Come December most of the Australian SB20 fleet contesting Audi Hamilton Island Race Week will be back to pit their skills against the world’s best when Hamilton Island hosts the UON SB20 World Championships.
Up to 60 one design 20-footers will be shipped from around Australian and the globe to the Whitsunday Islands for the class’ world title fight, to be staged from December 13 to 21. The timing coincides with the European cycle to allow maximum numbers to attend before their 2013 season commences.
At Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, clubhouse leader Glenn Bourke, an SB20 European champion and multiple world champion in the Laser class racing, is leading Phillip Gray’s Dulon Polish by five points after nine races on Turtle Bay to the east of Hamilton Island with two days’ competition remaining.
‘It’s very close,’ admits Bourke. ‘It’s been quite shifty out there, people are being rewarded for some tactical manoeuvres and we’ve been punished on a couple of occasions, which has made it a battle for us at times.
‘I think it’s really interesting for us to be out there on the world’s course. Because the current isn’t always obvious there’s some back eddies there that create some tactical conundrums.
‘It’s good to be getting some exposure to that before the rest of the world arrives,’ Bourke added.
SB20 Australian class president and mainsheet for Bourke’s SB20 Club Marine, Rod Jones, says they are expecting around 60 SB20s including the current two-time world champion, Geoff Carveth from the UK.
New Caledonia, Singapore, Russian, United Arab Emirates and European countries such as the Netherlands, France, Ireland and Germany are expected to field entries.
Australia brags the fourth largest SB20 fleet in the world and all its top players will be at the UON SB20 World Championship.
Formerly the SB3s, the brand has undergone regeneration. A new manufacturer is making the moulds in the UK, where the class originated, hence the new class name, SB20s.
The boats are exactly the same, sailed by up 3-4 people or up to a maximum 270 kilograms of crew weight, and they are the difference given the one design boats are close to identical.
Competing at his first Race Week is Mark Keogh, the managing director of the world’s naming rights sponsor, UON, which provides power generation, air compressors and water pumping solutions and transport to the mining and resources sectors.
This week Mark has joined his brother Declan, who is on the helm, and James Dowling on the bow of UON Racing, for his first SB20 regatta. In December the Keogh brothers will be back to fly the Aussie flag and take on the world’s best.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2012. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.