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Two Irish Boats in Top 10 as SB20 Worlds Gets to the Business End

9th January 2018
The leaderboard saw significant changes today over three races The leaderboard saw significant changes today over three races Photo: Jane Austin

Sticky. Like scalextric. That’s what you need to be off the start line here, in a lane, bow down and hiking like a swiss alpine enthusiast. If you can’t live with the boats around you, you’re toast. Pure and simple writes Ted Lavery at the SB20 Worlds in Hobart.

Today saw a steady sea breeze develop from the SE with the local crews ‘home advantage’ being somewhat eroded. This place still had the ability to produce very localised puffs of breeze to exhilarate and confound crews in equal measure, but it still felt more like a plan than previous days.

The leaderboard saw significant changes today over 3 races, with overnight leader Micheal Cooper of Tasmania (2nd in the 2017 worlds in Cowes) being relegated to 6th place overall after what was ultimately a challenging day for their crew in heeling conditions. Top place is wide open with John Pollard from the UK in Xcellent leading by 4 points. Discards will have a major say in this regatta, with most crews withholding high results meaning that there is little margin for error in the final 4 races.

That said we need to mention the French. Like the great ‘Les blues’ rugby teams of the last decade, their speed, accuracy and tactics across the course are looking ominous. With Robert Follin, 2015 world champion, and his crew aboard ‘Give Me 5’ posting a 1st, 8th, 1st today and lying in third overall behind Achille Nebout and crew on Le Grand Réservoir / Mazet & A (3rd, 3rd, 8th ) there’s a touch of the classic England – French rivalry down in these parts now. That’s tonight, no doubt there is still time for an additional twist or two in the remaning days before the title is handed over.

And what of the fighting Irish? The news is good. All three crews have managed to work their way up the overall standings today.

Reigning Corinthian world champion Mick O’Connor, John Malone and Ed Cook in (Sin Bin) had a strong day on the Derwent posting a 5th, 11th and 19th to lie in 9th place overall overnight. As in the pre-worlds, these guys have an undisputed ability to grind out results when it matters and push their way up the fleet with consistently high results. It’s impressive stuff.

To make Irish eyes smile all the more, the Irish youth team on Bin Eadair (Cillian Dickson, Sam O’Byrne, Gordon Stirling, Diana Kissane) lie in 10th place overall. Possessing the requisite quality and experience to dial in strong results over the next 4 races, with the rub of the green they could well climb to further heights in this contest.

On our boat (Ger Dempsey, Ted Laverty, Emily Pollard, Chris Nolan) we fought hard for a 32,33,35 today to lie 37th overall. The racing today was exhilarating with fast downwind plaining legs and long tactical beats. We hit 14 Knots, surfed down some gnarly waves and got strong starts. All that and we even had a man overboard on one downwind, who kept the kite flying and retrieved themselves independently from the high Tasman seas. That crew member shall remain nameless.
Last night competitors enjoyed an offsite reception in the Maritime Museum Of Tasmania where, along with the full seafaring history of Tasmania, we were treated to an exhibition of photos from the 50 years of the Sydney to Hobart race. De-masted yachts, 147 ft waves, life rafts and sea-air rescues – and we thought we had a tough day on the water today!

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

Published in SB20 Team

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