Russians take an early lead
Ninety SB20s took to the race course this morning to compete in the sixth edition of the SB20 World Championship, sponsored in 2013 by Audi. The event is organised by COYCH in Hyères, France. With winds building to over 30 knots, just one of the three scheduled races was completed before the fleet returned ashore.
The race committee recalled the class twice before getting the first race underway in winds of approximately 22 knots. As the fleet headed to the windward mark for the first time, the wind pressure increased to 27 knots.
Rodion Luka (UKR) and his crew of Igor Matvvienko, Anna Stepanova and Andre Klochko representing Kiev Racing Yacht Club started to the right of the centre line committee boat with good boat speed. Craig Burlton was to windward of Luka, who headed to the right hand side of the course as soon as he could. By the first windward mark rounding, Luka had established his position as race leader rounding the windward mark ahead of Mel Collins (IRL). By the second windward mark rounding, Luka had extended his lead to almost twice the length of the spreader leg in consistent 30 knot wind.
On returning ashore after racing, it was put to Luka that he had “smashed it” in the first race. With a wink in his eye and a grin on his face he said, “Yeah, it was nice!”
They clearly benefited from starting well but they also picked the right lay lines upwind and down wind. “When you have a lead in the first leg and you can lead downwind, it is easy to stay ahead. As for my crew, they make it easy for me!”
Today was a great start for Luka’s own world title campaign and he showed his quality from the ‘b’ of the bang of the start gun.
Disaster fell on Mel and brother Killian Collins’ after maintaining their second place around both windward mark rounding’s. “We needed to gybe for the layline on the final downwind leg, the kite twisted and when it filled again in a huge gust, it bought the rig down,” explained Killian. They returned ashore to rig a new mast to be ready for racing on Tuesday. Sébastien Col (FRA) was in sixth place before losing his rudder and finishing place in the first race of the championships. “It’s a disappointing start to the event, but we are enjoying the SB20 class, the racing is fun and fast. There are some very fast sailors, especially for the UK,” said Col as he headed off to the Marçon Yachting spares service to collect a new rudder blade.
With winds building to over 30 knots, just one of the three scheduled races was completed before the fleet returned ashore. Jerry Hill (GBR) described the conditions as some of the heaviest he has ever sailed in the class, “It produced some amazing down wind conditions. It was a brilliant race, but the Race Committee was right to can racing in these conditions.”
Back ashore by 1pm and many will take advantage of the short days activity and enjoy in long lunches in true French style. This evening, the SB20 fleet will be hosted by wine bar, ‘X-Voiles’ where they will enjoy local wines and great company before heading to bed to rest up for day two of the Audi SB20 World Championships, when more wind if forecast.