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2022 SB20 Australian Championship in Hobart - Preview

by Jane Austin 8 Dec 2022 15:26 PST 10-12 December 2022

Sportsboat sailing fans are in for a treat when the SB20 Class hits the River Derwent in Hobart in December for the 2022 Australian Championship. The SB20 is a strict one-design class which makes for very close racing.

Results are determined by the skill of the skipper and crew with this year's regatta drawing some of Australia's leading local and interstate sailors fresh from their international campaigns.

All eyes will be on current SB20 Youth World Champions, Will Sargent (skipper), Ed Reid and Eirini Marios (Ares Racing Team), to see whether they can carry their world-beating form into the three-day event. Sargent, who skippered Taz Racing Team to success in the Australian Championship in Triabunna in 2020, is rated one of Australia's top match race skippers and is looking forward to capping off 2022 with a victory in his home waters.

"This has been a great year of learning for our team. We have shown everyone what we are capable of with our convincing win in the SB20 Tasmanian Championship in February, and while we slipped down the leader board on the final day of sailing in the SB20 worlds in Ireland finishing seventh overall, we won the youth title and are all set for the 2023 worlds in the Netherlands," said Sargent.

Joining Sargent onboard the new black-hulled 21st anniversary edition boat is fellow Australian Futures Sailing Program laser sailor, Paige Caldecoat from New South Wales. New to the Class, Caldecoat's experience racing in tight-knit, high-calibre fleets will be an advantage for the young team.

Sargent will face stiff competition from the star-studded fleet including current SB20 national champion Phil Reid, and prior champions Michael Cooper and Brett Cooper (no relation). Other formidable competitors include world champion Dragon sailor Nick Rogers and round-the-world racer David Graney. Add to this mix two highly skilled and enthusiastic young teams from The Hutchins School Sailing Academy to guarantee a first-class, and totally unpredictable, championship.

Mind Games will be strengthened with the return of Amelia Catt from Melbourne for their title defence. Leading the Mind Games charge is skipper Phil Reid with regulars Rohan Langford and Esther Read. Catt hopes that winning the Australian Championship will be the cherry-on-top of a highly successful year which saw Catt and Australian team-mate Chris Charlwood achieve world number one ranking in the Mixed 470 Class in August. Langford is quietly confident that the team is ready for the three-day regatta. "It's been a great year of sailing for our team. Our worlds campaign in Ireland was very useful for us in refining our crew work onboard and learning more about each other's strengths and weaknesses," said Langford.

Felicity Allison, skipper of Cook Your Own Dinner, is hoping a crew change will lift them up the rankings. "We are excited to have Charlie Connor onboard to give us some extra strength in the middle of the boat for when things go pear-shaped, and we are really hoping for some consistent breeze, hopefully at least 15 knots plus," said Allison. David Graney, skipper of Wedgewood, sailing with the talented Max Gluskie and experienced sailor and international juror, Murray Jones, is looking for light to moderate breezes of 10 to 15 knots and flat water to enhance their game plan.

Previous national champion, Michael Cooper (Export Roo) will be on the start line with star international sailor, David "Chappo" Chapman from New South Wales and local sailor, Lewis Noye onboard. Cooper hasn't sailed the SB20 for nearly 12 months so may take some time to hit top-form.

SB20 Class stalwart, Nick Rogers (Karabos), is sailing with Samuel King, also a member of the Australian Futures Sailing Program, who is back in Hobart after his international laser campaign which took him to Europe and Mexico, alongside long-time crew member, Simon Burrows. "I think the teams to watch are certainly Rebellion, the Ares Racing Team and Aeolus, but I am a firm believer that a champion team that works hard together will get the results over a team of champions," said Rogers. The SB20 national title has eluded Rogers, so expect some determined sailing from the world champion.

Final preparations are in full swing for the three-day event which will be hosted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania from Saturday 10 to Monday 12 December 2022. Ten races are scheduled over the three days with a maximum of five races on any day and all courses will be windward-leeward. The Race Officer for the regatta is Nick Hutton. Sailors will compete in the Overall, Youth and Masters' divisions with the first race start at 1pm.

A large spectator fleet is expected to follow the racing. Results will be posted here. Keep up to date with the daily action via SB20AUS social media channels.

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