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Irish SB20 Fleet Numbers Grow in the Build-up to Dublin Bay World Championships 2023

26th December 2020
SB20 World Championship racing comes to Dublin Bay in 2023 SB20 World Championship racing comes to Dublin Bay in 2023

As previously reported in Afloat, the Irish SB20 fleet was awarded the 2023 World Championships, to be held in the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire in September 2023. As a consequence, the sportsboat class have seen a resurgence with an influx of boats in 2020, both new and old, as teams gear up for the first World Championships in home waters since 2008. According to Class President John Malone, several more boats are expected to join the fleet throughout 2021 and 2022 as preparations for the Worlds intensify.

First to dip their toes in the water were Kevin Fenton and John McGonigle. Kevin sailed his first SB event at the Lough Derg Freshwater Regatta in late 2019 and was instantly smitten. So much so, that he immediately went in search of an SB20 to buy. As luck would have it, Ewen Barry offered the highly decorated and ultra-quick "Bango" 3065 for sale at that time, and Kevin didn't hesitate. Although Covid-19 restricted national and regional competitions in the early parts of the season, Kevin, sailing with John McGonigle and 420 hotshot Ben Graf on the tiller, used the opportunity to practice their manoeuvres and to get up to speed in the boat, training with the ever-friendly and ever-expanding Lough Ree fleet. In early August, Bango made their championship debut at the Western Championships held out of the Royal St George Yacht Club and got their first taste for SB20 racing in the waters where the Worlds will be sailed.

Also making their debut at the season's delayed curtain-raiser were the new owners of "Tiger Lite" 3184. Tiger Lite was bought by Ruth Loughrey just prior to the event, and there was a frantic race to get the boat race ready before the event. 2020 DBSC class captain Sarah Dwyer volunteered to show the new owners the ropes and hopped on board with Ruth, Ben Loughrey and Dermot Tynan for the event. Although the overall weight combo with four sailors didn't suit the light and variable conditions, reports were that the new owners were delighted to get some expert tuition from an experienced SBer on all aspects of SB20 boat handling. It is understood that Tiger Lite will be sailed out of the Royal Irish Yacht Club for the 2021 season.

New SB20 from White Formula Boats UK

September saw the arrival of the latest boat out of the mould from White Formula Boats UK, the licenced manufacturer of SB20s. "Ted 2 – Tammi-Lyn" 3809, was brought in by the experienced team of Davey Taylor, Ed Cook and Michael O'Connor. Sadly, a Covid-19 resurgence at the end of the summer resulting in a cancellation of the nationals prevented Ted 2 - Tammi-Lyn from making its debut in 2020 and the lads trying out their new toy.

October saw Eoin Leahy and Donie Heggarty bring the highly-rated "Uber" 3720, winner of the 2016 UK Nationals, over to Ireland. Eoin and Donie are no strangers to the SB20 class having bought "Strictly Business" 3272, a couple of years ago when they decided to dip their toes back into the SB20 fleet. Eoin, winner of the first SB20 Irish nationals in 2007 with Nin O'Leary, and Donie, no stranger himself to the sharp end of competitive fleets, have already built a formidable team. Having spent two years polishing and optimising Strictly Business to within an inch of its life, the pair decided that a newer hull was in order for their 2023 Worlds campaign, hence Uber's purchase.

Thankfully, the market for good second-hand SB20s is strong at the moment and a fully kitted out, pre-loved SB20 like "Strictly Business" wasn't going to stay on the shelf for long. In what is another case of the return of the prodigal son, the SB20 class is delighted to welcome back James Ives from Carlingford. James previously sailed 3146 for a number of years before taking a break from SB20s. In an exciting development for the class in the North East, it is understood that James intends to race Strictly Business on Carlingford Lough in addition to doing the SB20 circuit. Although the class have often raced in Carlingford, most recently in 2016, they were not previously able to gain a foothold in the club.

