The interest that the SB20 Malta Association has generated amongst the local sailing community has been massive.
In the very own words of the recently elected Class President, Catherine Halpin, the SB20 Association is fast becoming an important part of the Maltese sailing community, offering sailors somewhere to go to when coming through the Optimist and Laser Classes.
For those not in the know, the SB20 is a one design boat – meaning that the only varying factor is the weight of the crew and their abilities. Secondly, it only needs three crew members and thirdly, due to the weight and length of the boat, it is very easy to transport into the water. Whilst some people might argue that sailing is an expensive sport, the SB20 Class is slowly redefining this perception. Currently, a number of crews have been teaming up and purchasing a boat between them.
The SB20 Class, until September, had the full local eight boat complement regularly taking part in racing weekends. The unfortunate demise of John Hudson, saw four boats not being used. However this situation should change in the coming weeks and the Association is looking forward to the current eight boat fleet being back on the water.
Robert Ciantar, Class Secretary and RMYC Vice Commodore, emphasizes the importance of the inclusivity the Class offers. Events are open to everyone interested in sailing – irrespective of their sailing capabilities and ages – in fact the Class has welcomed sailors as young as thirteen years of age and complete beginners taking part in their events. With racing taking place in various locations around the island – in conjunction with various sailing clubs, ensures that the SB experience becomes more widespread. Curiosity has also been stirred amongst foreign sailors – particularly those working on superyachts that visit Malta and who look forward to some sailing. This is a perfect way of integrating the sailing community and extending the SB20 network.
“We are very competitive when out on the water, but we are having loads of fun! Sailors not in the SB20 Community are seeing this, and this will make the sport grow” – Catherine Halpin
Class President Catherine Halpin enthused about Malta’s potential as a fantastic sailing destination– surrounded by water and great sailing conditions. The current community might be small when compared to others – such as Ireland which sees around sixty SB20s on the water. Yet Malta is still at inception stage so there is definitely a positive future for the Class to look forward to.
Nurturing the Young
The Royal Malta Yacht Club Sailing School efforts to nurture the passion of sailing at a young age seem to be rubbing off well on the young crews who regularly take lessons at the school – whilst most of them training on Bugs, Optimist and Laser Class boats due to their young age, one can still see them eye the SB20s longingly with an an element of desire to eventually graduate to larger boats. Considering the close relationship the Class has with the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the wholehearted support the Club has given the Class, there is a strong belief that eventually these kids might move on to the SB20s.
“As the Class works on its growth, its ultimate aspiration is to have sailors representing Malta on an international level – now as the Class is gaining more local recognition, this certainly seems to be an attainable target” – Robert Ciantar.
SB20 Malta Association Committee (L) to (R) – Robert Ciantar -Secretary, Robert Ciantar -Secretary , Emma Cassar – Member, Catherine Halpin – President, Adrian Gauci Borda – Member , Brian Flahive – Member
For further information visit the SB20 Malta Association page on Facebook.
This article was published in the Winter 2020 Edition of Spinnaker Magazine