SB20 UK National Championships 2019 at Sea View Yacht Club

Getting to the event was made incredibly easy with the club kindly organising luggage runs from Warsash, Hamble and Portsmouth. Meanwhile the class organised crane launching at Hornet Services Sailing Club in Gosport to help the visiting non Solent boats. For most Solent boats the passage to to the Club was less than two hours from their home berth. For the visitors from further afield it was an hour from Hornet SC. All Sprint Championships racing on the first day, Thursday 13th June, was abandoned due to high, gusting winds, and postponed until Friday morning, before the main event got underway.

On Friday the day dawned with similarly trying conditions, although less intense than the day before. It was set to be a hard day of racing, with four Sprint races followed by four races of the main event.

The four one-lap races laid bare how demanding this weekend was going to be, with a very high attrition rate. Xcellent (John Pollard) began their dominant run, with three straight wins in the first three races securing their place as Sprint Champions. #GameChanger, PBII, and Porco Rosso showed their intent with some strong finishes.

But the event was already taking its toll on the fleet, with Boatylicious losing their rig in an entanglement with another boat putting them out of the whole event at the beginning of the first day, while Reach Around (Christian Sutherland & Etienne Gauvain) lost a spreader, although fortunately no further damage was done. The strength of the class showed, as the stricken Boatylicious (Lee Boatman, Daniel Boatman, Dave Atkinson) donated a spreader to get Reach Around back on the water. The Club’s head boatman (Nick Hewitt) assisted with dropping and raising the rig and Reach Around incredibly only missed one race.

After a quick stop for a briefing for the main event and some lunch, the fleet went out to start the first four races of the Nationals. Reach Around narrowly missed the start, having just gotten the repaired rig in the air. A tight pin end bias lead to some hard fought starts. With a reasonably consistent tide across the course, it was key to find the quickest way through the gusts and shifts coming off the Island. Porco Rosso led home from Xcellent and #GameChanger, followed by B-Team and PBII. SB20 Race Team – Amica (Doug Innes, Michael Starkie & Ian Hudson) had their shroud fail after the first kite hoist, forcing a retirement, and to miss the rest of the day’s racing.

The second race ran much as the first race did, with Porco Rosso leading home Xcellent and Game Changer. Carnage and Sharc (Charlie Sheppard, Rosie Povall) kept up a close fight taking fourth and fifth respectively. One of the team on Sail Navy suffered a blow to the head at the end of the race. The team at Sea View showed why they’re a leading race venue, whisking them ashore for a paramedic to assess. Thankfully no lasting damage was done, but that was sadly another boat out of the event. Meanwhile, the club also aided Amica on sourcing another shroud (from Boatylicious who by now was back in Portsmouth), allowing them to repair the rig in time to get racing the next day.

Back on the water, the third race was started on the same pin bias line in the gusting conditions, including some interesting port tack tactics. At the front of the fleet, the top three swapped places, with Xcellent leading Game Changer and Porco Rosso home. Doris Reloaded put in a strong performance to take fourth ahead of a rallying Reach Around in fifth. In the final race of the day, Xcellent took their victory tally to two, fending off Reach Around who were fully in their stride and reminding the fleet what they’re capable of. #GameChanger took third from PBII and a charging 3 Fat Lads.

Overnight, the race committee, following a deteriorating forecast for Sunday, decided to bring one of the races forwards onto Saturday for a total of 5. The wind had again eased slightly from Friday, but still blowing over the Island was just as shifty and gusty. Another tight start line resulted in a general re-call, and the race team switched to the U flag to regain some control.

