Xcellent of John Pollard triumphs in thrilling pre-Worlds Event in Dubai

The inaugural Dubai Duty Free SB20 Asia Pacific Championships recently concluded at the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC), setting the stage for the highly anticipated 2024 SB20 World Championship. 38 boats that had registered for this event included 7 Youth teams. Action took place just off Jumeirah Beach, this regatta has showcased exceptional talent and intense competition.

Opening Day: Snakes and Ladders on the Arabian Seas

The first day witnessed 18-22 knots of challenging winds, creating a thrilling spectacle for sailors and spectators alike. Team Kidzink (UAE), skippered by Charlotte Borghesi, secured two impressive bullets in the initial races, with Team Xcellent (GBR), helmed by John Pollard, claiming the third race. Roger Wilson, the Principal Race Officer, described the races as “extremely competitive” with teams engaged in a “snakes and ladders phenomenon.”

Following the races, an electric opening ceremony unfolded, with participants and supporters celebrating at the Tentola Racing Village, courtesy of Dubai Duty Free.

Day Two: Xcellent Emerges as Contender

Day 2 presented turbulent winds ranging from 18 to 20 knots, testing the skills of the sailors. Team Xcellent dominated, securing a 3-3-1 finishes, pushing them into the lead overall. Desert Eagle 2 and Kidzink closely followed, setting the stage for a fierce final day.

John Pollard, skipper of Xcellent, expressed his delight at the challenging conditions, stating, “It was a great day. I’ve sailed all over the world, and here at the SB20 Asia Pacific Championships, It was as good as anywhere.”

Final Day: Xcellent Seals the Deal

On the last day, under perfect sailing conditions of 16-18 knots, Xcellent maintained their stronghold, securing another bullet in the opening race on the day. The pre-Worlds event concluded with Xcellent clinching victory, showcasing exceptional teamwork with Henry Wetherell and Drew Barnes.

John Pollard commented on the flawless sailing conditions, stating, “It was a perfect day of sailing! Absolutely beautiful conditions: shifts, good sailing – what more can you want coming to Dubai!”

Desert Eagle 2 claimed second place, led by Hendrik Witzmann (GER) sailing with Henrique Anjos (POR), both coming from the Dragon class and now sailing in Dubai and the Olympic sailor George Leonchuk (UKR) who doesn’t need an introduction in the SB20 Class.

Team Kidzink has secured the third place and victory in the Women’s Category, helmed by Charlotte Borghesi with Olympic gold medallist Pippa Kenton-Page and Artem Basalkin & Gonçalo Lopes – winners of the 2022 SB20 World Championships onboard AP Hotels & Resorts.

Beyond the Podium: Notable Performances

While the top three teams battled fiercely, other contenders left their mark on the event. Michael Buchanan on Renta Car, representing Singapore, secured fourth place, sailing with Tasmanian sailing stars Darren Jones and Sam Tiedemann.

Nils Razmilovic and his crew aboard Glasgow Kiss, the winners of the SB20 Middle East Championships 2023, displayed their preparations for the strong battle ahead, finishing 7th overall with two 2nd and one 3rd-place finishes. The team, consisting of Nik Burfoot and David Salembier, is poised for a fierce competition for the upcoming World’s title.

Ed Russo, usually sailing with Gilles Favennec, led Skin in the Game to an 8th overall finish. Russo formed a different team, sailing with Xavier Rohart, a Star World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist, along with Thibaut Demai, a young French 420 and match racing sailor.

Dutch entry – Team Kesbeke, celebrated for their generous herring tasting in Scheveningen last June, delivered a stellar performance, securing victory in the Corinthian category. Ronald Veraar, Pim Mommersteeg, and Eelco Blok finished 9th overall.

Strong UAE Presence and International Challengers

A notable presence of strong UAE teams emerged within the top 15, with three more international teams anticipated to cause trouble at the Worlds. Porco Rosso, led by Paul McCartney (AUS), brought additional Tasmanian talent on board with David Chapman and Edward Snowball.

Notable youth team with 2023 SB20 World Champion Will Sargent, sailing with Victor and Ugo Mosanya representing Saudi Arabia, displayed prowess as the top youth team, setting the stage for their performance at the World Championships.

DOSC Race Manager Alan Ruigrok commented on the escalating level of competition, saying, “The level is super high at the moment; we have a lot of professional teams and really good sailors. We can also see our own DOSC fleet improving, and the level has increased dramatically in the last couple of months with all our efforts that we had put in.”

Previewing the SB20 World Championships 2024

As the Dubai Duty Free SB20 Asia Pacific Championships wrapped up, attention now turns to the SB20 World Championships that will run from February 12th to 16th. With top performers like Xcellent, Desert Eagle 2, Kidzink, and several notable contenders, the competition promises to be intense.

Ramesh Cidambi, COO of Dubai Duty Free, expressed excitement for the upcoming Worlds, noting, “It was a great event and a great preparation for the Worlds. Looking forward to seeing what happens in less than a week’s time!”

As we eagerly await the Class’ pinnacle event, the 2024 SB20 World Championships, the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club has proven itself as a dynamic and challenging venue, setting the stage for a thrilling showdown among the world’s best sailors.

Dubai Duty Free SB20 Asia Pacific Championships 2024 – Full results

Link to event gallery

Watch the final video of this fantastic event