Syd Corser Championship
The 21st Syd Corser Etchells Regatta
20 November 2014
Melville Water West on the Swan River Western Australia put on sparkling waters and tricky breezes for the 21st Syd Corser Etchells Regatta held 15 & 16 November by Royal Perth Yacht Club (RPYC) on behalf of the Swan River Etchells Fleet.
Syd Corser OBE AM needs no introduction to Etchells circles, being one of the first Western Australians to source not one but half a dozen Etchells and bring them to Perth in the mid 1990's. He had no trouble convincing other WA yachting luminaries to support the International One Design Class and take up Etchells Sailing, many of them moving from Solings which he said were not as easy to handle in WA afternoon seabreeze - or "Fremantle Doctor" as we affectionally coin it.
Etchells are now celebrating 30 years in Western Australia and we have much to thank both Syd and inaugural owner, Past Commodore of RPYC Chris Hardy for. Syd was awarded his OBE and AM for his Corporate life in the Housing Industry and Philanthropic efforts but in 1992 was awarded WA Citizen of the Year in the Sports category and in 2000 received an Australian Sports Medal for services to Sailing. He was three times National 14" Champion and won many Club, States and National titles in many classes over almost fifty years of competitive Sailing.
A red hot Fleet of 20 Etchells entered the Syd Corser Championships and it's fair to say the "usual suspects" were all eager to get their name back or on Syd's Trophy dating back to 1993. Favourites leading into the event were last year's winners Micheal Manford's The Croc AUS 1402, the ever consistent Mark and Grant Lovelady's Heart Starter AUS 827, Peter Chappell's AUS 1382 and Skip Lissiman's Bandwagon AUS 891 - all Club, State and/or National Etchells Champions.
Former Sydney Olympic Race Officer Martin Clark and his Start Team, ably assisted by Fleet Treasurer and RO Kim Laurence were charged with a seven race Regatta with the minimum being four races and a drop after six.
Session one Saturday morning saw three races held in a shifting E-N/E ranging from 2-8 kts - the typcial transition breeze before the Summer Sou-Wester hits. All races had clean starts and it was clear after the morning, The Croc with stand-in Skipper Brad Sheridan of Yachting Service's Australia was going to be dominant with a 1.0, 4.0 and 3.0 consecutively. The Race two win went to 1382 and in the final morning race (held in a dying breeze and shortened to a downwind finish) Peter Ahern owner of North Sails WA loft and the TP52 Oi! racing in Asia, snuck past Ray Smith's St John's Dance AUS 1374 on the finish line to take the win on his beloved No Jacket Required AUS 1030.
We broke for lunch and to allow Club Racing on the River and all Etchells adjurned back to Royal Perth Yacht Club as it was a Wet Regatta, a good iniaitive for the combined Royal Perth and Royal Freshwater Bay Fleet. We enjoyed great camraderie over some some dock side beers as we packed up and traded stories of the morning sessions. Afterwards, many dined in the Wardroom, some went home but most enjoyed some downtime in the shade on the lawn at RPYC.
Everyone sprung back into action around 15:30 as Session two was scheduled for 16:30 and the Seabreeze was in - Game On ! It was a busy racetrack with the three Club River Fleets racing around the cans and we waited patiently for the traffic to clear and courses to be set before starting shortly thereafter. The breeze was up around 15-18 kts, gusting 20's from the S/S-W and two races were held with dominant heavy air Sailing giving The Croc two wins from two and an almost unassailable lead after Day 1 (5 races, 10 points with no drop). Bandwagon and St John's Dance also showed their consistency, never out of the Top 4 for the afternoon.
There were tired bodies at RPYC for the early morning start on the final session Sunday at 08:30. The forecast was for an unusually reasonable Southerly and we saw parts thereof but it was very tricky for the Start Team to lay courses in breezes from every which way at around 2-5 kts. Eventually they got us away but it was a General Recall then the restart was held under UFD and Heart Starter and Swan River Fleet Captain Bruce Maloney's All Care No Responsibility AUS 1142 were both scrubbed for their "early" efforts ! St John's Dance chalked up their inuagural win of the Regatta after being very close on Saturday and we now had 6 races in and a drop came into play. The final race got underway around 10:00 in a struggling Southerly but it held in -just- to give 1382 another win.
We did the maths as the Fleet headed back to our respective Clubs to pack up their boats and re-adjurn to the America's Cup Room at RPYC for results. We knew that The Croc had held on for the win (15.0) but were closely followed by St John's Dance (18.0) and then Bandwagon (25.0) with Dirk van der Struyf's Chilly Bin AUS 1320 and 1382 rounding out the Top 5 on 27.0 and 29.0 respectively.
We were delighted to welcome Syd and his lovely wife Danae to present to the Winners and address us all. Syd gave a wonderful dissatation about Etchells Sailing and his continued support for and love of our great Fleet.
Congratulations to the winners - Brad Sheridan, Dean McAullay, Nick Gray/Jodi Earnshaw on The Croc AUS 1402; Ray Smith, Mike Hughes and Alan Smith on St John's Dance AUS 1374 and Skip Lissiman, Simon Cunningham, Jen Troy and Adele Jackson on Bandwagon AUS 891.
Thanks to Martin and his Race Team and all the Volunteers and to Hayden Swanston and Kate Wearne at Royal Perth Yacht Club - we all appreciate your efforts to make this wonderful regatta a great success.