Not to be outdone by the resurgence in the North East, the formidable Cork duo of Aidan McSweeney and Mel Collins has also decided to re-enter the fray for the 2021 season. It is not yet known who will fill the third berth. Both Aidan and Mel have racked up top quality results at past SB20 Worlds. Aidan recently brought "Gold Digger" 3044 in from the UK, and although likely to be one of the older tubs in the fleet, with the lasting build quality of SB20s, it is expected that they will be "on the pace" for 2021. 3044 is from a well-known batch of top-quality SB20s including Mel's former boat (sail no. 3045), current Class President John Malone's hull (sail no. 3040) and a multiple world championship-winning hull (sail no. 3042).

Finally, in late November, "KnowHowDo" 3490 (formerly Dinghy Supplies) was purchased by John Malone to get her dusted down and race-ready for 2021. KnowHowDo sat out the 2019 and 2020 seasons but prior to that, KnowHowDo had a very strong race record both nationally and internationally under the team from Howth of Darragh Sheridan, Shane Murphy and John Phelan. We look forward to seeing KnowHowDo back on the water in 2021. As John Malone can't sail two boats at once, it is understood that a new entrant to the class will be taking the reins of KnowHowDo for the 2021 season and the boat will be racing regularly out of Lough Ree Yacht Club.

SB20 Class President John Malone

Class President John Malone added: "it is exciting to see so many additions to the fleet for the 2021 season as we build towards the Worlds in 2023. Having beginner, intermediate and experienced crews joining the fleet now augurs really well for the class. Although activities were heavily curtailed in 2020, we have an exciting programme of events and training scheduled for 2021 and we look forward to seeing all of these boats and their crews on the water in 2021. In addition, we would call on any former SBers that have boats in storage to get in contact with us. We would be delighted to help them get back out on the water or if they are looking to move their boats along, we can help them find a new home."

Published in SB20, Dublin Bay
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SB20 (formerly Laser SB3) information

Designed by Tony Castro, the SB20 is a British-built strict one-design 6.15m keelboat conceived as a wide appeal, affordable, competitive sportsboat for teams of three or four sailors. It is also, arguably, the most successful sportsboat in the world with 800 owners competing regularly in a programme of exciting local, national and international events.

Originally known as the Laser SB3, the SB20 continues to deliver on its pioneering promise: a boat that is fun, fast and easy to sail by anyone of any age; the best value-for-money sportsboat in the market.

The Laser SB3 was designed by Castro and launched in 2002. In 2007 the Laser SB3 was awarded ISAF Recognised Status and the first World Championships were held in Ireland in 2008. In 2012, Tony Castro appointed a new builder, Sportsboat World. At this time, the Laser SB3 was renamed the SB20 and building was returned to the UK from Malaysia. The ethos of the class continues.

The boat is a strict one-design class, economic to buy and campaign, easy to sail with a simple deck layout and electric downwind performance delivered by the generous sail plan. The boat has a lifting keel, can easily be launched from a slipway and towed behind a family car.

Previous SB20 World Champions

2008 GBR: Geoff Carveth, Roger Gilbert, Roz Allen & Sarah Allan

Host National Yacht Club, Dun laoghaire, Ireland

2009 GBR: Craig Burlton, Stephen White, Adam Heeley

Host Clube Naval de Cascais, Cascais, Portugal

2010 GBR: Jerry Hill, Grant Rollerson, Joe Llewellyn

Host Circolo Vela Torbole, Lake Garda, Italy

2011 GBR: Geoff Carveth, Andy Ramus, Ian Mills & Emma Clarke

Host Royal Torbay Yacht Club, Torquay, UK

2012 GBR: Geoff Carveth, Lesley Dhonau, Roger Hudson & Asenathi Jim

Host Hamilton Island Yacht Club, Queensland, Australia

2013 GRB: Craig Burlton, Stephen White, Adam Heley Host COYCH Club, Hyeres, France

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