Export Roo new SB20 Australian champion
Michael Cooper, skipper of Export Roo, and his team of David Chapman and Sam Tiedemann sailed into the history books on Sunday in winning their first Australian SB20 championship title on Hobart’s River Derwent.
The regatta was sailed over three days from the Derwent Sailing Squadron in Hobart, ending in a strong and gusty nor’wester.
It was a classy performance from the talented crew which had a series score of 19 points from eight races, with two races sailed on the final day, and capped off a four-year preparation for the win.
“It was a tough regatta – I take my hat off to my crew – they did an amazing job and carried me along for the three days,” said Cooper.
Cooper’s experience and consistency was a key on the water, especially during the final race of the final day where the team managed to keep everything together during gusts of close to 35 knots which decimated the fleet.
“We were doing 20 knots downwind, but I think some guys were higher than that,” said Cooper, a longtime member and director of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
“We got to a point where it was probably better to drop some sails and be a bit conservative … so we nursed ourselves across the line while Nick [Rogers] fell over at the last minute,” said Cooper.
It was a tough day for Brett Cooper (Aeolus), getting into trouble with the spinnaker at the top mark of the last race, which dragged under the boat until Darren ‘Twirler’ Jones jumped into the water to cut it free, with the team finishing in 13th place in the last race of the regatta.
The women’s division of the championship was won by Felicity Allison, Bridget Hutton, Jill Abel and Mel Ford (Cook Your Own Dinner), which was an incredible result considering the crew retired from the final race with gear breakage.
“We are actually really shocked to win because we had a very unfortunate last race with a broken outhaul inside our boom which meant we had to retire after that race, but we are feeling pretty good, it was quite an achievement,” said Allison, who is Commodore of Sandy Bay Sailing Club.
The Youth Division was taken out by Will Sargent, Ben Reid, Ethan Galbraith and Issi DeClerk (Tas Racing Team) on 60 points, with Sargent helming an SB20 for the first time in the regatta, It was a tough gig for the youth crews on the last day. “We struggled today in the breeze; the more experienced guys had what it took, we found ourselves out the back a bit, but we are very happy to win the youth division,” said Sargent.
The SB20 fleet in Hobart is one of the largest in one location in the world, and Michael Cooper has his sights set on supporting the development of the class through encouraging young crews to sail them.
“It was great to see the young crews doing so well during the regatta and so nice to see the girls today – they laid over for half a leg but they kept going – we are all so proud of them,” said Cooper.
Cooper is still hunting an SB20 World Championship and expects to head to Hyeres (France) in 2019 and to Cascais (Portugal) for the Worlds in 2020.
Race winners on the final day were Honeybadger (Paul Burnell) and Porco Rosso (Elliott Noye) while other race winners over the weekend were Brainwave (Scott Brain), Export Roo (Michael Cooper) two wins, Karabos (Nick Rogers) two wins, and Aeolus (Brett Cooper).
Words and images – Jane Austin
2 December 2018