NSW State Championship

Is The Squadron to be Sydney's third casino site?

22 December 2014 Author: John Curnow
Etchells, Etchells, Etchells - calling all Etchells. Competition on the way...

 Etchells, Etchells, Etchells - calling all Etchells. Competition on the way...Photographer: RSYS

Now it could simply be that episode of Rake or possibly something way more definitive that sparked the imagination with that headline. Who knows? But with all the stars coming out to be part of the Sydney Etchells season, you could perhaps wonder whether these stars will indeed eclipse the other casinos. Not that it would be some cheap tourism attraction on a converted old dock. No. No. No. This would be a truly salubrious, James Bond, Casino de Monte-Carlo type of affair! After all, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron enjoys a commanding view from its idyllic location in Kirribilli.

The Sydney Etchells Fleet has already been busy and achieving terrific starting numbers and close competition for the races held thus far. Of the 30 who make an appearance, the bright stars include some of the best-known Etchells sailors in the world. Tom King, Michael Coxon, Doug McGain, Graeme Taylor, Steve (Mothy) Jarvin, Peter (Billy) Merrington, Cameron Miles, Grant Simmer, Iain Murray, Jeanne-Claude Strong and Nev Whitty, and a cameo from the legendary Colin Beashel. Alas, he showed all he still has it, by posting a win for that race.

Former Etchells World Champion, Tom King, is conducting a series of free coaching seminars for the Fleet leading into a stellar summer of racing. Michael 'Cocko' Coxon is also providing dockside and on-water free coaching, no doubt stemming from his terrific efforts to pass on the 'tips from the top' for super light conditions at the 2014 NSW Etchells State Championships at Gosford.

The Sydney Fleet has also deployed on-water 'Rules Observers' for Mini-Regattas. The observers identify a perceived infringement by sounding a horn. It is up to competitors to choose if they will make a penalty turn, uphold a protest or ignore it, as it is entirely self–policing. Interestingly, the benefit is two-fold. Penalty turns are being accepted more often, but overall, rules infringements have decreased.

So it is in this spirit of high, but incredibly fair competition that the Sydney Fleet will hold two of the season's most important regattas, irrespective that they are for Etchells, given the talent that will be on display.

The first is the 2015 Etchells Milson Silver Goblets, which will be conducted from January 27 to 31. It is a series of twilight races on each of the four weekday evenings, with the final three races to be conducted on the Saturday afternoon. It is a 'wet' regatta, where the boats stay in the water for the entire week. The Sydney Fleet has even arranged for a diver to clean each boat on both the Wednesday and Friday of the regatta. There is the one drop on offer after five races of the series, so a bad day won't rule you out of contention.

Over 30 Etchells are expected to finish their day's work with a blast down the harbour. Etchells stalwart, former International Chairman and 2011 recipient of a Yachting Australia Lifetime Achievement award, the delightful Ian Kingsford Smith will be the Race Officer for the regatta. He commented, "I was talking with club legend, Dick Small, just the other day. He said to me at the time that he was actually holding a Goblet from 1983, which had been won by Yarranabbe (KA160). She was crewed by Bill Mobbs, Dick Small and Ian Graham."

"It was around that time or just slightly earlier that 'Mobbsie and Smallie' resurrected The Silver Goblets, which had been laying idle in Squadron archives. They thought it would be a good concept to have them used for a twilight regatta and today it is an even stronger event, but still kicks off at about 1800hrs. An image from those early days was used on RSYS wine for a long time and the Milson part of the name comes from club great, James Milson Jnr (one of the foundation members of the Squadron)."

"This regatta will be terrific and a wonderful way to prepare for the States, to which we expect about 50 vessels to appear. After racing, the fun on the deck back at the Squadron should be as good as the racing, but with nowhere near the level of competition, naturally", said Kingsford Smith.

Indeed the 2015 Etchells NSW State Championship will be a gala affair commensurate with a casino party. To be held from 5 to 8 February 2015, the regatta will be based solely on the majestic Sydney Harbour. It too is a wet regatta, but this time with hull scrubs allowed and after five races in a series of eight, one drop will be applicable. The Squadron's Sailing Manager, Chris Stone, is part of Race Committee. He commented, "Rob Ridley will be the RO for this championship, with Ian his deputy. We are looking forward to seeing everyone for both of these wonderful events. We expect to see entrants from Victoria and Queensland, with maybe someone from further afield too. Getting past 30 for the Goblets and to the magic '50' number for the States will be wonderful. My office is here to help, should you need anything. So if you're into Etchells, it looks like you will certainly have to be a part of one or both of these terrific events. We have limited accommodation for those craft from Interstate, so please call me as soon as you can."

The first boat is already booked in for the States. It is perennial competitor Don Wilson with his crew of Chris Radford and Graeme Murray aboard, The Don. Wilson said, "Do enjoy the Etchells and the all the regattas - such terrific sailing and atmosphere. The Harbour is always a great a venue and of course, you always learn something when you're out sailing. Sorted out all the aspects for entries to the Australian Championship in Adelaide and seemed like keep a good thing rolling, so put in the entry for Sydney whilst we are at it. Chris and Graeme are also looking forward to it and this is our third season as a crew. They're wonderful guys and it is a pleasure to be out on the water with them."

Honestly, who does not like going to a casino? Even if you're not into gambling, there's just so much to see. Having said that, the recommendation from all is to take a punt and come to either or both of the Milson Goblets and the 2015 NSW State Championship. They're on from 27-31 January and 5-8 February, respectively. Awesome sailing will simply be the easiest item to spot. Camaraderie and good times will require you to be there and enjoying the conviviality and ambience of one of the best decks in the business.

The Squadron will keep the trot moorings in place, so visitors can keep their boats in the water between the regattas and there will be a cradle available on Thursday February 5, so that you can clean and polish your craft ready for the State Championship. There is space to rent at both the RSYS and the CYCA over at Rushcutters Bay, so make your enquiries of the Sydney Fleet now. You can begin your Etchells journey and gather all the necessary information on these regattas at

What a location the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron enjoys

 What a location the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron enjoysPhotographer: RSYS

Stars indeed – Grunter, Dougie and Mothy at the impromptu ‘Tricks of the Top Ten’ briefing at Gosford

 Stars indeed – Grunter, Dougie and Mothy at the impromptu ‘Tricks of the Top Ten’ briefing at GosfordPhotographer: John Curnow

Near Bottle and Glass Rocks, Nielsen Park in the 2010 Mini regatta

 Near Bottle and Glass Rocks, Nielsen Park in the 2010 Mini regattaPhotographer: Kylie Wilson -