Russians hold but young guns close the gap



Rodion Luka and Team Russia hold onto their overall lead – c Hamilton Island Photography



Day 3 – UON SB20 World Championships at Hamilton Island Yacht Club


At the half way point at the UON SB20 World Championships at Hamilton Island, the Russian team spearheaded by Oleg Zherebtsov and his helm Rodion Luka is still leading the international fleet of 42 sportsboats.

In a first-class display of tactics and crew work, sailing wunderkind Ben Saxton and his Great Britain team closed the gap on the clubhouse leader with a bullet in Sunday’s only race. Saxton’s Bango powered by SLAM is now seven points off the leading Team Russia.

Australia’s Glenn Bourke and his Club Marine crew have held onto third overall but lost their grip on the countback that had them on equal points with Saxton at the close of racing yesterday. This will only motivate the cool multiple world champion racing with bow number 07, which has some island staff referring to their boss as ‘007’.

“There were a couple of opportunities we didn’t grab with both hands but in the light airs we are not unhappy with our sixth today,” said Bourke, the CEO of Hamilton Island.


Britian’s Ben Saxton closes the gap with another bullet – c Hamilton Island Photography


Ian Brown’s One Design Sailing has moved into fifth overall. Dual Olympic gold medallist Malcolm Page, who is on the mainsheet, said “Conditions today were fickle. When you got it wrong you paid big. There’s a lot to play for, and a lot to lose.

“We are happy to be where we are, it’s a bit better than I expected. We are just sailing our own races.”

Ian Brown is also happy with their current standing on the results sheet. “We are working hard at maintaining our place” he said this afternoon. Between now and the end of the series Brown is hoping to find some time to tweak the rig. Tomorrow’s layday could be opportune except “A few are playing golf tomorrow and they need a silly buggy driver…that might be me” the skipper conceded.

Today’s big mover was Russia’s Anna Basalkina and her in-form SB20 crew on Aquaholics. The Olympic 470 and Yngling sailor picked up a third place today to be sixth overall.

“It’s quite difficult in the light winds, we took a good start today and kept our left side and that was the right way. Downwind we were fast, I am happy,” the pleased skipper said. “I will try to come in the top three, that’s the golden place”.

On the steamy conditions Basalkina commented, “It’s hot compared to other countries and cities where I’ve sailed, it’s hard to keep concentration going”. While the locals are swimming in the warm Whitsunday waters, the reputation of some of Australia’s sea creatures has so far kept the Russian crew in the boat and unwilling to take a gamble on a refreshing dip.

Also breathing down the necks of the top tier is the Italian team of Stenghele, led by Pietro Negri and eighth overall, and UK entries, Geoff Carveth’s WDK, fourth overall, Jerry Hill’s, seventh overall, and Robert Greenhalgh’s The Beard, ninth overall.


Glenn Bourke uses all his experience to cling on to third overall – c Hamilton Island Photography


The race committee signalled a postponement before today’s one and only race. Patience paid off and it wasn’t long before a 5-6 knot ENE breeze came to answer competitors’ prayers, cooling baking bodies and setting things in motion for what ended up being a consistent fifth race of the 12 race series.

The light ENE winds ran out of puff just as the backmarkers cruised through the finish line under spinnaker. Cloud cover threw a blanket over the race course and with no sign of anything promising on the horizon the race committee lifted anchors and all boats headed back to Hamilton Island marina where crews are now enjoying an early mark.

Monday is the one and only layday for the SB20 sportsboat fleet contesting their world title. Racing will resume on Tuesday and conclude on Thursday, December 20.


Top 10 after Day 3: (five races)


1 RUS 3703 Team Russia – Rodion Luka 6 4 1 3 2 16 pts
2 GBR 3065 Bango powered by SLAM – Ben Saxton 1 1 9 11 1 23 pts
3 AUS 3030 Club Marine – Glenn Bourke 3 10 4 5 6 28 pts
4 GBR 3053 WKD – Geoff Carveth 17 5 2 1 10 35 pts
5 AUS 3382 One Design Sailing – Ian Brown 8 15 3 4 5 35 pts
6 RUS 3140 Aquaholics – Anna Basalkina 12 7 14 6 3 42 pts
7 GBR 3037 – Jerry Hill 2 16 17 2 8 45 pts
8 GBR 3060 The Beard  – Robert Greenhalgh 4 8 15 9 9 45 pts
9 FRA 3580 Hyeres 2013  – Rouxel Thomas 13 6 10 8 11 48 pts
10 ITA 3637 Stenghele  – Pietro Negri 5 2 8 15 22.0A 52 pts


For full results see:


By Katie Ashworth, SB20 Class Association