2015 Worlds – the insider’s view

Alan gives us the inside track on this season’s biggest SB20 regatta, the 2015 Trentino SB20 World Championship

SportsboatWorld seemed to spend a substantial part of the early season in Torbole this year – and why not? Following on from our annual journey to Hyères (where we actually found some nice accommodation that lived up to the rest of what this great venue has to offer) the relatively short road trip up to Garda left the horribly long road trip to the south of France a distant memory.

SportsboatWorld sailed the Grand Slam and Italian Nationals prior to the Worlds so you would have thought we would have got the hang of it there, but with the inner and outer courses proving very different race tracks – and the amazingly high quality and depth of the fleet – it proved increasingly hard to dig yourself out of a hole following a poor start, incident, or horrible shift. Like every regatta though if you sail long enough the best teams work their way up the fleet and it is rare that the final scoreboard lies!

©Jurij Plavnik/Circolo Vela Torbole/SB20 Class

©Jurij Plavnik/Circolo Vela Torbole/SB20 Class

The Worlds kicked off with measurement and I have to say how lucky we are to have John Outhwaite, someone who combines an understanding of the ethos of the class and the ability to smell a rat. He always adds a strong dose of reality to the job whilst ensuring a level playing field!

The Nations Cup was born this year (Jerry and I will try and formalise this in future years, we have sourced a suitable trophy!) initially out of some bar banter with the Aussies and the impending Ashes (cricket) series. It rapidly gained momentum and the rules were then clearly developed in order to give the Australians the best possible chance of winning. Speaking purely selfishly from a British perspective, where the team had great strength and depth, we all appeared to have shaky parts of the regatta. This left a nerve-wracking last day with apparently more scoreboard calculations going on for the team points than for the individual positions. With several British teams getting the sun in their eyes, slipping on the wet grass and dogs chewing their homework we managed to slip to a chastening 3rd on the leaderboard… chastening mainly for the fact that that we were beaten by the Aussies by only 1 point on a countback.

The fact that we were awaiting on protests, countbacks and skullduggery of all sorts bore testament to the fact that it was pretty tight and that the SB20 has truly arrived as an International class. Congratulations to the Russians who were a point ahead of both the Aussies and Brits, commiserations to the Aussies and Brits who were all separated by just one point, and better luck next time to the French who were sniffing at the door – as were the Ukranians, Italians and well represented Irish fleets. Watch out next year for the Portguese who could be in with a shout if they can keep themselves out of the protest room.

The race management was great this year and the two-fleet split seemed to go really well… I heard very few grumbles apart from the upper end of the Silver Fleet who were upset at being sent home when there was a full foam up, but I have to say it seemed a sensible decision based on the issues at the rear of the fleet, and with a few breakages busying up the safety boat network. At the front of the fleet it was great to see (and at the same time bloody annoying) that everyone seemed to be going the same speed and we were delighted to have 13 out of the top 17 boats built by SBW.

Day 4 2015 SB20 World Championships © Jurij Plavnik/Circolo Vela Torbole/SB20 Class

Day 4 2015 SB20 World Championships © Jurij Plavnik/Circolo Vela Torbole/SB20 Class

The young French sailors were deserved winners with the top 5 boats all being in the hunt at one point or another but not managing to keep all the scores in the low digits in the way that the French did. Chapeau! Hats off!

The prizegiving was great, including the Nations Cup, Trailer Concourse (of which the gauntlet is now firmly throw down with Richard Powell already planning upgrades), and the Silver Fleet being fully supported in recognition that the SB20 fleet is truly about great racing all the way through the fleet. SBW were delighted to have the opportunity to support this category with the leader flying the pink SBW kite and by providing vouchers for the various prize winners.

Thanks also to the class sail manufacturer Hyde Sails for supporting the Masters category with fantastic prizes once again – our boat is particularly looking forward to being all over 50 next year so we finally qualify.

We also have to say a huge thanks to Negri Nautica for keeping the fleet on the water throughout the regatta and of course the great catering team at the club, the team in the admin office, the refereeing department organising the crane-out schedule, the race management team including the jury who appeared to be kept busy this year, our incredibly sensible class measurer and, last but by no means least, our long suffering class president Ed Russo. The work Ed does on behalf of the sailors and the class behind the scenes is immense…his ability to pour oil on rough waters is now legendary with us at SBW and should be much appreciated by the fleet.

There was a really good vibe at the end of the regatta, with lots of talk about new boats, the next two years’ Worlds in Cascais and Cowes, and more regattas further afield as we plan the next few years…. onwards and upwards!

The final day of racing at the 2015 SB20 World Championships ©Jurij Plavnik/Circolo Vela Torbole/SB20 Class

The final day of racing at the 2015 SB20 World Championships ©Jurij Plavnik/Circolo Vela Torbole/SB20 Class