Australian’s BMW Showdown Series in high winds

The 2018 BMW Showdown Series have just finished in Tasmania with more than 70 boats racing in a fresh 15 knot nor’wester, with some gusts of up to 28 knots. With the SB20 Nationals to be sailed on the Derwent, the line-up of just 10 boats is rather disappointing in size, but high on talent.

Heading the fleet is Porco Rosso (Elliott Noye, Paul McCartney and Edward Snowball) who recently finished second in the European SB20 Championships in Ireland. A strong new crew on Pinch, skippered by Frazer Read and crewed by Will Logan and Matthew Johnston, while Jill Abel be on the helm of the sole female entry, Cook Your Own Dinner.

Last season’s helm and co-owner Felicity Allison moves the ‘sharp end’ this summer with Bridget Hutton and Melissa Ford making up the crew. Leading SB20 skipper Nick Rogers is instead helming his International Dragon Karabos as he prepares for the Worlds in Perth in early January with former Dragon crew, Leigh Behrens and Simon Burrows. Main competition was expected from Ridgeway, sailed by Stephen Shield, Simon Pitney and Jeremy Ford.



The racing on Sunday, 4th November was brought forward to 9.30am with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania hoping to make up some of the races lost by Saturday’s postponement due to a gale warning for the River Derwent. RYCT sailing manager Nick Hutton has planned five races for the Dragon and SB20 one-design keelboats and the same number in the off-the-beach classes which include Lasers, 29ers, Cadets, Sabots, NS14s and Optimists.

Within 30 minutes of the starts on the three course areas there were several retirements, a Laser, a Sabot and a couple of Optimists, apparently with gear damage. The fresh breeze has given the SB20s and 29ers some spectacular spinnaker runs down the river.

Today was a winning day for Huon Valley orchardist and sailor Andrew Smith – he organised the raising of more than $15,000 as drought relief for farmers and his boat Smigger won the SB20 sports boat class at the BMW Showdown. Smith took the day off sailing to run the fund raiser at Willie Smith’s, his family’s wellknown cider-oriented restaurant at Grove, describing it as “a great success for a worthy cause.”



On the River Derwent, Sydney-based champion international sailor David Chapman took over the helm of Smigger for Showdown and, with a crack crew of Sam Tiedemann and Lewis Noye, won four of the five races at the weather-curtailed regatta. It was an outstanding effort by Chapman, a noted sail racing tactician who told the prizegiving at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania: “I haven’t taken the helm in five years.”

The opportunity to helm Smigger was a bonus for Chapman, giving him a taste of Derwent conditions leading up to the SB20 Nationals to be sailed here at the end of the month. Chapman and Tiedemann will then join local owner Michael Cooper in racing Export Roo. With the weather moderating after Friday and Saturday’s gales, the RYCT race officers showed their skills in completing five races for the SB20 and Dragon one-design keelboats and six for all the off-the-beach classes.

Smigger scored four wins and a second to finish with six points, 10 points clear of Black (Richard Fader) with Pinch (Frazer Read) a close third. Click here for overall results.


Words: Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania / Peter Campbell

Photos: Angus Calvert

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