QLD State Championship
Hope springs eternal
3 October 2016
Honestly. It would seem so, for on Sunday morning there did not appear to be much chance that Brisbane would get nary a puff of wind. Yet the collective hopes of all the Etchells sailors competing in the 2016 Queensland State Championship were listened to. The sun had taken the land to at least 29°C and with it, the added heat brought the much-anticipated sea breeze to bear.
So it was only a short wait ashore under the Answering Pennant at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron before they headed out to begin the first of three races for the day from 1300hrs onwards. The night’s sleep and then the rest on land proved extremely dangerous for some. Fifteen+ certainly personified that with a first, seventh and second place on the day to go to the top of the scoreboard by three clear points. Almost ominously, David Clark said on behalf of the crew of Will Howard, Sasha Ryan and Mark Langford, “Our real objective is the Australian Championship (in January). This is our crew for that regatta, and as an added bonus, we’re competing as a Corinthian outfit.”
“We have some different gear that we are investigating and moving the rig around to compensate for that, so yes, we are building a new Bible here. Jud (Smith from the USA and former World Champion) has developed some new radial cut jibs for Doyle’s, so this necessitates some tweaks elsewhere on board.”
“As for the last race (#7) on Monday, it looks like there is some breeze about and so we’ll just have to cover everyone”, said Clark in closing with those cards ever so close to his chest, as usual. They certainly are a great crew to watch, as you see their plans unfold and the results flow from them.
Now in second place is Yandoo XX. A first and third for the day almost seem to polarize their fifteenth place in the first. Fortunately, after six race overall the drop has come in to play. The delightful Jeanne-Claude Strong said of it all, “We had a pretty good day. Nice conditions, which may have been a bit unexpected, yet it is always good to sail with palm trees around. Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned out on the track, but that is yachting. Equally, you never know what tomorrow brings”, Strong said by way of indicating their desire to finish on top at the end.
“Marcus Burke is always great. It has been wonderful to watch Ashleigh (Swadling) compete for the first time on a bigger craft. She’s finding it really interesting and learning a lot. For me, I just think it is amazing to see her getting such a buzz from it all. Seve (Jarvin) is filling for Nev (Wittey) and doing a great job. He really is very talented. Overall, I just have to say what a lovely group of people has gathered here. I should not be surprised given who makes up the home fleet and the terrific facilities they have. We are set for the 1000hrs gun tomorrow.”
Presently in third place are, The Usual Suspects, from New Zealand. However, it is the mass behind them that makes for interesting reading. There is less room at the pointy end, and with the last race, we have a real scramble to see who gets on the podium. Bootross (Mark Bradford, Gary Van Lunteren and Vaughan Prentice) along with Encore (Peter Conde, Brian Hillier and Myles Baron-Hay), as well as Fair Dinkum are all on 24 points, just two further astern of the third placed, The Usual Suspects.
Fair Dinkum had, “A tough day at the office”, according to Skipper, Grant Hudson. “Anything below a fifth place really hurts, and the scoreboard also shows how unpredictable the weather can be. Something always happens out there, but overall our speed is good.”
“In the second race we blew a jib car totally apart and into the drink it went. We spent the next 10 minutes with a knock on the other board whilst we jury-rigged something up to take its place. We have plenty to think about for the last race and also in the morning we need to get a better jib car system in place!”
“There was wind against tide, so it made it lumpy, which you had to drive through, so that meant keeping the power in the headsail. We would really like to try those fuller Doyle jibs! (Hint. Hint, Peter McNeill.)“Our new bowman is Tom Siganto (20-22years of age), who is an understudy to 49er legend, Nathan Outteridge. Tom won the 29er World Championship last year and is now getting used to Etchells. He really loves just how close it all is in this pure One Design Class.”
“Tom is joining Ben Vercoe, Klaus Lorenz and I for the upcoming Nationals and then all the way into the 2018 World Championship here in Brisbane. He actually marvelled at how we were in third place at the top mark in one race, but as we could not find a hole to go in and around, ended up in third last and had to claw our way back from there. The good thing about having Tom join in, is that we are still able to qualify for the Corinthian title as well.”
Now he’s always busy organising things, but still gets out to race, which is his primary passion. He is Noel Paterson, the Brisbane Fleet Captain, and he certainly relished the, “…nice sea breeze of say 12-15 knots. It was good to get it finally, and it did change Moreton Bay to a slightly choppy surface.”
“We have just one race to complete the series and it should be much fresher with the Westerly component returning. Having got six in so far it does take the pressure off and it was better to do them early. The travellers will probably be the happiest, as they’ll all be set to clear out as soon as presentation is done. We thank them all for coming up.”
“Also many thanks to the great RQYS Volunteers, who were today lead by Race Officer, John O’Brien. What a great job they did, including overcoming some major wind shifts. It has been a little difficult with the weather, as the sea breezes have not fully kicked in yet with the change of season. At least the World Championship will be held a tad later in the month. It has been warm on land, but cooler on the water.”
So hope has sprung more than eternal, and the happy sailors now need to convert it all out on Moreton Bay in the last race. Only one can win the trophy, but the Class is always the winner with this wide an age group and across the sexes all participating together. Should you be looking to have your own first test, or wish investigate all things Etchells, then start by going to etchells.org.au.