BIG BREEZE RUSSIAN NATIONALS AT ST PETERSBURG
A year after the SB20 World Championships visited St Petersburg, the class continues to build momentum in Russia. For this year’s Open Russian SB20 Nationals around 30 boats have convened, to make the regatta one of the most competitive Russian keelboat championships. Racing started August 27th August until August 29th.
This is the sixth year that the St Petersburg Yacht Club has hosted the Russian SB20 class’s biggest regatta. In 2015 the bulk of the fleet came from the host city, with visitors from Moscow making up the rest. Entries included double world championships runner-up Ukrainian sailor Andrey Klochko as well as top 10 finishers at the recent 2015 Worlds in Lake Garda,Italy – Russian Team Nika and Melston Team.
The fleet is a true mix of seasoned sailors, amateurs and young Olympians. Several acting and former Russian Olympic team members from the 470, Nacra 17 and 49er class are competing, including Daniil Banayan, Maxim Yezhov, Artem Basalkin, Maxim Sheremetyev and Maxim Sudachkov.
Racing began with perfect conditions on the Finnish Gulf, and four races held on the first day. With four straight wins Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika emerged an early leader. He explained after racing: “Key to our success was good starts and a good first upwind leg. We were first to the mark all races but one. And even then we managed to win.”
As it might be expected, Vladimir’s main rivals are VIS Team, with Vadim Pushev on the helm. “We followed our competitors closely finishing right after Nika in all races. Only the last race was unsuccessful as we caught nets on our keel,” he commented.
The battle for the third place was very fierce with several teams counted more than one top three finish during the day. After the first day’s racing a small advantage was held by Vasiliy Grigoryev from Moscow. The forecast for the remaining two days of racing was for stronger winds in St Petersburg. “This allows strong teams to concentrate on their own competition while amateurs will fight for survival,” suggested Vadim Pushev, “so we expect the leading group to solidify their results.”
Forecasts proved correct, and for the next two days the Finnish Gulf threw everything at the 29-strong Russian SB20 fleet, testing the competitors to the limit on the last day of racing. With winds of 25 knots and big seas two races were completed on August 29th, the fleet was dotted with numerous broaches and several MOBs, as well as 18-knot downwind surfing sessions, seeing only the most prepared teams able to complete the day.
Having won six out of nine races Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika’s victory was almost decided with a day to spare. But the fate of the silver and bronze medals both on the Corinthian and overall leaderboards were still at stake on the final day of races.
Several teams were seeking podium positions and it was Moscow’s Vasily Grigiryev who showed the best result of the day with a first and second finish. But it wasn’t enough to overturn the table and last year’s Grand Slam winners Melston Teamsecured bronze overall with a 1 point advantage, leaving the Moscow team with the Corinthian podium.
Silver medals in both the overall and Corinthian divisions went to the skilled VIS Team, made up of former 470 Russian sailors Vadim Pushev and Timur Sabrizyanov, who together have finished recent worlds in the top 10. “Now we are planning to compete in the French nationals in the fall, and then start winter sessions in Portugal with the aim for next year’s SB20 worlds there,” says VIS Team leader Timur Sabrizyanov.
The same plan was aired by the winner’s team leader and helm Vladimir Prosikhin: “In Garda Russians were the strongest team and took the Nation’s Cup, next year we think we may finally make the podium.”
Thanks to the beautiful whether and great organization by St Petersburg YC and the National SB20 Association the sixth Russian SB20 Nationals were big success. Twenty-nine teams with both professional and amateur sailors really enjoyed the event, and there were also strong signs for the class in Russia with several new teams making it to the start line, promising fleet growth for next season both in Moscow and St Petersburg.