45 boats for UON SB20 World Championship
Buoyed by their success at the recent SB20 European Championship, Team Russia, helmed by Rodion Luka, will join international compatriots including current SB20 World Champion Geoff Carveth (UK) for the class’ next World Championship at Hamilton Island, December 12-20.
The 2012 UON SB20 World Championship will pit up to 45 SB20 crews against each other with Australia, which boasts the fourth largest SB20 fleet in the world, expected to field half the entry list.
Thanks to a generous shipping subsidy from the Queensland government, an impressive overseas contingent of the one design 20-footers will be on the start line when PRO Denis Thompson fires up the opening sequence on Friday, 14 December.
December 12 and 13 have been set aside for registration and training followed by three race days, a layday on Monday 17 and the final deciding three days to determine who will reign over the SB20 class for the following year.
The majority of the international teams will travel from Europe and in particular the UK, where the class originated and the current powerhouses reside. The UAE, Singapore and New Caledonia are also nominating teams.
Two-time world champion, Geoff Carveth, is aiming to defend his 2011 title and tick off a hat trick. Carveth’s form is ominous given he won the Dutch Open Championships just prior to the late September European Championships in the Netherlands, where he placed third from 43 starters.
British countryman and 2010 SB20 world champion, Jerry Hill, will compete at Hamilton Island with his regular crew of Australian Grant Rollerson plus Tasmanian Tim Burnell, a UK resident and a regular on Mike Slade’s maxi Leopard 3.
Former Volvo Ocean Race winner and double 18ft skiff world champion, Robert Greenhalgh (UK), will make his second appearance at the SB20 world championships.
Of the local competition Greenhalgh says "any home sailor has an advantage". He’s unfamiliar with much of the local talent, but suspects the Europeans may be faster.
"It will be interesting to see which Australians are on the pace, Glenn [Bourke] will be a good competitor," Greenhalgh warns of Hamilton Island’s CEO, a multi-world championship winning sailor and Olympian.
Team Russia owner and mainsheet hand, Oleg Zherebtsov, believes Australian sailors will be very competitive and strong. "Last year in Torbay we saw Glenn. For sure there will be many more from all classes as this is their home event and they will fight."
On his first visit down under Zherebtsov adds: "I have never been to Australia. I have read some articles about this country, but never had a chance to visit this place. All I heard about is that they have very good people, great living standards, and lots of animals."
Pavel Savchenko will lead a second Russian crew, which will include Olympic 470 and Yngling sailor, Anna Basalkina.
"Since my last visit in Australia I always dreamed of getting to the Great Barrier Reef," Basalkina enthused. "What I know is Hamilton Island is one of the most beautiful places on earth."
Used to sailing in bleak, freezing conditions, the tropical Whitsunday Islands in December will be paradise for the Russian contingent. Balmy 30°C days, moderate easterlies and a likely afternoon shower to cool things down will be vastly different to the below freezing temperatures they will be missing back home.