Brisbane Winter Championship

Heidelberg, Dada or something else?

2 April 2015 Author: John Curnow
Local heroes, Gen XY, with some of their winning form

 Local heroes, Gen XY, with some of their winning formPhotographer: John Curnow

It was only a short while ago that we saw how the Brisbane Etchells Fleet had taken renaissance out of the art galleries and onto Moreton Bay. The resurgence was completed during the course of last year. First they won the right to hold the 2018 Etchells World Championship. Then in October they held their State titles on the very course that will be used for the anticipated 90 craft that will descend on them in a few years.

So just what comes after Renaissance? Modernism and even Pop Art come to mind, but something more Australian would be terrific. The Heidelberg School is too old. Dada fits by being funky and had Barry Humphries as the leading Australian exponent, but hailing from the 20th Century also dates it a lot.

Therefore it is definitely time to go with something unique to honour the Brisbane Etchells' new era. It needs to embody bright colours, sparkles of light, warmth, and a certain something, which also sums up the terrific characters inside the fleet. It also has to be pragmatic, make a statement of its own and pay great homage to the souls that created, instilled and then implemented the terrific Esprit de Corps that is this fleet of Etchells. It seems it just 'Is', so that's what we'll go with.

Now over the last six months we have seen that the Brisbane Fleet very much love their racing. John Warlow and the crew of Land Rat have epitomised that, taking their new boat to Adelaide, Sydney and Geelong in the last three months alone and smiled at each and every opportunity to race amongst the country's finest. Now with all of that in mind, the Brisbane Fleet have developed a programme to both keep their needs sated and provide more than enough carrots for anyone else further South or West to enjoy a whole Winter of racing.

As an added bonus, the racing in Brisbane will all be conducted on the 2018 World Championship track, which is truly fantastic, for there are some tidal elements one would be well wise to come to terms with before that date with destiny arrives. Storage for your craft for the Winter is just $50 per week, and in typical welcoming fashion, the Fleet members will also move your boat around for you from Brisbane to associated regattas. Within reason, of course…

Returning to the helm once more as Brisbane Fleet Captain is the enigmatic, passionate and hardy, Noel Paterson (Elected International Governor). "The idea behind the Etchells Brisbane Winter Series is to offer three, two-day regattas throughout Winter. Each weekend will have a three plus three race profile, with trophies for each event and an overall trophy presentation after the last weekend. They are roughly four weeks apart, are also budget conscious and tie in well with other events being staged in South East Queensland during the six month period", said Paterson.

"Importantly, all the races in Brisbane will be on the 2018 World Championship course area and raced up to championship wind strength conditions. We want to offer all comers the best possible experience in preparation for that impending regatta. The season of racing starts at the beginning of May with our Brisbane Fleet Championship. The continuity of the regattas each month is important and this series will lead in directly to the Etchells Queensland State Championship on the Gold Coast a month after we're done. All in all, it effectively gives us a regatta every month from May to October. Anyone who loves his or her racing is invited to come and try our version of Winter fun. You can race in any part of, or indeed all of our series."

So then to the all-important dates, with the ones in bold forming the Brisbane Etchells Winter Championship:

  • May 2 and 3 May – Brisbane Fleet Championship of six races over two days with a presentation afterwards.
  • 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.
  • 5 and 6 September - Six race regatta over two days with an overall championship presentation afterwards.
  • 3 to 5 October – Queensland State Championship – Gold Coast.

None of this leave-your-boat-and-fly-in stuff is strange to at least one person. Gordon Weise does just that and then also stays on his powerboat, also moored at the idyllic Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly.

As Weise says, "I think this is the best location for one design sailing in Australia. Also, the organisation, camaraderie, willingness to share knowledge and general culture of the Brisbane Fleet is superior to that of any other that I have experienced. The depth and diversity of the fleet means that there is close racing to be had, whether you are at the front, in the middle or at the tail of the fleet."

"I think that in the last two years we have lost less than five days sailing due to adverse weather. RQ's facilities, with the dedicated hardstand and associated equipment means that launching and retrieving is much easier and less time consuming than it is elsewhere", said an enthusiastic Weise.

The last word goes to Paterson, who said, "RQ has one of the best race management teams, world-class facilities, safety services and the Brisbane Fleet receives strong support from the host club. Bring your boat, leave it with us to look after, go work at home and then come to magnificent Manly to play on our great racetrack once a month for five months – What a plan!!!"

Still not enough inducement? Well you won't get steak knives as a bonus buy, but you will certainly need the ones they'll supply you with for one of the famous David and Sue Healey BBQs that is bound to occur during it all. Just look out for that flag flying from the Etchells hardstand at the lovely Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. You can even book in to stay at the on-site Marina Cove Motel, but the word is to do that early if it sounds like you. So if you have not already experienced the world-renowned Brisbane hospitality, these brilliantly conceived regattas are the best ever reason to travel and experience it for yourself. To check out the newest art school, 'Is', and also all things Etchells, please visit

Part of the magnificent grounds of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron

 Part of the magnificent grounds of the Royal Queensland Yacht SquadronPhotographer: John Curnow

Gordon Weise during the 2014 Queensland State Championships

 Gordon Weise during the 2014 Queensland State ChampionshipsPhotographer: John Curnow

Fantastic and close racing is a certainty with the Brisbane Etchells

 Fantastic and close racing is a certainty with the Brisbane EtchellsPhotographer: John Curnow

All the facilities are ready to go – you just need to show up...

 All the facilities are ready to go – you just need to show up...Photographer: John Curnow

David Healey on the tiller of his, Rapscallion. He and wife Sue lay on the most awesome BBQ

 David Healey on the tiller of his, Rapscallion. He and wife Sue lay on the most awesome BBQPhotographer: John Curnow