Three Hobart women become first Australian female owners of an SB20

SB20s competing their Australian championship on Hobarts River Derwent last summer
Jane Austin
Three Hobart women have become the first female owners in Australia of an SB20, the fast and exciting one-design sports boat that is sailing from strength to strength on the River Derwent.

Colleen Darcey, Sally Rattle and Caroline Walker will started racing in the 12-boat strong Hobart fleet in last evening’s weekly twilight pennant series conducted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and Derwent Sailing Squadron.

The trio decided to buy an SB20, which they have named Sudden Impulse, after sailing in a ‘guest’ boat during the winter.

'A lot of our friends sail SB20s and Nick Rogers convinced us we would get a lot of fun out of the boat, which is sailed by a crew of three,' Colleen said before competing in the Derwent Sailing Squadron’s Sprint Series for the class last Sunday.

Colleen and Sally sailed in the Sprint Series, but Caroline was recovering from a torn hamstring muscle, her place being taken by male sailor Doug Watkins. All three sailed last evening, notching up a sixth and fourth in the closely contested racing.

Women SB20 owners, from left, Colleen Darcey, Caroline Walker and Sally Rattle at the Derwent Sailing Squadron
Rob Cruse

Colleen, Sally and Caroline are widely experienced keelboat sailors, having been key members of the Tasmanian crew that earlier this year won the Australian women’s keelboat champion on Melbourne’s Port Phillip, sailing the Archambault 31, Penfold Audi Sport.

Sally also owns the successful ocean racing yacht Archie and the three women, with additional crew, planning to campaign the Archambault 35 at the Geelong Race Week in late January. Caroline will also be sailing on David Taylor’s Pisces in the Launceston to Hobart Race in late December.

The SB20 is an ideal boat for women sailors, according to champion Dragon class sailor Nick Rogers, who introduced the class into Hobart and has seen the fleet grow to a dozen boats.

'Until now we have had only male owners, but quite a few women have crewed on the boats,' said Rogers, who in December will contest the SB20 world championship at Hamilton Island.

'They are strictly one-design, easy to sail and the gear is not heavy to handle – a perfect small keelboat for women to race,' Rogers added. 'I am confident Colleen, Sally and Caroline will do well and stimulate the interest of other women sailors in the SB20s.'

The SB20 fleet races on Thursday evenings on the Derwent as a part of the combined RYCT/DSS twilights, but are sailing a series of windward/leeward races on their own course. This season the SB20s will race as a class in the Audi Showdown regatta in November and the Crown Series next February, which will also be the Tasmanian championship.

Nick Rogers is also planning a mini regatta in Sullivans Cove on December 30, adding to the spectacle of yachts finishing the ocean races from Sydney, Launceston and Melbourne, with rounding marks close to the Taste of Tasmania.
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