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SB20 Asia Pacific Championship © Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com
SB20 Asia Pacific Championship © Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com

SB20 Asia Pacific Championship

After last night’s curry in Little India, the wind wasn’t only coming from the SB20 sailors. The weather forecasts had held true overnight and the Singapore NE monsoon whipped itself up into a day of strong wind, sunshine and champagne sailing.

The fleet picked its way out to the starting area through the busy Port of Singapore marvelling at the massive container ships and oil tankers surrounding them. The tacticians were already noting the shifty conditions with 20 to 30-degree shifts as the NE monsoon swirls around Singapore and touches down on the race track.

This was to be another day of “Tactician’s Tinder”. Left shift – swipe left (too short), right shift – swipe left (down pressure), left shift – swipe right (onto the lay line). Today was going to be a trial to see who could concentrate the hardest on swiping the right way while keeping the boat on its feet.

Race One started cleanly in 10-14 knots of breeze. Although the pin end was heavily favoured a slack tide helped the fleet manage their time and distance to the line. The early leaders extended on starboard tack while those with less boat speed tacked early to the right. However, half way up the beat a shift to the right brought the slower boats back into the picture creating for some exhilarating crosses as the faster boats tried to find lanes to get back to the windier side of the track. Although it was hard work, Glasgow Kiss which had started at the pin end swiped right at the optimal time and, with the help of a left-hand shift, managed to sneak around the first mark in the lead.

Pocapena and Wallababy both had better sets and exposed Glasgow Kiss’ soft underbelly to outset the leaser and roll over the top with an early gybe. Big boat sailor, Sam Chan from HK had a fantastic first beat to round the top mark in 5th with Rolf Heemskirk (Malaysia) hot on his heels. On the second beat, Glasgow Kiss found a couple of extra shifts to re-take her lead and went on to win the race. Pocapena continued her string of good results to finish second with Tara rounding out the podium. Sam Chan continued on after a strong start to drop just one place finishing 6th behind the charging Rolf Heemskirk who seemed to have found some extra rig tension overnight and some extra speed to go along with it.

The excellent race committee wasted no time in sending off the second race of the day. However, the tide had built during the first race and fleet had to be called back. On the second start, Team Herson Racing from learning how the U-Flag works suffering maximum points finish after jumping the gun. This time the track was like a second Tinder Date. Everyone knew what to expect. – as with the first race, the track was right hand favoured with small left shifts at the top. Glasgow Kiss made full use of the replay in conditions and had an excellent beat. With a gybe offshore in pressure and planing conditions, they sailed away from the fleet and went on to finish the race with a commanding lead.

As the race wore on, the battle for the minor placings was tight. The breeze continued to shift and build piling on more pressure for the tacticians and the boats. The Singapore Poly (Bandit) was pushing hard and rounded the top mark in 3rd place being gamely chased by the following pack. With gusts routinely in the mid-20s, something had to give. And unfortunately, it was the rig on Singapore Poly’s Bandit that let go. In the gust of the day, Bandit swiped left and her rig slid gracefully over the front of the boat to disappear into the murky waters below leaving Singapore Poly without a finish as well as a difficult repair.

SB20 Asia Pacific Championship © Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com

SB20 Asia Pacific Championship © Howie Choo / www.howiephoto.com

By the end of race two, there was daylight between Glasgow Kiss in first followed by Le Petit Admiral on Wallababy in second and Pocapena making it 4 podiums in a row to finish third. The English Invaders on Tara had a strong 4th place followed by Rolf Heemskirk (Malaysia) banging in a second 5th finish in a row. The SMU Alumini made their presence felt with a solid sixth and Dutchess (Steven Kennedy) had a great 7th. 6th SMU Alumni. Dutchess finished 7th. Bandit (Singapore Poly) broke a rig on one of the second runs in plenty of breezes.

The ever-efficient race committee, with great sagacity, started Race 3 under the U-Flag. With only 1:30 left to start a huge right shift raked its way through the start line resulting in massive congestion at the boat. However, the U-Flag did its job keeping the fleet in check and the fleet got off to a clean start. It was clear from the start that something had happened on Tara. Not only nailing the start, Tara sailed away from the fleet upwind with the turbochargers on. As the jury boat zoomed over to check for any unlawful speed gaining advantages, it was immediately apparent what happened. The hand attached to the tiller belonged to the grinning face of Adrian Peach – there had been a driver change on the Tara. It produced immediate results and Tara led around the top mark. However, it wasn’t to be all Peaches (sic) and cream for Tara.

Mike Buchanan on Pocapena took the right-hand gate mark at the end of the run to wrestle the lead from Tara. The two boats then went at each other hammer and tongs up the second beat. Pocapean led around the top mark and gybed out into pressure. Tara swiped right and took a flyer along with the shore. In a miraculous turn of fortune for the coastline route, Tara found the extra pressure they were hunting for and by the finish line Tara and Pocapena were overlapped doing 17 knots of boat speed into the finish line. Finally, it was Tara that had the race win, by just half a length from Pocapena and snapping Glasgow Kiss’ 5 race winning streak.

In the fresh conditions, Nick Cocks showed some spirit to have a notable fourth place followed by Peter Botman from Perth on fifth. Wallababy limped into a sixth place finish and Rolf Heemskirk who had been stringing together a very competitive day shredded a spinnaker to finish 19th. Adrian Peach, after winning a race commented “There are no muppets out there. Anyone in the Top 10 can bang in a win if they manage to swipe right at the right time”.

With the racing over, the drama did not stop. The fleet swung around the finish line and headed for home. In one of the hallmarks of the regatta, the fleet had 22knots of a breeze to blast reach back to the island paradise of Sentosa. The speeds were high and champagne was everywhere. Unfortunately though, in their over excitement to reach the bar, calamity struck three of the boats. Sea U Later (Christian Fisher) dropped a rig; Le Petit Admiral (Wallababy broke a rudder) and Scum Bag broke a bow pole. This sadly brought the day’s total to two rigs, one rudder, one spinnaker and a bow pole putting a dampener on the day for some crews, but providing plenty to talk about at the Dockside Regatta Bar.

With the racing over and the drop coming into play, the early favourite, Glasgow Kiss is getting the job done on 5 points. Pocapena (Mike Buchanan), after a dreadful first race has had nothing but podium finishes since and sits in second on 12 points (but cannot afford another bad race). Wallababy (Agoston Sipos) sits fourth on 13 points but has some work overnight to repair a rudder. Tara (Adrian Peach/Paddy Bettesworth) are only two points back in fourth. The SMU Alumini (Colin Lim) round out the top 5 just ahead of NUS (Jonathan Yeo) after Rolf Heemskirk (Malaysia) dropped back to sixth.

The racing concludes tomorrow. For those crews that found the breeze a little too much today, the good news is that the breeze should abate by race time tomorrow. Tonight, the crews have a night of the organized festivities and an opportunity to use their free time (if they don’t have boat repairs) to sample the delights of cosmopolitan Singapore.

by SB20 Class

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