Brisbane Winter Championship


6 May 2015 Author: John Curnow
19 vessels competed in the Brisbane Etchells Fleet Championship

 19 vessels competed in the Brisbane Etchells Fleet ChampionshipPhotographer: Dan Alcock

The State of Is must have cast its spell wonderfully. There was a small, but none the less powerful contingent of Southerners that arrived to contest the recent Etchells Brisbane Fleet Championships. Early birds had to sit out the torrential rain, yet it almost seems as if Hughie, the God of Wind, was also keen to see this high-end sailing take place. By way of stark and exceptionally vivid contrast, bright sun, mild conditions and soft breezes allowed for all six races to be conducted on Moreton Bay over the two days.

Essentially, the breeze on the first day was Nor'nor'east to North and 5-10 knots. Gen XY won the first two races. Some say the breeze may have been a bit squirrely, which is something John Warlow, with Mick Patrick and Will Thomson, on Land Rat is good at, but an OCS for them and also Fifteen+ was never going to help. For the second day it was more like fives for the first race, 10's for the second and 12's for the last, all out of the North, except for the last run, which turned out to be more like a reach as the breeze went West. Land Rat took the honours for that race.

Now ordinarily you might think that a whole bunch of forces appearing from far away lands was a threat. However, to the Class and its artisans, it was indeed all part of the plan for the Brisbane Fleet Championships and literally the proverbial proof in the pudding of the great sailing on offer and also the remarkable hospitality. Local outfit, Gen XY was the winner in the end, with three bullets (first places) against their name.

The reigning Queensland and mid-Winter champions seem to be ready to defend their crown at Mooloolaba in just a short while, so it won't be long before Matt Chew, Ash Deeks, Bill Cuneo and Brian Donovan get to settle that particular account. Can they win it again? If so, they will add to their mantel not only first crew to win it twice, which they already have, but then also they will become first to go back to back!

Chew commented, "Sure it adds to the pressure, but you can be certain that we will be trying. After a frustrating end to the Summer, we are back and seriously motivated. Team morale is high and we're even better pals than before. It is hard to hide and lots of people want us to do well, so we don't sort of think about. Managing the expectation is important and for us it is just about savouring the battle."

"Being part of the mix is always the important element. If you don't win, and once you're over it, you can even say losing is not too bad", said Chew reflecting on the ones that got away. "Simply try to dust yourself off quickly and get back to smiling - enjoy the time that is sailing. Our plan is to do the Hong Kong World Championships and then we will be in Melbourne for the Etchells Australian Championship. In amongst all that are a Sydney Hobart and the Moth nationals, too."

Second overall was the Victorian entry, Tango. Chris Hampton was sailing with Ian 'Barney' Walker and Ben Morrison-Jack. A model of consistency, they had two seconds, three thirds and that meant they could drop their worst, a fourth place. Nice work indeed. Hampton may be reserved and he's always thinking, but he did comment, "We were pretty much in the mix all the time. We are going to continue to work on our starts, which is an area we can gain from. Overall, Tango showed good speed around course and was very similar to Gen XY. Considering there was no time for tune ups beforehand, due to the weather, we are happy with the result overall and exceeded our expectations."

"Barney did well with picking the spots for us to be, so together with MJ, they read the shifts and placed us on the course correctly. It was all about learning the local conditions, especially with the 2018 World Championships coming up quickly. It was great yacht racing and we were delighted to be there. So well run… Next is Mooloolaba and then back to Brisbane for the first of the Boutique Boat Co Winter Championships. From there the boat heads off to Hong Kong for the 2015 Worlds and we'll sneak in the Etchells Invitational at Cowes in August before that, so busy times for us."

Odyssey very much continued their journey upward. Representing New South Wales, the delightful Jill Connell said afterwards, "This is the first time that Wade Morgan, Peter Merrington and I have sailed together again as a crew since the Queensland State Championships in October last year. We had a wonderful time and they are simply terrific people and sailors. I really enjoyed it all and learned a lot too!"

