New SB20 World Champion 2019 crowned in Hyères!
New SB20 World Champion 2019 was crowned in Hyères this week! After 8 races and five very challenging days team Give Me Five of Robin Follin, Emeric Michel, Gaulthier Germain and Laurie Candela claimed the title.
The final day started with 4-7 knots of wind with the first warning signal was to be called at 10:00. After some delay the North West wind increased more than predicted and the fleet was able to sail two tricky races.
The racecourse was positioned very close to the shore and it was quite difficult to find the right side on the first leg. It was the 2016 World Champion team New Territories who got it right and arrived in first to the top mark. Followed closely by Russian team MST, team “Have you got your tickets?” and then B-team. In these conditions the experience of sailors was key, and the Olympian Hugo Rocha calling tactics on New Territories, started on the right near Robin Follin, so did the Australian Brett Cooper. B-team and MST had a feeling the left hand-side will pay and it did!
On the downwind rounding it was the same order, but B-team was faster and overtook French Youth girls (FRA3581). Having gained some advantage, New Territories, MST and B-team finished in that order, followed by the French girls. While the front boats still made some progress with free wind, the rest of the fleet was getting dirty air from all sides sending them further behind. The course was shortened for the second upwind. Tricky conditions even for the local sailors which resulted in overall leader Robin Follin to finish only in 16th – his new discard potentially putting a small threat to his Champion title.
On the following teams – skippered by Julia Freespirit #GameChanger, who played it in the middle of the racecourse, avoided going to the corners and got a nice result in 6th. Good race for new team from Turkey Beko – Do La Zerafet of Guray Zunbul, who were around 10th place during the race and finished in 8th behind Skin in the Game of Ed Russo – their best result this week. Ed was sailing here in Hyères with Olympic Star sailor Pierre Alexis Ponsot and Gilles Favennec, his long-standing SB20 partner.
David “Chappo” Chapman tactician on The Imp, who have sailed very consistently avoiding any UFDs and DSQs this week, commented: “We were positioned close to the committee boat for most of the regatta, keep it simple and just sail some clear lines today. The wind was a bit lighter, very shifty. We had a good start in the first race and we able to go where we wanted to go, just kind of chip away from there. Unfortunately we got a penalty on the first downwind and it was my fault. I had my feet over the side of the boat on the bow. I didn’t think it was as bad as it was, but the Umpires felt we deserved a penalty and we took it on the chin and kept going. We dropped back a little bit, but we managed to pick up three boats in the end. Finished in 11th. It turned out to be our drop. Good job from the guys!”
Race 8 with the same wind direction was supposed to start around 11:10, but already after the Uniform flag the RC displayed an AP due to a massive shift. After about 15 min of waiting the AP was down and RC called Race 8. Another shift and a general recall postponed again the start of the race. Clear start this time and boats were heading up quite steadily, when 10 meters before the top rounding the RC sent November flag supposedly due to a big shift, which some sailors considered “not so significant”.
After more waiting it was already at 12:40 that the RC managed to start Race 8, already in a hurry to make it before the limit time at 14:00. Wind was sort of stable around 7 knots shifting within 10 degrees NNW, Black flag displayed.
With that in mind the fleet preferred the right hand-side of the starting line however they split mid course and arrived at the top mark mostly on starboard, B-team and Robin leading, however there were several boats arriving on port. It was Christian Sutherland, Ian Ainslie and Brett Cooper on Aeolus, the latter making it just in front of B-team and Give me Five and hoisting their spinnaker with a bit of a twist at first, but quickly recovering and continuing their downwind into the right side.
B-team gybed early and went left, where they lost a bit of speed, but so did those who went right – New Territories, both Robin Follin and Gabriel Skoczek. On the downwind mark B-team arrived together with Aeolus, but took different marks of the gate. B-team took the left one and went right after that and Aeolus the opposite. Robin only rounded after them, at this time he already knew he was going to win the Championship, so wasn’t worried about being 3rd. The course was shortened again and B-team got more breeze on the right side, which later allowed them to gain some lead on the downwind avoiding the Aussies and Robin. Finished first, the Russian team looked very happy for their first win in what happened to become the last race of the Championship.
Aeolus and Give me Five followed in second and third.
“Second race we had an ok start and got squeezed out pretty quickly, ended up in the second hand wind just trying to fight for the lane. We managed to get top left right at the end and so we just knocked into the top 10 at the top mark. It was probably our whole bit of luck for the week of the regatta and we ended up in sixth. So we were very very happy with that. My first time here and first time with this crew. Unfortunate conditions, I think we were at least a week late, but it is what it is. Everyone says it’s a really good venue, maybe we just got here in a non-favourable time of the year,” – commented busy Australian “Chappo”, who has recently won the German Nationals on J70 and is heading back there for a regatta next morning.
At 13:40 after two unsuccessful attempts with general recalls the starting time limit (14:00) has expired sending the fleet to the shore and making Give me Five the SB20 World Champion 2019! Winning the last race and coming to the end of the week with 32 points B-team was second and The Imp of the Tasmanian skipper Andrew Smith.
Happy Robin Follin commented after racing:
“Really good finish for us, this morning we were in a good position for the title with 20 points between the Russian team and us. The day was difficult and we did a mistake on the first race and finished 16th. But we stayed calm and knew we had to finish no lower than 4th place after the Russian B-team. They won the last race and we finished third, so before that race we already knew we were probably going to be the World Champions. It’s a really good achievement, and it’s great to do it in Hyères because it’s our best place for sailing! We did all our SB20 training since 2014 here. And for me it is also special because I won my first Optimist competition here, so it’s a lot of good memories. Also with all the family and friends here, it’s was just great. The team did a great job, thanks to Gaulthier, Emeric and Laurie who were at the maximum!”
Artem Basalkin, owner and tactician of B-team told us after the Championship a little bit about B-team (“B” stands for Basalkin), that he was supposed to come to the Worlds with another project, but that hadn’t worked out and back in June he decided to make his own team. With a couple of boats back in Russia, where Artem coaches several teams, he just needed a crew and Alexey Lesnikov turned up right in time after sailing SB20 back in St. Petersburg for the last 4 years as a trimmer. It was decided that he tries going on the helm and that worked very well, leading them win the Rusian National Championship back in September. Two other trimmers onboard are Artem’s wife Yana and a Youth 470 sailor from Sevastopol – Andrey Tukalov. Their next big ambition was to win in Hyères and after a busy summer training they ended up second at the Worlds!
“I’ve sailed in Hyères 8 or 9 times in Olympic Classes [470 and 49er] and four times on SB20,” – said Artem, “so I had enough time to learn the patterns of the bay. Yes, we didn’t get that classic Mistral last week, but I think it was a great championship. The Eastern wind here gives this rough chop on the water, which is very similar to what we get back home in St. Petersburg and we like it. The Western wind goes against the current and we get the same “dancing” waves. When you come to the 2021 Europeans you will see it yourself!”
The Championship is over and the rest of the leaderboard goes home in mixed feelings, but amazed by the fantastic work of the Race Committee and the COYCH Club, who has facilitated these 8 races in such difficult conditions! The SB20 Class is greatful to PRO Natalie Peberel and COYCH administaration for an unforgettable week!
Full results can be found here.