Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

SB20 national title - Local skipper tuned up

by Lisa Ratcliff on 16 Oct 2013
Robert Jeffreys at the 2013 Worlds Katie Jackson
The Australian SB20 fleet is preparing for its national title on the eastern side of Victoria’s Port Phillip, and one skipper is definitely battle ready.

Over the past year, Melbourne based Stephen Fries has contested the 2012 SB20 worlds at Hamilton Island, the SB20 worlds at Hyeres in the south of France last month and the Melges 24 World Championship on San Francisco Bay this month. In a fortnight’s time Fries will be back on the water at his host club for the Brighton BMW SB20 National Championship, October 25th – 27th.

Fries led the best placed Antipodean team at the recent SB20 Worlds, finishing 36th from the busy 90-strong one design fleet.

Two weeks later he met up with Australian skipper David Bull at the Melges 24 Worlds in San Francisco, finishing 42nd with Bull’s Jester 4. Fries is due back this week for a short stint at the office before roping in some crew for his nationals tilt.

Not many can take extended periods of time off work like Fries, who runs his own engineering firm. This means his biggest first world problem is keeping the same crew together as he lines up for back-to-back national and world titles.

On his chances at the upcoming Aussies Fries says, 'The racing side of things puts me in good condition to compete, but the lack of training with a steady crew will show up in close situations or when it is heavy air. I will have to see who I can get to race with me, and how windy the regatta is.'’

He’ll be easy to spot among the fleet racing off SYC with his crazy curly hair that reportedly adds 4-6 inches to his height when it’s standing on end.

Fries started sailing at 11 years old in his dad's Heron. His father helped him build his first boat, a Sailfish, before the pair moved onto constructing Stephen a Flying Ant followed by three Cherub dinghies. As a teenager Fries raced these boats on weekends and competed in most state and national championships and as he graduated to adulthood his zest for competition only strengthened.

More than three decades of competing at the highest level, including 13 years of national and international Contender racing, eventually took their toll and in 2005 Fries’ hip and knees wore out, forcing him to hang up his sailing gloves.

He underwent more than 14 operations and now carries bits of plastic and metal in both knees and a replaced right hip, but was able to return to the sport in 2007 as a coach, attaining national qualification and coaching the Sandringham Yacht Club’s (SYC) youth program for a couple of years.

In 2009 he bought his first SB20 and then later a second one he keeps in Italy for the Northern Hemisphere regattas.

'The size of the SB20 makes it manageable for a large range of people,' says Fries. 'It’s a cost effective sportsboat with a strong following in Australia and especially worldwide, attracting up to 100 entrants at European worlds.'

At least one family member is truly supportive of dad’s passion, 20 year-old daughter Jess who sails with Fries regularly out of SYC and will be counted as crew for the looming Brighton BMW nationals.


Australian class president, Robert Jeffreys, also contested the world championship at Hyeres where he and his crew enjoyed valuable match practice against a strong international fleet. Fresh winds sorted the field out pretty quickly with gear breakages and crew injuries scuttling the final points tally. Jeffreys was beset with challenges aboard his SB20 Red, missing two days of competition and as a result of successive injuries rotating through three different for’ard hands over five days.

Of the 14 entries so far for the three-day Brighton BMW SB20 National Championship to be hosted by SYC October 25th – 27th, Tasmania and Victoria are both despatching an army of six teams apiece, making the southern states the most active of the Australian class. Jeffreys is expecting a few more entries to bring up a total of 15 or 16 SB20s.

With the dominant defending national champion Glenn Bourke electing not to protect his crown, the fleet has been handed an opportunity to raise a new champion aloft.

Victoria and Tasmania might dominate the starter’s list but north of the border Sydney’s Ian Brown has gathered a formidable crew of talented 470 sailors to mount a serious challenge. Brothers Alexander and Patrick Conway, second best among the Australians results at the recent worlds in France, and the fourth best 470 Aussie skipper, Scott Cotton, will pull the strings. Brown’s no slouch either; his credentials include Olympic 470 bronze medallist and Olympic coach, Moth world champion and top four in the world in numerous classes.

Series sponsor Brighton BMW has awarded the use of a brand new car to three lucky interstate teams, to help them navigate to the host club and around the Bay area. The draw was a clean sweep for the apple isle with three Tassie crews announced as winners; Peter Jones (Andthen), Scott Brain, (Brainwave) and Nick Rogers (Karabos).

'The lucky three winners will enjoy an ultimate driving machine for a weekend of BMW sheer driving pleasure,' said Sean Evans, sales manager of Brighton BMW.

Thursday 24th October has been set aside for registration and boat and crew weigh-ins. Racing will commence on Port Phillip on Friday October 25th with the first warning signal at 10.45am. Up to 12 windward/leeward races may be sailed over three days.

Barz Optics - Melanin LensesBakewell-White Yacht DesignSouthern Spars - 100

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
The importance of being Alive
Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, the team have lined up for a lot of things, won plenty and nabbed a record, as well. She’s presently in a yard in the Philippines having a minor refit in readiness for the Australian season. It will commence with the upcoming Brisbane to Keppel and then head sharply into this year’s Hobart.
Posted on 10 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May