three weeks’ time. However, close and competitive racing has been a hallmark and indeed one of the attractions of the popular and friendly fleet.
Team Binn Éadair are a youth sailing team comprising of Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling and Diana Kissane. Cillian, Sam and Gordon were part on the Ireland's Eye Killcullen team that finished 3rd in the 2015 J24 Europeans. Since then they’ve teamed up with match racer Diana, who had spent a number of years competing in the prestigious WIM Series, to launch an SB20 campaign. “The Irish SB20 class is really strong at the moment, when you race in an event here you really are competing against some of the best SB20 sailors in the world. We’re really excited to travel to Hobart with seasoned SB20 campaigners Ger and Michael and see what we can learn”. The boat, Binn Éadair, is the 4th production boat built and much of 2017 has been spent getting it up to the standard required to compete at world championship level. The team aim to use the Australian event as a springboard for the 2018 Europeans on home waters in September 2018.
The Royal Irish Yacht Club team of venuesworld.com will see regulars Ger Dempsey and Chris Nolan join forces with experienced SBer Ted Laverty of the National Yacht Club and Emily Pollard of Royal Torbay Yacht Club. This new crew combination will bring the team to the maximum crew weight of 270 Kg which many believe is essential to compete at the highest level in this fleet. The team travel to Australia on the 26th December which will allow almost two weeks of training on the local tricky waters of the Derwent River before battle in the World Championships commences. This will be the 5th Worlds for the venuesworld.com team and their first in the southern hemisphere. “As always we look forward to meeting a mix of both professional & Corinthian sailors, one of the attractions of this class, and inviting them to Dun Laoghaire to the Royal Irish Yacht club for the 2018 Europeans,” commented helm Ger Dempsey.
ProvidentCRM.com also have a new crew combination for this event with John Malone taking over middle man responsibilities from Davy Taylor of the successful 2016 World Championship team. John joins the Royal St. George Yacht Club’s Michael O'Connor and Edward Cook as they attempt to improve upon their 6th place overall finish and Corinthian World title at the 2016 World Championships. “The SB20 is predominantly about teamwork, getting the three or four crew members working together and minimizing mistakes. To that end, we have been out practicing in Dun Laoghaire, bedding in the basic manoeuvers and trying to get up to speed before we travel to Tasmania. Hobart looks like a very tricky venue with 30 degree shifts commonplace. We have been very lucky to have been able to draw on the experience of John Lavery (former Fireball World Champ), Peter Bowring, Ben Duncan and others in our efforts to familiarise ourselves with the venue and they have been very generous with their time,” said O'Connor.
So far, 59 boats are signed up for the event with the Australian fleet bolstered by no less than 20 visitors from as far afield as Ireland, the UK, France, Italy and Russia. Numbers are expected to top 60 by the time the World Championships gets under way on 7th January.
Irish crewman Ted Laverty will be reporting for Afloat.ie from Tasmania
More on the Irish SB20 Worlds and Euros in the Irish Times here