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Ted is Tops in SB20 Nats "Festival" on Lough Ree

21st September 2021
Lough Ree at its best for the
Lough Ree at its best for the "festival atmosphere" SB20 Nationals at Lough Ree YC

On sea and lake alike, the wonderful weekend's summery weather may sometimes have produced frustrating wind conditions. But at most centres and through multiple events, the breeze obliged at various stages to bring superb sailing and a glimpse of what life used to be like as a matter of course. It was enough to encourage a genuine festival atmosphere, no more so than at the three-day Provident CRM/Dubarry SB20 Nationals in Lough Ree with the notably hospitable Lough Ree YC. It has inspired this lyrical account of a great regatta by Eoin Leahy, Ted Laverty and Class President John Malone, while the photos are by Edel Kellegher and Joanne Leavy. More photos of this successful and colourful event will appear in Sailing on Saturday with W M Nixon on on Saturday 25th September :

Long after the boats have been finally stowed for the winter off-season, this edition of the SB20 National Championships is certain to keep the fleets' fires burning for what promises to be an even more exciting season ahead with Ireland hosting the SB20 World Championships in 2022. While the winds were variable throughout the weekend with plenty of breeze on the Sunday, both the hospitality shown by Lough Ree Yacht Club (LRYC) and the performance of the championship winners (Michael O'Connor, Davy Taylor and Ed Cooke on 'Ted') was anything but. Nineteen entries made up the fleet from Dublin, Cork, Lough Ree, Lough Derg and Carlingford.

Perhaps it was a result of the pent-up anticipation post-lockdown, or something else, but from the off this event had an almost festival-like feel to it. Complete with mobile coffee trucks, a post sailing BBQ and a superb Gala dinner with sumptuous local produce and local music performances – it's hard to remember such an enjoyable and relaxed event off the water, even with the physical distancing restrictions in place. Ably planned and executed by the LRYC community, special mention goes to Kevin Fenton, John McGonigle and John Malone (SB20 Class President) for ensuring all competitors were so well catered for at all times.

Whether the wind was light or fresh, the racing was close and often colourfulWhether the wind was light or fresh, the racing was close and often colourful

Friday's racing kicked off in a tricky 8 to 10 knots of breeze, putting a premium on keeping on top of shifts and positioning in the fleet. International race officer Con Murphy and team put on a masterclass which demonstrated the style with which they'd cope with varying circumstances to give us nine races over thee days, providing excellent courses and directing the team of mark layers to get the most from the conditions. After Day 1, Michael O'Connor and the crew 'Ted' finished with two first places and a 4th, to put them two points ahead of Philip Doran & Crew on 'LoFly' (Dorans Family) and Colin Galavan & Crew on 'Carpe Diem'. Mel Collins & Crew on 'Gold Digger' threatened the lead briefly with a bullet in race 2, but in reality, reigning Irish Sailing All Ireland Senior Sailing Champion Michael O'Connor sailed a near flawless opening day with his team to lay down a marker to the rest of the fleet.

Saturday morning sunshine greeted the competitors at LRYC. Day 2 saw even more trying lake conditions, with massive shifts and holes appearing all over the course in light breezes. In a fleet as competitive as the SB20's, one mistake was hard to recover from - with many crews going from 'hero to zero' in the space of just one leg. The results continued as they finished from the previous day, with the crew of 'Ted' posting an early win to extend its lead. Strong sailing from 'Carpe Diem' and 'Lofly' kept them on the podium, but they were being closely stalked by Ger Dempsey & Crew aboard '' who posted a 2-7-1 to get themselves into contention and the crew of 'Gold Digger' one place back.

Any bite to the breeze was a reminder that Lough Ree is an inland seaAny bite to the breeze was a reminder that Lough Ree is an inland sea

LRYC hosted a class dinner on Saturday night with some great footage of the days racing playing on the big screen in the dining room followed by new crews to the fleet getting to know the season campaigners in the bar.
After being suitably refreshed at the superb Gala dinner on Saturday night, the crews emerged to more promising conditions on Day 3 with fresher winds and the promise of more stability. It proved to deliver some of the most exciting racing, even providing a taste of planing conditions for the first time in the event.

Ted started the day with a bullet followed by an uncharacteristic 8th but a 2nd in the last race sealed the deal for them. However, the chasing pack were sailing consistently from behind and the competition for the remaining podium places was intense. The crew of 'Carpe Diem' posted hard earned results of 4-7-4 on the day but were ultimately pipped for second place overall by '' who bloomed late in the event to post a 2-10-1 to lead 'Carpe Diem' by a single point and push them into 3rd place. 'Lofly' finished in 4th place, with Gold Digger in 5th. Local boat 'Strictly Business' with Eoin Leahy, Donnie Heragahty and Alex Leech won the Silver Fleet in 9th position overall.

SB20 Prizes galore – and several with a local flavourSB20 Prizes galore – and several with a local flavour

With a strong and growing SB20 fleet in place in LRYC, tired travellers departed reluctantly from their warm glow on Sunday afternoon having experienced a truly special event. All the organisers can be proud of their achievements – and even slightly afraid that they might be invited to repeat it all over again for many years to come!

As the dust settles after a great three days of racing on Lough Ree, the fleet is preparing for the season-closing event in Lough Derg YC next month. The class is in good health heading into 2022 and the SB20 worlds in Dublin Bay.

Published in SB20 Team

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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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