Top-level competition at Torbole

The second Grand Slam of the season for the SB20 fleet was a highly competitive, international affair, with 26 boats competing from eight nations.

11351343_852968801407779_5331278349402248199_nFormer Olympic sailor Rodion Luka, sailing for the Ukraine, was the impressive winner. His ‘Skyline’ team from Kiev Racing YC of Igor Matvienko, Igor Severianov, and Svetlana Sorokina won four of the eight races, taking second in another three. They finally discarded a third place to win overall by nine points. Luka scored a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, sailing in the 49er class, while his crew includes former 470 World Champion Igor Matvienko, and the team are campaigning hard for this year’s SB20 World Championships.

In second place was the Italian ‘Protect Tapes’ team, helmed by Ian Ainslie with Paulin Gian Matteo and Adam Martin, who won two races and scored a run of second and third places on the first two days. Ian Ainslie is another skipper who competes at the very top of the sport, having represented South Africa at three Olympic Games, with keelboat World Championships and professional match racing event wins to his name.

On equal points with ‘Protect Tapes’ was the French ‘Black Magic’ team. SB20 Class President Edward Russo, Gilles Favennec ad Mikael Megui also showed both speed and consistency to take third overall, with the final order decided on ‘countback’. The British team of Jerry Hill, Alan Hillman and Craig Watson took the remaining race win, while two Russian teams from St Petersburg YC, skippered by Pushev Vadim and Alexey Murashkin, tied on points for fourth and fifth overall (also decided on countback).

The top female entry was the Italian team of Lorenza Mariani, Alessandra Gaoso and Valentina Folli, who won the Clarins prize, while Ed Russo also took the Hyde Sails prize for top over-50 helm, winning the Masters division.

Overall winner Rodion Luka commented: “The races were great, lots of different wind conditions and it was really good practice for everybody. The race committee did a good job, many thanks to them. In some races we had almost all the fleet, over 20 boats, finishing within one minute. It was close and tactical, and we really enjoyed it.”

SportsboatWorld's own Jerry Hill and Alan Hillman, racing with Craig Watson on GBR3722, finished seventh at the Garda Grand Slam

SportsboatWorld’s own Jerry Hill and Alan Hillman, racing with Craig Watson on GBR3722, finished seventh at the Garda Grand Slam

Racing began on Friday May 22, in shifty northerlies with overcast conditions. However, by the final day of Sunday, May 24 competitors were able to enjoy sunshine and the traditional southerly Ora breeze. The last race in particular was a Garda classic, which will have whetted the fleet’s appetite for the next two regattas: the Italian SB20 nationals on June 19, before the class’s season highlight of the 2015 World Championships from 4-10 July, both also hosted by Circolo Vela Torbole. The World Championships currently have nearly 70 boats entered in the 20ft one-design sportsboat class, and organisers are confident of over 100 entries taking part from around the world.

Full results, and entry to the SB20 World Championships, can be found at http://circolovelatorbole.com/it/regate/2015/

Winners Rodion Luka and crew from the Ukraine at the prizegiving, with second-placed Ian Ainslie/Paulin Gian Matteo on 'Protect Tapes' (ITA) and Ed Russo and the 'Black Magic' team in third (FRA)

Winners Rodion Luka and crew from the Ukraine at the prizegiving, with second-placed Ian Ainslie/Paulin Gian Matteo on ‘Protect Tapes’ (ITA) and Ed Russo and the ‘Black Magic’ team in third (FRA)

Ed Russo with his Masters helm prizes from Hyde Sails

Ed Russo with his Masters helm prizes from Hyde Sails

The top ladies team of Lorenza Mariani, Alessandra Gaoso and Valentina Folli, who won the Clarins prize

The top ladies team of Lorenza Mariani, Alessandra Gaoso and Valentina Folli, who won the Clarins prize