June 26–30 saw the UK SB20 fleet head down to the English Riviera for the 12th Stormforce Coaching SB20 National Championships at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club. A later start on the first day gave competitors plenty of time to arrive in Torbay, and with the help of Sportsboat World representative Alan Hillman, there was ample time and advice available to make sure all the boats were finely tuned and race ready.
Jerry Hill (3722) took the early lead in the results winning the first race with John Pollard (3724) taking second, then building on this with a great win in the second race to take the lead overnight. Andy Oddie (3462) also had a good day on the water finishing the day with two consistent results which placed him in third after two races.
By the end of race two the wind was increasingly light and shifty but with two races on the results sheet (and only one broken nose…), the SB20 Nationals were off to a great start and received a very warm Commodore’s welcome on Thursday evening.
Day two saw thunder, lightning and showers throughout the day – but this wasn’t enough to stop the SB20 fleet from completing four races. Jerry Hill won the first day of the day, putting him back into a strong position. Chris Darling won the second race of the day in style on his brand new boat, no. 3723 ‘Darling Associates‘, with Mark Gillet (3149) and Tom Clay (3106) following closely behind in second and third.
The new UK SB20 chairman Adrian Peach in 3720 was first to cross the line in the third race of the second day (race 5), with John Pollard and Joe Llewellyn (3082) securing the other top 3 places. But Joe and his team weren’t finished there, and having tasted a top three result they went on to win the final race of Day 2, with Jerry and John close behind in second and third. With six races now completed the end of day two saw the discard kick in, which was much needed for some boats.
A huge thank-you goes out to Westaway Sails who, for the second year running, sponsored an evening of the SB20 nationals with a happy hour at the bar of Royal Torbay Yacht Club. It was a fantastic evening giving the fleet a chance to discuss tactics and boat set-up at the halfway point of the regatta.
Saturday proved to be a frustrating day for sailors and race committee alike. With torrential showers and breeze from all four quarters at some stage, the race committee tried in vain to get a race away, they then sent the fleet ashore for an hour before bringing the crews out again in what appeared to be a stable breeze, but which then died away leading to the abandonment of the racing for the day. There was also a worryingly light forecast for Sunday
The saving grace of the day was the ‘Posh BBQ’ sponsored by Bollé Sunglasses. SB20 competitors enjoyed steak and salmon followed by an array of desserts and most importantly a competitors’ raffle. Crews were able to win sets of t-shirts for their boats, free rounds of drinks, and lots of other prizes including three sets of Bollé sunglasses from the latest polarised marine collection.
Sunday saw an earlier start to schedule in four races and give the competitors a second discard. The breeze was a reasonably stable 6-8 knots, but forecast to die out later in the afternoon. In another good day of racing, race 8 saw a strong performance from female helm Natalie French and her team in 3571, who went on to win the first female helm trophy.
The races were very tense with the three main protagonists, Jerry, Joe and John, keeping a close eye on each other – however after four close races and only three points separating 1st and 2nd place, Jerry Hill in ‘Sportsboat World’ maintained a better level of consistency and was crowned the 2014 SB20 National Champion. This is Jerry’s third National Championships win, added to wins in 2003 and 2008.
With competition in the SB20 fleet hotting up we are all eagerly awaiting the Cowes Grand Slam event in August and then heading over to St. Petersburg, Russia in September for the World Championships – good luck to everyone competing.
Stormforce Coaching SB20 National Championship 2014 Results:
1st Sportsboatworld.com Jerry Hill, Richard Lovering/Alan Hillman, Craig Watson 15pts
2nd Excellente John Pollard, Rob Smith, Charlie Hook 18pts
3rd Henri Lloyd/Forelle Estates Joe Llewellyn, Ben Vines, Jerry Vigus 27pts
Full results at http://www.rtyc.org/hosted2014/sb20/sb20e2014os.html