‘Sportsboatworld.com’ has won the 2014 SB20 Grand Slam at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, after a demanding four days and seven races on the Solent.
Two races were held today, on Tuesday August 5, 2014, with a lengthy final course for the 36 competitors in the Grand Slam, which finished with a flourish on the Royal Yacht Squadron line.
Jerry Hill and team on ‘Sportsboatworld.com’ took two wins today, completing a final scoreline of five victories, one second and a third. However, they were pushed hard by Rob Gullan on ‘F5 Synthesis’, and going into the final day of racing there was just one point separating the leaders.
“Today was another long hard day,” commented Hill. “When we started the first race, we were only a point ahead of ‘F5 Synthesis’, so with two races we had plenty on. But they had an OCS and we hadn’t used a discard so we were in quite a strong position.
“In the first race we came off the line well but it was pretty shifty, and Rob got the first shift. Then, just I was going to tack underneath him, but I saw [the Maxi yacht] ‘Leopard’ in the distance in a massive right-hander, so we took Rob’s transom with three or four other boats, sailed over to the shift and it came down to us. We hooked into a massive righty and the breeze did go 30 or 40 degrees right, and we were laying the windward mark in pressure. The result of the shift was then that effectively the rest of the race became a reach, so we got into the lead at exactly the right time in that race!”
Nigel Grogan on ‘Hyde Sail’s overtook ‘F5 Synthesis’ to finish second, with Gullan in third. Although the ‘Sportsboatworld.com’ team had secured overall victory, they stayed out for the final race, enjoying another close contest with Rob Gullan and crew on ‘F5 Synthesis’.
“We had a bit of a ding-dong battle with him and a few others, he sailed us back at one point, but it was a long race and we knew there would be opportunities. Sure enough we ground him down and got in the lead towards the end, and made a great layline across the Solent for Gurnard buoy, we nailed that spot on. And were able to put up the pink chute, head for the line, get the canon! It’s a nice way to finish and win a Grand Slam.
“It’s been a tough competition, but we’ve sailed well. And it’s been great to see the Oman boats, visitors from Holland, Belgium, Germany, a few charter boats. They’ve all had a great time. This is about as hard as it gets. This is a tough fleet with some good sailors and then when you add in the navigational and tidal and courses… there’s a hell of a lot on. I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and we find it difficult! So it’s a big challenge for people just starting out, but they all enjoyed it and this event should go from strength to strength.”
‘F5 Synthesis’ took another second place to finish second overall in the Grand Slam, with ‘Chill Pill’ taking third in the last race of the series and ‘Sponge Bob’ claiming third overall.
The Grand Slam concluded with a prizegiving at the UKSA, with the top three teams taking home a brand new pair of boots courtesy of Dubarry. Rob Gullan, helm of ‘F5 Synthesis’ commented: “We had quite a week – I did say on the first day that we were a bit chaotic, and so it proved. But basically I thought we were pretty good all week, we seemed pretty fast. Considering we haven’t been in the boat for two years, and some of the crew has never been in the boat, we’re just happy to be on the pace really. I think we and Jerry probably set our rigs up slightly differently – but we’re not going to tell him what we do!
“The four day format has been good – I like it. I almost wonder if we could do three races a day – but it’s nice to do the odd longer Cowes Week course, it’s a bit of a different challenge. We came here with our eyes on the Dubarrys and we’ve got them on now!”
There was a special prize of a distinctive set of Harken bobble hats for the team of ‘Red Kite’ for their attempted (and aborted) port-tack flyer. Skipper Roger Harford admitted, ‘We took a bit of a risk at the start. We were five seconds too early – if we’d been five seconds later we’d have got away with it! But there were 36 boats coming towards us…”
The Grand Slam was also sponsored by Bolle, Selden, Hydes, White Formula, Tony Castro, Sportsboat World, and TCA Productions.