Stormforce Coaching SB20 National Championships – Skipper Andy Oddie, and his crew of Gareth Edwards and Rob Greenhalgh, are the 2015 SB20 National Champions, after winning three of the six-race series at the Royal Southern YC in Hamble on ‘Underground Toys’.
The Stormforce Coaching UK National Championships were held from Saturday September 5th to Sunday sixth, 2015 in a mix of conditions that included overcast and shifty winds on the first day, and a building sea breeze with sunshine on day two. Unfortunately the Indian summer temperatures and sunshine on Monday seventh also brought zephyr-light conditions which led to racing being cancelled for the day, but six good races had been completed for the 25-boat nationals fleet.
Andy Oddie and team laid down an impressive challenge from the outset, winning the first three races in a row. Second place honours were shared by Class President Ed Russo on ‘Black Magic’, who was runner-up in the first and third races, and Pieter Heyn on ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’ in the second.
In Race four, ‘Black Magic’ took the win from ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’, while ‘Underground Toys’ slipped to eighth in the variable winds and highly tidal conditions. ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’ then finished strongly to take the next two race wins, but ‘Underground Toys’ posted two more solid results with a third and second to hold on to take the overall win by two points from ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’. Third overall went to ‘Black Magic’, while Adrian Peach, the UK Class Chairman on ‘Uber’, followed up his Cowes Grand Slam win with a strong fourth place.
For Andy Oddie and Gareth Edwards the National Championships were a chance to revisit unfinished business – the pair nearly won the UK Nationals back in 2010, only losing the title on the final race.
Tactician and trimmer Rob Greenhalgh is no stranger to the SB20 class either. Rob won the first ever National Championships back in 2002, crewing for Mike Budd, and has scored podium finishes at many UK Nationals and World Championships. This latest title adds to another successful season for the pro sailor, which included winning the European Championship in the foiling Moth class just a week previously, having spent much of the previous year circumnavigating the globe in the Volvo Ocean Race, as Watch Captain on ‘Mapfre’.
Preceding the Nationals, the Sportsboat World/Spinlock Sprint Series was held on Friday, September 4th, with six back-to-back quick-fire races held over a windward-leeward course. Joe Llewellyn with ‘Forelle Estates’ won two races and counted all top three places to win, two points ahead of Tom Clay’s ‘Whyaduck’ who also won two races. Pieter Heyn’s ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’ won the remaining two races to finish third overall.
There was a special prize, sponsored by Harken, awarded to the top Youth team at the Nationals, which went to ‘Striptease’, skippered by Rebecca Anthony. The Masters prize, sponsored by Hyde Sails, was awarded to Tich Summers and the ‘Chill Pill’ team. The fleet also welcomed some new faces, including two boats from Poole Harbour where a new fleet is gaining momentum.
For many teams the 2015 Nationals gave a taste of what to expect for the 2017 SB20 World Championships, which will be hosted by the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes with racing on the Solent.
Ed Russo, President of the UK World Council, commented: “The Nationals saw tough competition with leading competitors including the top British boat at this year’s Worlds (‘Forelle Estates’), and Rob Greenhalgh calling the shots on ‘Underground Toys’.
“The well known tidal flow puzzle of the Solent, coupled with particularly shifty northerly breezes, confirmed that sailing here requires crews to keep their heads! The 2017 Worlds, run by the RYS, will mark the SB20 class’s 15th anniversary and it is a perfect time to come back to the founding waters of the class for some enjoyable and challenging racing.