SB20 Belgians 2019 won by Dutch Champion

Joint efforts of the SB20 Belgium and the Dutch SB20 Class Associations resulted in a fantastic, 15-boat strong regatta at the renowned Royal North Sea Yacht Club over the weekend! 

After a bit of slowdown on the SB20 scene in Belgium the idea to unite two closely located fleets was conceived at the Europeans last year and realised this August with a two-day open championship that welcomed seven Belgian and seven Dutch teams as well as one Ukrainian. 

The collaboration of the two local Clubs, each contributing to the event with race management, powerboats and staff, dinner venue etc the synergy effect paid off. The event ran as part of the Discovery Cup, which also included the local catamaran racing being supported by Land Rover. Overall success!

The weekend promised to be a tough fight, and that’s what is was from the beginning to the end. With the forecast varying from foggy showers to high 20s in the gusts, hopes were high for at least 6 races. Due to the full moon on the preceding day the RC expected strong currents, but in reality it was a surprise even for the local sailors.

Day 1 started with leaving the dock in rain in a South Westerly breeze calling the boats to the starting line by noon. Expecting to have enough time, the RC set up the windward/leeward race course with 1.1 nm first upwind beat with an extra 0.4 nm downwind. The rule of not crossing the start/finish line on reach/run was in the NoR, however some boats disregarded it throughout the races and were penalised..

Day 1 was almost a match-racing situation between the two top competitors of the Belgian and the Dutch fleets, these being Bart Tygat and Marco van Driel respectively. Strong performance was seen from the Dutch 3J’s, Ukrainian #GameChanger, and the Belgian Laser World champion Simon De Gendt on “7 seas sailing” and Hein Ruyten right from the start.

With upwind tactics varying from stretching to the shore to going mid-course it was on the downwind legs where it got tricky. With a handful of local knowledge “Go with the flow” of Bart Tytgat was making chess moves, gybing exactly for the layline while most of the fleet was still on the shore side. Rounding downwind Mark 1 was in the following sequence: Go with the flow, MXTC, 7 seas, 3J’s, De Keizer of Mark Snijder, Gert Lerno, #GC, Hein Ruyten.

On the second downwind leg it was time for the current to come into force and the boats were spread across the racecourse with more teams going out to sea for greater wind. Despite the lead throughout the race, it was on the finish line that MXTC of Marco van Driel arrived slightly ahead of Bart, winning the race. #GameChanger came in a strong 3rd after gaining a few places on the downwinds.

Race 2 saw a wind shift of 30 degrees and after a short delay with AP up it was a tricky start with several boats being over the line early, but only one turning back. A strong start for #GC and Selden on the pin. The first upwind mark saw Sharkbite of Gert Lerno rounding first leaving Marco and Bart behind. 

The current was so strong that some of the boats couldn’t get to the second mark as they were swept past the mark and forced to tack back and lose time getting back on speed. 

The downwind saw one MOB situation, but quickly recovered, again flying downwind witnessed great come backs, one of them being for #GameChanger with a combination of tactics and great boat handling in strong breeze. Heading over to the finish, the top 6 places were match-races to the line: those being Bart Tytgat and Marco van Driel as the first duo, Martijn Buitenhuis and Simon De Gendt as 3rd and 4th and 3J’s and #GameChanger for 5th & 6th.

Race 3 started with shortening the race-cource upwind to 0.8 miles as the time it took to go up was beginning to become too long. The current was now in full flow against the starting boats, which together with the big choppy waves made it a real fight for survival. After a clear start the leading boats were Buitenhuis Advies, MXTC and Sharkbite. With the wind picking up during the downwind legs, there was some difficulty with hoisting spinnakers, eventually losing them in the water and some breakages – one of them being the top team “Go with the flow”, who after a clash with another boat lost their mast resulting in DNF, dropping them out from further competition. Winners of this battle were MXTC, #GameChanger and 3J’s accordingly. 

After Day 1 and the OCSs from MXTC, 3J’s and Sharkbite, who also got disqualified after a protest against them, the Top 3 looked as follows: #GameChanger, 7 seas sailing of Simon De Gendt and Buitenhuis Advies.

Exhausted after a tiring day the participants headed over to the partnering TwinsClub, taken there in style on Land Rover shuttles who sponsored the overall Discovery Cup. Grilled lobsters and Belgian beer together with watching the photos of the day created a charming atmosphere in the stunning Beach House interiors.

Day 2 greeted the fleet with no rain and light breeze as well with an earlier start. With the tricky current still flowing from the East many boats were pushed over the line, hence Race 4 started with a general recall. After second clear start the leading boats were 3J’s, Selden, MXTC, Buitenhuis and North Sea One of local coach Filip Willems. 

Rounding the top mark, the wind dropped making it difficult to hoist, but 3J’s, Selden, MXTC and Buitenhuis have made it through pretty quickly, while others continued with sails flapping sailing against the current. At the downwind mark it was MXTC and 3J’s with #GC arriving in third after rounding the top mark in 5th. 

Wind shifted considerably to the West resulting many boats heading out to sea. Second top rounding sequence: 3J’s, MXTC, Selden, Buitenhuis and #GC, after which 3J’s quickly gained considerable advantage going to the shore, while MXTC, Selden, Buitenhuis and #GC remained in the middle. 

Finish line witnessed the same sequence of teams, making the 3J’s smile as they arrived first. There was a strong finish in 4th by Filip Willems followed by Martijn Buitenhuis.

Race 5 started after a bit of waiting for more wind. Good one for #GC, MXTC, North Sea One with less current this time. Local Filip Willems arrived first to top mark followed by #GC, De Keizer, MXTC, 3J’s and 7 seas. On the downwind the top three positions remained the same, but Simon on 7 seas made it to the 4th overtaking Marco and 3J’s. 

With brilliant tactics 7 seas arrived to the second upwind rounding ahead of the previously leading North Sea One. #GameChanger rounded in third, after that on the downwind they were unbeatable, managing to gain a lot, finished first. Marco with MXTC and Simon with 7 Seas followed in 2nd and 3rd, which with the discard secured the win for MXTC, however with the OCS the day before it was there was stil lall to play..

Race 6 started at 14:00, an hour before the time limit, after another general recall and a wind shift resulting in alterations to the starting line. 

Motivated after the previous race Team “7 Seas sailing” arrived first to the mark with 3J’s and MXTC following closely. With stronger breeze and finally some glorious Belgian sunshine, the boats were flying quickly downwind with 7 Seas in first followed by #GC and MXTC. 

7 Seas continued to sail strongly, but 3J’s were hungry to win and MXTC were close behind. The final bit saw a battle between these three boats resulting in 3J’s getting first to the finish ahead of MXTC second and 7 Seas in third, followed by Martijn Buitenhuis and Filip Willems.

Final results were with the current Dutch National Champion Marco van Driel and team MXTC (sailing with Joost Assman and Martijn Worseling) claiming the title, happy 3J’s of Jeroen van der Velden sailing with Jan van der Meijden and invited crew N (being Nic Bol) in second and the Ukrainian team #GameChanger of Julia Freespirit (sailing with Semen Dmitrenko, Pavlo Matsuev and Viktor Kandyba), tied on point with 3J’s, in third. What a championship!

While Dutch SB20 are hoping for strong numbers for their Nationals in September, Belgian teams could not only add to the numbers, but win the title sailing really strongly in local waters.

Overall results

All photos from the event

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