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Spring Bay Mill SB20 Australian Championship 2020 - Preview

by Jane Austin 5 Mar 2020 14:27 PST 7-9 March 2020
The SB20 fleet on the start line in Hobart on the River Derwent © Jane Austin

The Australian SB20 fleet is contesting its national championship on Spring Bay on the east coast of Tasmania this long-weekend in a first for the fleet. The Spring Bay Mill SB20 Australian Championship will be sailed over three days in what will be an intense competition on the water.

The 2019 champion Michael Cooper (Export Roo) will be defending his title without hotshot sailor David Chapman onboard who is sailing J70s in the United States. Cooper will face some tough competition from Andrew Smith (Imp) and Brett Cooper (Aeolus) who placed third and fifth respectively in the World Championship in France last October.

While these world class crews are not short of sailing talent, they will be short of racing practice as they have missed most of the summer pennant series in Hobart after taking a break following their Worlds' campaigns.

Other teams in contention include Oli Burnell (Honey Badger), the current Tasmanian summer pennant series leader; Victorian entry and current Tasmanian SB20 Champion Chris Dare (Ambition) and runner-up Stephen Catchpool (Rebellion). Felicity Allison (Cook Your Own Dinner) is hot favourite to take out the Women's Division, while David Graney (Wedgewood) is in good form to take the Masters' title.

There will be plenty of young guns on the water with the competition expected to be intense in the Youth Division. Will Sargent (Taz Racing Team) is a fierce competitor on the racecourse, however he will need to keep a cool head to hold off talented helmsman and 29er sailor Charlie Goodfellow (Obi Kenobi) and Howard Tapping (Warwick Dean-THSSA) to win the Division.

Catchpool, the SB20 Australia Class President, is thrilled that the event has been so generously supported by Spring Bay Mill, the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania and the local Spring Bay Boat Club.

"It's great to be racing so close to some of Australia's greatest natural attractions like Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula and the Maria Island National Park, as well as to have the opportunity to celebrate the SB20 Class dinner in the new Banksia Room at the Spring Bay Mill," said Catchpool.

Spring Bay Mill owners Graeme Wood and partner Anna Cerneaz have been strong supporters of the SB20 Class in Australia, purchasing four SB20s to form the Athena Sailing Program which was established to introduce and empower women to be confident in the male-dominated sport of sailing. It is fitting that the event will run across International Women's Day on Sunday 8 March.

"Staging the event on Spring Bay will expose the SB20 Class to a new audience and provide ideal sailing conditions for competitors. I've always liked the SB20 because it is accessible for all age groups and offers the best of competition for elite sailors," said Wood

Full details of the regatta, which is sailed under the authority of the Derwent Sailing Squadron, are at dssinc.org.au.

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