Connell added, "Some other important 'firsts' in a significant fleet event for us was our first race win (Race Four), first On Course Side under Code Flag U (Race Five) and then first time on the podium (Third Overall). As a result we are looking forward to Mooloolaba and then some more of the events here on Moreton Bay. There was a terrific level of competition to be had, with Gen XY, Bootross, Fifteen+, Waterloo Bay, Land Rat and Tango always around. The other really big highlight was the stupendous hospitality on offer. Thank you Brisbane Fleet!"

Class Stalwart, all-round great guy and Etchells Governor, David Healey, might have given up his Rapscallion for the regatta to Jimmy Chilman, Kevin Molen and Ian Miller, but he and wife Sue still managed to cook the world-famous Healey BBQ on the Saturday night. He purposely did not look at the racing, which is probably a good thing, for Rapscallion recorded a second place in the very first race. Commenting about it all, Healey said, "We certainly had some incredible weather and it almost seems surreal that we raced at all. Saturday and Sunday were a complete turnaround from Thursday and Friday. Everyone feasted greatly, both out on the water and ashore, where they knocked themselves out on steak, sausages, hamburgers and rissoles (and even salads)."

Brisbane Fleet Captain and Etchells Governor, Noel Paterson said, "It was terrific to have a mini-invasion and thank you to all of them for making the effort to be a part of our Fleet Championships. This was the best way to begin our Winter offering of great racing and to get a win ourselves in Race Three was more than a sensational added bonus. There are many, many people that ensure we can run these sorts of events and I thank them for their time, energy and enthusiasm. Everyone commented on just how infectious it was. See you again soon for more!"

Here then are the dates you need to factor in. The ones in bold form the Boutique Boat Co. Brisbane Etchells Winter Championship:

  • May 2 and 3 – Brisbane Fleet Championship has been conducted.
  • June 4 to 7 - Etchells Australasian Winter Championship – Mooloolaba.
  • June 27 and 28 - Six race regatta over two days with a minor presentation afterwards.
  • August 1 and 2 - Six race regatta over two days with a minor presentation afterwards.
  • September 5 and 6 - Six race regatta over two days with an overall championship presentation afterwards.
  • October 3 to 5 – Queensland State Championship – Gold Coast.

Further inducements to be a part of it all come in the form of warmth, sparkles and invigorating energy. You will certainly get all of that from the Brisbane Fleet themselves, and as this regatta has just proven, Hughie will also do his bit to ensure the same is on offer out on the racetrack. On-site accommodation is available at the Marina Cove Motel, but the word is to do that early if it sounds like you. You really do need to experience the world-renowned Brisbane hospitality and these brilliantly conceived regattas are the best ever reason to travel and take it all in for yourself.

Well done to the Brisbane Etchells afterguard, which consists of Noel Paterson, Jason Hawkins, Martin Sinclair, Mike Atkinson, John Warlow, David Healey and David Irvine. They well and truly proved that a terrific fleet with a great Esprit de Corps and wonderful ideas really can make a huge success of it all. Participants in this first leg of the extended Queensland Winter of Etchells sailing are very much looking forward to competing in all or parts of the remaining sections, which includes the Boutique Boat Co Brisbane Etchells Winter Championship. So to check out the newest art school, 'Is', and also all things Etchells, please visit

Tango powering down under spinnaker

 Tango powering down under spinnakerPhotographer: Dan Alcock

Noel Paterson, Scott Miller, Tim Robba and Sarah Board on Waterloo Bay

 Noel Paterson, Scott Miller, Tim Robba and Sarah Board on Waterloo BayPhotographer: Dan Alcock

Odyssey getting about the business of sailing quickly

 Odyssey getting about the business of sailing quicklyPhotographer: Dan Alcock

John Warlow, Mick Patrick and Will Thomson on Land Rat

 John Warlow, Mick Patrick and Will Thomson on Land RatPhotographer: Dan Alcock

Jill Connell, Wade Morgan and Peter Merrington on Odyssey

 Jill Connell, Wade Morgan and Peter Merrington on OdysseyPhotographer: Dan Alcock

Celebrations on board Gen XY

 Celebrations on board Gen XYPhotographer: Dan Alcock