The inaugural SB20 Middle East Championship, hosted by the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club from December 1st to 3rd, has left the local sailing community buzzing with excitement. Nils Razmilovic, skipper of team Glasgow Kiss, emerged victorious in three days of nail-biting competition under the radiant Dubai sun.
Navigating the whims of light and shifty winds, the sailors encountered challenging conditions that kept them on their toes. The wind, fluctuating between 6-8 knots on day one and a slightly brisker 8-10 knots on day two, made for a dynamic racecourse. The reshaped Dubai coastline altered current flows, introducing a strategic element to the races. In the words of Race Director Alan Ruigrok, “With 30-degree shifts and tricky currents, there was no room for error. Tactics and fleet management were key to maintaining a lead.”
On the organisation side Race Officer Nick Fisk and Race Director Alan Ruigrok demonstrated their prowess, orchestrating three races per day despite occasional general recalls and Black Flag starts. The Club’s innovative autonomous marks played a crucial role in maintaining a well-set course, ensuring fair competition.
Alan provided insights into the local wind conditions, advising future participants, “We typically get a thermal breeze every day that tends to oscillate a lot. Sailors thinking to come for the next events, we see really nice conditions with stronger winds in February, 10 – 14 knots most days.”
The final day brought more breeze with 12-14 knots, intensifying the competition. Four boats felt the pressure on the start line, earning themselves Black Flags. The close racing fleet served as valuable preparation for the upcoming SB20 Asia Pacific event and the 2024 SB20 Worlds Championships.
Despite the tight schedule between the wind building up, setting the course and the sunset, the efficient Race team managed to squeeze in three 50-60 minute races each day. The 32-strong fleet showcased their skills, with quick finishes aiding the rapid turnaround.
Glasgow Kiss secured their victory with remarkable consistency, scoring three 4th finishes on day one and three 2nd finishes on day two, totalling 24 points overall after one discard. ActiTIME, skippered by Arsen Chubarkov, fought fiercely, finishing just one point behind Glasgow Kiss at 25 points, as little as half a boat length decided the winner! Little Mischief, led by Damien Rizzi, claimed the third spot on the podium with 29 points and four bullet finishes.
Individual race winners, including Supersonic, Superbella, and team Kidzink, added to the thrill of the championship. The presence of four Youth teams on the water, closely competing and improving with each race, highlighted the growing enthusiasm among young sailors. First Youth team was DDF Youth team 1 (Peanut Butter) skippered by Leonie Bonaparte, only a few places ahead of Friends of Dubai College skippered by William Lambert.
The increasing number of female sailors in Dubai fleet is evident. The Women on Water (WOW) initiative shone through with an easy win for team Speedi Habibi skippered by Rachel Blackburn as the only team eligible for the Women’s Trophy (50% female crew and female helm). Team Kidzink, led by Charlotte Borghesi, secured the top spot among female-driven teams finishing 6th overall.
Michal Pajak, SB20 UAE Class president, expressed his enthusiasm, declaring, “That it was the best event we ever hosted in Dubai! We had a record number of over 30 boats from five nations on the water. With the new autonomous marks the quality of racing was simply amazing.” He eagerly anticipated the international SB20 sailors at the upcoming events of the SB20 Worlds 2024.
Alan Ruigrok, DOSC Race Manager, echoed the sentiment, saying, “It has been a fantastic weekend of sailing & sportsmanship. The competitors demonstrated incredible talent and determination on the water.” He extended gratitude to the race team, volunteers, and the title sponsor – Dubai Duty Free for their support, looking forward to the next major events – the Dubai Duty Frexe SB20 Asia Pacific Championships and the 2024 Dubai Duty Free SB20 World Championships.
Watch the final video:
Top five teams:
1. Glasgow Kiss: Nils Razmilovic, David Salembier, Mark Lees (SGP)
2. ActiTIME: Arsen Chubarkov, Artem Sudakov, Andrei Akimenko, Stefania Elfutina (UAE)
3. Little Mischief: Damien Rizzi, Artem Basalkin, Marina Rizzi/Annett Al Hamadi (UAE)
4. Supersonic: Michal Pajak, Gaetan Herve, Dan Kilsby (UAE)
5. Superbella: Adoardo Matinelli, Andrea Rachelli, Metteo de Luca (UAE)