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SB20 Worlds Preview: Now For The Main Course...

6th January 2018
180 degree wind shifts are quite common in Hobart 180 degree wind shifts are quite common in Hobart Photo: Jane Austin

After a blustery pre-world SB20 championships, in which one of three Irish boats made the top ten, Dublin Bay crew man Ted Laverty previews tomorrow's first race of the World Championships in Hobart. 

“The visitors I’ve spoken to have been a little anxious about some of the squalls that have been whistling through the car park over the last couple of days. I’ve explained to them how we sometimes need to tie our boats down to stop them blowing around and that 180 degree wind shifts are quite common - but I’m not entirely sure they believe me.” Stephen Catchpool, SB20 Australia Class President

This place has it all. Unpredictable breeze with gusts that top out anywhere north of 30 knots, estuary conditions and a bay hugged by elevated terrain dominated by the impressive Mount Wellington to the North west, the Derwent river in Hobart, Tasmania will provide a serious challenge to an international fleet of over 60 boats competing for the 2018 SB20 World championships over the next 4 days.

One of Three Irish crews have to make the trip south of down under, our challenge is complicated further still by the quality of the competition here. Multiple world champions, a sprinkling of professional crews and experienced local sailors with local knowledge will make the task difficult for visiting boats.

Difficult but by no means impossible. Reigning Corinthian world champion Mick O’Connor, John Malone and Ed Cook in (Sin Bin) posted improving results to secure a 9th overall in this weeks pre-world practice regatta. Race 6 showed them recovering well from a poor start to work their way up the fleet to 6th position. It could be they are peaking just at the right time. Additionally the Irish youth team on Bin Eadair (Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling, Diana Kissane) impressively won line honours in race 5, only to be disappointed for being called over the start line. Their display of boat speed and teamwork proves their credentials for the main event.

Our crew on (Ger Dempsey, Ted Laverty, Emily Pollard, Chris Nolan) remain optimistic of a strong showing after blowing off seasonal cob webs and sailing together for the first time to post 23rd overall. Our boat handling and coordination definitely improved as we navigated through major wind shifts and gusts up to 35 knots while hitting 16 knots of boat speed on one downwind leg. Some sleigh ride!

Hosted jointly by the Derwent Sailing Squadron and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, the event setup is impressive, surpassed only by the naturally friendly demeanor of the locals. There’s a real community feel to the fleet down here and so far it’s been a joy to be a part of. Today (a lay day) after lifting out and polishing the hull, we were treated to an outback BBQ and tour of a local apple farm and organic cider producer by Andrew Smith from Willie Smiths Cider. It’s just a pity that tomorrow is a work day!

First gun is 13.00hrs local time. The forecast is for light winds from the west. That could mean gusts of 25 knots from the South East. Or No wind at all. Welcome to the Derwent – Let the games begin!

You can track races live or see daily results as they happen here

Published in SB20 Team

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