SB20 Australia – ambitious, inclusive, diverse!
In this month’s spotlight we look at SB20 Australia that runs a busy sailing schedule while the European part of our fleet is resting in preparation for a new sailing year. The Australian SB20 community also shows an incredible example in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Our media manager Anna Zyk joined the SB20 Tasmanian State championship organised as part of the Banjo’s Shoreline Crown Series Bellerive Regatta on beautiful River Derwent in Hobart on 25-26 February 2023.
Here, we had a chance to witness not only a variety of conditions ranging from 0 knots to 25 in one day, but also sailors – of various backgrounds, genders and age. SB20 Class has always been inclusive, we welcomed and allowed participation of sailors of all ages and genders, but here in Tasmania it seems to be stepping onto a whole new level.
Speaking about diversity and inclusion we should mention the name of 2016 Silver medallist in 2.4m class at the Rio Paralympics and 2014 AUS Para sailor of the year – Matt Dugg, who, thanks to SB20 Class’ rule C7.3(i) can now enjoy sailing with a crew.
Matt has placed his SB20 helmsman’s seat on tracks that run athwartship, he can control the moves to port or starboard using buttons on the tiller extension. And even if he hasn’t solved moving the seat back and forth for windier sailing, the crew helps by sitting behind him. Isn’t it a great example of inclusion? Jump here to read the full story about Matt in this month’s article by Australian Sailing Resources.
After racing we quickly caught up with Nick Rogers, team Karabos, who was 10th overall at the 2018 SB20 Hobart World Championship. Recent champion in the Masters division at the 2022 SB20 Australian Nationals Nick is known as a multiple champion of the Prince Philip Cup – the elite Australasian championship for International Dragon class (by multiple we mean at least a dozen of titles).
Nick enjoys racing against some of the top Australian sailors as well as shares a role of Tasmanian SB20 distributor. After a tricky day in Hobart he shared his thoughts on what helps them to stay in the lead (Karabos scored one bullet and finished almost all races in 2nd place in this championship).
“It’s not always easy to stay in the lead, also because of the level of sailing we have here in Hobart, – says Nick. – “We try to get a good start and we look for pressure. Especially in the light breeze, when we always try to look for the pressure. Col, who is my middle man is very good at picking up the pressure and also Sam, who is my far end hand, who sails very good as well. And when it gets to the Southern wind blasting really hard and we get 25 knots it’s all about working as a team as well and making it safely to the finish”.
Felicity Allison, team “Cook your own dinner” has ben sailing for 40 years. Part of the SB20 Australia team Felicity has been racing in our Class for five years. This all-female team is a frequent participant of all National and State titles each year as well as the Thursday Twilight racing. Felicity’s passion for high speed sailing started early and went through 470s, windsurfing and finally with the SB20s. In sailing she enjoys “lots of fun and so many great memories and life long friends”, – commented Felicity after a fun gusty downwind on River Derwent during the State Championship. “I love going fast!”, – she adds.
“We decided to have an all-girls SB20 team from day 1!” – says Felicity – “There are so many great women sailors in Hobart and we wanted them to experience the fun of SB20. We do find it tricky, when it blows, so we tend to play it safe! I love the chance to sail an exciting boat against some of the best sailors in Australia. We have a very competitive fleet and a great group of people. Sometimes I’m racing against my 2 sons and that is always special. Such an inclusive class for so many ages. We like to always bring in a new crew person into the class as often as we can. This keeps fresh people coming into sailing the SB20’s and always add a fresh face.”
The memories of large fleet racing back in 2018’s SB20 Worlds in Hobart will keep the team motivated and hopefully we will see Felicity and the girls at one of the coming world championships, some of which will be happening closer to Australia making it easier for the Aussie teams to be involved.
Youth programmes in Tasmania range from school and university level support to private initiatives. One of them is great example of dedication and ambition that many of us witnessed at the 2022 SB20 Worlds in Ireland. Team Ares that was formed by Will Sargent, an ambitious 22-year old Laser sailor, who is hoping to one day represent his country at the Olympics.
“This season I have set myself both ambitious yet achievable goals of attempting to win my first ever world championship and qualifying for the Open Australian Sailing Squad,” – states Will announcing his sponsorship campaign for this year.
Those who participated in the Worlds 2022 in Ireland will remember the new anniversary edition boat winning the opening race of the championship – that was Will and his team. For the first-time participants in the Worlds they did very well with six top-10 finishes and another bullet in R7. They finished 7th overall and claimed the 2023 Youth champions title.
If you look at the regattas that followed the 2022 Worlds Will’s success looks phenomenal – in December they crowned the SB20 Australian National Championship with 9 wins out of 10. In February 2023 Team Ares topped the SB20 Tasmanian State championship winning 3 races out of 4 per day.
For this year’s SB20 Worlds the team setup has been reinforced with another Laser sailor – Paige Caldecoat, who has moved back to Australia after some busy years in Europe. Together with Eirini Marios and Ed Reid, who have also crewed for Will in Ireland, they are setting the plank high. In preparation for their ambition goals Will has commented:
“We will be training in Tasmania as a team as long as we can. I will be going over to the Hague about a month in advance [before the Worlds] to start setting up the boat and looking at the venue. The team’s end goal is to become the first Australian team to win the SB20 World Championships.”
As a wrap-up we’ve had a small chat with Scott Glanville, SB20 Class president who is racing in the Tasmanian fleet with his two brothers. Scott has revealed the plans of the Australian team to bid for another World Championship in the coming years and shared what it’s like to run the Class away from the European continent. More in the video below:
Check this link to gallery for more images from SB20 Australia
Text, video and photos © Anna Zyk, unless stated otherwise