The first race proved a challenge even for the course itself, as the leeward gate marks started drifting closer, with the buoys within 1 boat length of each other for a time. Most boats made it through relatively unscathed but with a few ringing ears. Porco Rosso took advantage of the similar conditions to get back into the top spot ahead of Xcellent. B-Team brought back some of their flare to get back into 3rd, in front of #GameChanger and Carnage. During the last windward rounding Dark & Stormy SB20 Racing Team’s (Andrew Bell, Alida Lewis & Adam Kitchen) efforts to find some shrimp for the class dinner resulted in a torn kite. Switching to an old spare, some of the old guard would be pleased to see her old, “Hot Pants” kite bringing some style to the course. PBII (Paul Hine) damaged their boom gooseneck forcing a return to shore. Fortunately Kate Pollard (of Xcellent fame), offered to drive them over to get spares, and they were back on the course later in the day.

As the one-minute gun fired for the day’s second race, 6A Vision realised they hadn’t noticed the start sequence, and were caught over the line and were U-flagged without pulling a sheet in anger. The leading trio were led by Porco Rosso, then #GameChanger and Xcellent. Herbie (Phil Tilley) put in a cracking performance to get up into fourth spot ahead of B-Team. A wonky gybe on the 2nd downwind saw the crew on Dark & Stormy take a tumble. Initially the only damage seemed to be a banged hand on the jib cleat.

An eager fleet on the start of the third race saw four of the fleet U flagged, including front runner Porco Rosso. Xcellent lead from #GameChanger and Reach Around, while Amica took full advantage of the reduced fleet to snatch a hard fought fourth ahead of Herbie. During the race the crew on Dark & Stormy found the injury sustained in the previous race was only getting worse, and despite adapting roles to ease the pain, headed for shore after finishing to get it checked out. After an initial assessment onshore by the club the excellent Kate stepped in again to take Alida to hospital. An x-ray revealed that she had chipped one of her thumb bones. Fortunately, the recommendation was only two weeks out of sailing, so while that was the end of the event for her, no lasting damage was done. The crew on Reach Around also stepped up, ferry the stricken crew back to Sea View in the evening. After her short lived fame near the front of the fleet Amica’s bowman also suffered a hand injury resulting in her second day of retirement and putting her out of the event.

Back out on the water, Porco Rosso kept up the charge winning both the fourth and fifth races of the day. 3 Fat Lads put in yet another good showing to take third place in the last race of the day. That evening, the class gathered at the club on mass, and were treated to some fine dining by the club’s chefs.

With five races completed the previous day, only the last race of the series was on the cards for Sunday if the weather gods were playing ball. The call was made at 8:30 that morning that the race would go ahead. Having lost a member of their crew to injury the day before, Dark & Stormy weren’t going to go out without a fight (and a laugh) and headed to the race area two-up. This provided a great demonstration of the drastic effect that crew weight can have in the gusty conditions. Despite being slow but steady up-wind, they were lightning fast with the kite up downwind, keeping them within striking distance with the back of the fleet.

Meanwhile, at the sharp end of the fleet, Carnage were going out with a bang, rounding the windward mark in second, a real testament to the hard work the team have put in all season. At the leeward gate Porco Rosso lost a crew member in the rush. The fleet managed to keep clear, and one of the safety boats was rapidly on the scene to ensure the MOB’s safety before they could get back into the boat. Carnage took a gamble on going left downwind while the rest of the fleet stayed right, but this didn’t pay off. Across the line, Xcellent finished the series with a win to secure their position as reigning National Champions, followed home by Reach Around and Doris Reloaded. Carnage took fourth ahead of PBII in fifth.

The final top 5 results after a full ten race series are:
Place Sail No. Boat Name Helm Points

1 GBR 3754 Xcellent John Pollard 15
2 GBR 3720 Game Changer Julia Freesprit 24
3 AUS 3756 Porco Rosso Elliott Noye 27
4 GBR 3017 Reach Around Christian Sutherland 48
5 GBR 3732 Doris Reloaded Phil Rumbelow 56

Meanwhile “Sail Navy” won the Harken Youth Trophy.

Full results are available here

Many thanks to the Race Committee and the onshore team at the club for getting a full race series in despite trying conditions, all the crews and their support both onshore and afloat, and the international contingent who helped drive and support some world class competition.

Written by Adam Kitchen edited by Doug Innes.
Images by Richard Davies

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