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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

SB20 fleet ready to race for 2024 National title

by Jane Austin 21 Mar 01:06 PDT 23-25 March 2024
The SB20 fleet just after the start on the River Tamar © Jane Austin

SB20 sailors are assembling at Port Dalrymple Yacht Club at Beauty Point in the northeast of Tasmania for the 2024 Australian Championship which will be sailed from Saturday 23 to Monday 25 March 2024.

This year's fleet once again boasts several of the world's top SB20 sailors who are ready to go head-to-head on one of Australia's trickiest waterways, the River Tamar.

Hobart's Nick Rogers, sailing Karabos, will be gunning for the national title to add to his burgeoning trophy cabinet alongside the Tasmanian title that he won in February.

Rogers will be looking to his tactician Cole Dabner, who cut his sailing teeth on the River Tamar, for the inside running on tide and wind, but standing between Rogers and the title is an array of world class sailors.

Paul McCartney (Ares Racing) is a hot favourite to take the 2024 title.

McCartney, from the Derwent Sailing Squadron, is sailing alongside Will Sargent, the 2023 SB20 World Champion, and Sam Tiedemann, who finished fourth in this year's World Championship in Dubai.

Rogers can also expect tough competition from Nutcracker, skippered by Rob Davis from the Sandringham Yacht Club, with tactician David 'Chappo' Chapman, from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Tasmania's Jock Calvert onboard.

Davis is on the helm of an SB20 for the first time, and while he may be a newcomer to the fleet, he is no stranger to the intensity and skill of one design sailing, having finished second in the RS21 Worlds in Sardinia in 2023 alongside Chapman.

Chappo is downplaying his chances but expects top performances from Rogers and McCartney.

"Nick is the top boat in the Hobart-based pennant series while Paul is fresh from the [SB20] Worlds in Dubai - both will be strong favourites for the title. Steve Catchpool [sailing Rebellion] is also a dark horse and I expect Cook Your Own Dinner (CYOD) to do well," said Chapman.

Catchpool, winner of the SB20 Northern Championship in 2021, is ready to take on the challenge of the Tamar once again.

"The strong tides and shallow parts of the course will keep us on our toes, but we have done well here in the past.

"The sailing is going to be very close...I've had the same crew for a while now and the boat has had a tidy up so we're in good shape and will be looking to be up with the leaders," said Catchpool.

Newcastle's Paige Caldecoat, a member of both the winning 2024 Youth World Champion team and the 2023 Overall World Champion team, will be skippering Wicked and is one of the leading female helms alongside Australian Sailing Tasmania's General Manager, Felicity Allison from the CYOD team.

"Our team is really young for the most part with Nick Jones on the bow, Eirini Marios as mid, me helming, and Stephen Henley on main who does bring our average age up a bit.

"Most of us are in new positions... we are excited to mix it up with the more gelled teams and hopefully take a few bullets off their hands," said Caldecoat.

PDYC's Nick Mcelwee is sailing Delphinus with his crew of Tom Cooper and Josh Jones, talented sailors from the north of the state who will be keeping the pressure on the leaderboard.

Racing starts on Saturday afternoon with Race Officer Peter Sluce predicting a medley of weather conditions.

"I hope we'll get a sea breeze on Saturday, but the fun will start on Sunday and continue into Monday with 16 to 22 knot westerly winds forecast. A westerly at Beauty Point is like a compact version of a westerly on the River Derwent, which comes over the hill and escarpment at Beauty Point, and then shifts around a bit.

"First timers also need to be aware of what the tides are doing. On Saturday we will be starting on an outgoing tide which means we should be able to set the course so the tidal impact on the fleet will be minimal, whereas on Sunday and Monday, we will likely set an east to west course and will be running into the tide," said Sluce.

Despite the tricky forecast, Sluce expects the world class fleet to easily find their groove.

"There are top sailors in the SB20 Class who I expect will adapt to the conditions quickly, and I also expect that one of the local teams might pop up in the results because they know where to go," said Sluce.

There will be a maximum of ten races in the regatta with one discard after six races. The first warning signal on Saturday is at 1300 hours.

Follow the action on SB20AUS Facebook and results via the PDYC here.

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