Team Ares – first ever Australians to win SB20 World Championships

The final day of the championship took a long time to start. Called for an earlier skippers briefing Friday morning the competitors discovered a deep fog covering the harbour. Wind was unstable and patchy, not giving much hope for racing.

After some waiting ashore a two-hour postponed flag was hoisted, until finally at 13:00 the fleet was sent to the water. A pressure front was passing the coast from Belgium and the chance was that it will allow to sail one race or pass by too quickly.

At the racecourse the wind was around 7-8 knots and Course Race Officer Dirk Sledsens (Royal North Sea Yacht Club in Ostend) had the mercy on sailors to not go into the Black flag start on the first attempt. After a start on Uniform and a general recall that followed the RC managed to quickly hoist the orange flag again and the final battle was on.

The tide was pushing the boats onto the starting line at about 3 knots of speed and two French Youth teams were leading the race. On the upwind marks France Youth of Ange Delerce was first and France Youth of Ian Garreta was third. Between them Another Affair was rounding in 2nd.

Just after the rounding at the top marks the numbers have been called on the radio announcing that both French Youth teams have had a BFD, but the two teams continued racing. Getting to the downwind marks was tricky and the teams found it hard to get the boats going.

On the 2nd upwind rounding the leaders got shuffled and this time between the French teams was Australian Porco Rosso in second. Without losing too much speed downwind they crossed the line after the two French teams which meant winning Race 12!

Supersonic had a good race – after the 4th position at the 1st upwind mark, the only top boat to gybe early, they got the 2nd finish in the race. Charles Whelan on Breaking Bod managed stay in the front in this difficult race finishing third and concluding the event with a smile.

Team Ares rounded around 6th place at the first upwind, then had an incident at the bottom with Another Affair who received a penalty. Next upwind they overtook slowed down Breaking Bod and Leviathan, both on the inside, and rounded in 5th. From then they had to keep the pace and make it to the finish line in top 5. Which they did and secured their win!

Many great Aussie sailors have taken the challenge to win the SB20 World Championships over the years. Glenn Bourke (several attempts), Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge (on the same boat in 2011), Michael Cooper, Chris Dare, David Chapman, Ian Brown and Malcolm Page – all of them got to 2nd and 3rd overall, but it took a young gun from Hobart to get it done in 2023.

Australians, however, have been part of the winning teams in the past: Steve “AB” White was with Craig Burton for all three wins (2008, 2009 and 2013). And Grant Rollerson was on Jerry Hill’s boat in 2011 and took the trophy home.

Portugal became the new Nation’s Cup holder as the best performing country. All four Portuguese teams finish the regatta in top 10 with Freedom of Martin Estlander in 4th (64 pts), AP Hotels of Jose Paulo Ramada in 6th (86 pts) and Solyd Sailing team of Vasco Serpa in 9th overall (116 pts).

At the award ceremony Will Sargent first and utmost thanked his team and called them “the best team in the world”. “It was a very close event and it came down to the last race. There was a bit of match racing and a couple of penalties, but managed to go come out with a win, so we’re really excited,” –he added.

Lots of grateful words have been said at the prize-giving ceremony to the sponsors, the volunteers, the organisers and the Club staff. They’ve all done a fantastic job always with a smile and helping each other. Special thanks to PRO Rob Hoogstra for a fantastic week of sailing! The hospitality of Scheveningen Yacht Club has been brilliant and the work of Race Committee exceeded all expectations. Racing in strong currents is never easy and the RC has delivered five days of racing in various tricky conditions.

Hein Ruyten, the SB20 Class dealer in the Netherlands, and Promotex, GTYachting and the crane company from Belgium Aertssen contributed greatly to the success of the championship. Fantastic prizes from Dubarry of Ireland, Secrid and Sailmon, fun happy hours and parties all made another SB20 Worlds an unforgettable event!

Overall results:

Top Female team –RSZV (Rotterdamse Studenten Zeil Vereniging) of Donna-Tinke Huijsmans, Arthur Nankman, Tigo Ledeboer and Emma Van Ginkel (NED)

Top Masters team – PBII Twenty of Mark Gillett, Paul Hine and Richard Anderton (GBR). Paul and the team are also taking the last year’s prize that had been waiting for them in Holland. It turned out that Dutch team 3J’s were not yet eligible for the Masters category in 2022.

Top Youth team – Ares of Will Sargent, Eddie Reid, Paige Caldecoat, Eirini Marios (AUS).

Best Corinthian – Another Affair of Tiago Morais, Miguel Oliveira and Francisco Oliveira (POR).

3rd place overall – Xcellent of John Pollard, Henry Wetherell and James Grummett (GBR)

2nd place overall – Another Affair of Tiago Morais, Miguel Oliveira and Francisco Oliveira (POR).

1st place overall – Ares of Will Sargent, Eddie Reid, Paige Caldecoat, Eirini Marios (AUS).

Photos from the prize-giving ceremony (© Laurens Morel)

Overall results: