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Australians set for SB20 Worlds contest

by Jane Austin 20 Oct 18:40 PDT 19-25 October 2019
2019 SB20 World Championship - Sin Bin from Finland © Pierrick Contin

Australia's SB20 sailors are primed for five days of intense sailing as the 2019 SB20 World Championship gets under way in France on Monday. The World Championship is the pinnacle event for the SB20 Class, and the international fleet can expect slick and aggressive sailing from the Australians as they vie for the coveted Waterford crystal trophy and the World Champion title.

Porco Rosso (Paul McCartney, Elliott Noye and Ed Snowball) has had an intense lead-up to the Worlds, securing bronze in the SB20 UK Nationals, sixth in the Portuguese Nationals and ninth in the pre-worlds French Grand Slam. "The team is feeling good and looking forward to the regatta - there are plenty of good teams, so we'll just be sailing our own regatta and see how things unfold," said Snowball.

The Imp (Andrew Smith and Lewis Noye) competed in the pre-Worlds Grand Slam, event finishing in eighth place. Smith sailed the Grand Slam with Hyeres-local Mikael Mergui, and there's no doubt that the local knowledge gave the Aussie lads a good introduction to sailing on the Mediterranean. The team welcomes current Australian SB20 Champion David Chapman back onboard for the Worlds and is already benefiting from his presence in Hyeres, according to skipper Andrew Smith.

"We are feeling good and have nothing to lose this campaign - it's all positive for me as I'm just a farmer going sailing. Chappo [Chapman] is settling in nicely and has definitely lifted the intensity on the boat. The French have left no stone unturned in their preparations and I feel that there are 10 or even 20 boats that are good enough to win this regatta," said Smith

Aeolus (Brett Cooper, Darren Jones and Jock Calvert) will be keen to carry on their exceptional form during the Grand Slam in which they finished in seventh place. The team was the leading Australian team in the 2018 Worlds which were held in Hobart in 2018, where they finished in sixth place.

Essence of Athena (Anna Reid, Meg Goodfellow, Emily Nicholson and Issi Declerck) are going into the Worlds with an open mind and are keen to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. The Athena team will be hoping there's some luck in sailing as Essence of Athena, as Hobart-based Clare Dabner sailed Essence of Athena to victory in the 2018 SB20 World Championship but is not defending her title in France.

Overall, the pace has well and truly been set by the crack French crew of Give Me Five FFV Youth (Robin Follin, Emeric Michael, Gaulthier Germain and Laurie Candela) who won six of nine races in the French Grand Slam. Follin is a talented and highly competitive skipper and is keen to make amends after finishing as runner-up in Hobart in 2018.

The Australians can expect stiff competition from the Russians, the Portuguese and defending World Champion Gabrielle Szoczek, sailing with Team FFVoile Esquichade. The GBR team, Xcellent (John Pollard, Jack Wetherell, Stephen Procter) is certainly a team to watch, with the waters of Hyeres like a second home to the UK National Champions.

After a hectic practice race which saw heavy conditions and only 23 boats participating, the forecast for Monday is light with less than five knots from the west. The breeze is forecast to build on Tuesday from 20 to 25 knots out of the east, with a storm forecast for Wednesday.

Racing starts at 11am on Monday 21 October 2019. Twelve races are scheduled with a discard after five races and a further discard after 10. There is no warning signal after 1400 on the final day.

The championship is sailed under the authority of the Cercle D'Organisation de Yachting de Competition Hyerois (COYCH) in Hyeres with the SB20 Class.

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