WA State Championship
Not for lack of trying at the Etchells WA Championship
16 March 2014
On the first day, they worked hard and got five races completed. Bless them all for their endurance, perseverance, determination and sporting nature. As a result, the West Australia now has a new Etchells champion. For 2014, The Rat will be able to look at that whenever they choose and know they had pace and just as importantly, consistency. Given they are off to the World Championships in June, which will be staged off Newport, Rhode Island USA, it should augur well for them. Reason being, it is another patch of water that can offer the same sorts of challenging, light weather conditions.
Looking out and over the racing area on Melville Water, which is on the might Swan River, the Principal Race Officer, Kim Laurence, was positive. "As it is, we have a series, so I am delighted. The not so good news is that as we speak at 0700hrs, there is haze over the water and it would have to be less than two knots out there. I am hoping to get a short race in today, say 0.8nm, perhaps with a windward finish. Something in the order of 40-45 minutes elapsed time."
"The intention is to have a warning go at 0830hrs with the Etchells Class Flag being sent aloft. We do have to be off the course at around the noon mark and that is a factor I will be evaluating too", said Laurence.
As it was, they certainly did try to get the eager fleet off on time in a breeze that was moving through 140 to 180 degrees. Alas that keenness resulted in a General Recall, with the restart commencing under Code Flag U to keep them all honest. Unfortunately, that race was abandoned at 0915hrs. The word then arrived that there was 6 knots blowing from 270° up at Freshwater Bay. That was all the encouragement Laurence and the race management team required. "We were keen to give it another half hour as we really would like to get more racing in. Regrettably at 1130hrs, with a super light breeze wandering from 180 to 300 degrees we had to make the call and hoist N over A, thus cancelling any more fun. It was a really hard decision to make, but we'd had them out on the water since 0830hrs. Officials and crews alike are all somewhat disappointed", Laurence finished with.
To paint a more complete picture of yesterday's racing, the following are extracts from the PRO's log. Race One was set on axis of 110° and a range of 0.8nm in 3.5-4.5 knots. It was two laps and two boats were On Course Side (OCS) at the start and were scored accordingly. One would be the favoured Willy Packer, so not an auspicious start. It was a good race, with not so much action on the start line, but that was to come later in the day.
Race Two went off towards 175° at the same range, but it was still flukey in around 5knots of breeze by then. An all-clear start was recorded. Race Three was to 175° as well, but now out to 1nm in the 8-10 knots that was on offer. It was still flukey, with swings of up to 30° on offer and this concluded the morning's racing. At 1645 Race Four got away on an axis of 200° in a fresh 18knot breeze out on a range of 1nm. It was gusting up and down somewhat and there was one OCS, which was Tusk. A more anxious PRO got Race Five underway in diminishing light. A General Recall did nothing for his heart rate and they got away cleanly under Code Flag U at 1745hrs. With no Daylight Savings in Western Australia, you do not have extended evening periods to play with. Notably, several of the races had three to five minute separations between the first boat home and the last, which is just what you want in this type of racing and a true Etchells component of the mix.
In the Jury Room last night an OCS and disqualification of AUS 1382 were both upheld, with the latter being the result of Port/Starboard incident. Peter Chappell, Simon Sutherland, James Stout and Peter Nicholas would of course become very thankful for the drop, which allowed AUS 1382 to retain their second place overall.
As it is, three boats finished on 17 points and the count back allowed AUS 1382 to hold second place, with St John's Dance in third and Bandwagon relegated to fourth (Ben Durham, Skip Lissiman and Andy Feathers). AUS 1382 (Peter Chappell) would also secure the Masters Trophy for the series.
Off to the winners then, and eight points clear at the top is, The Rat, which is crewed by Grantham Kitto, Brad Moore, Tim Ward and Rachael Mullins. This exact combination is off to the World Championships in Newport this June. Speaking of how he talked about everyone but themselves before the regatta Grantham said, "Good to take pressure of yourself and put it on the others! A great regatta and we've been close before, but this series is where things fell into place. We do like the light stuff, as it is the thinking persons breeze. Boat speed has to be up there, no matter what conditions you face. You get more options if you have pace, simple as that. Previously we have been not so good in the light, so this is even more rewarding."
"We do have to work out why we were not so flash heading downwind in the fresh stuff. It is good to have things to work on. I've sailed with Willy Packer and admire him and Michael Manford, Dean McAullay and Nick Gray a lot. To be in there with them is simply awesome. What a super quality fleet that sailed in this year's event, as is demonstrated by Ray Smith having Alan Smith on board St John's Dance with he and Brett Shoebridge. Simply terrific stuff on lots of boats, right around the fleet."
"On the water, if you did not get a fast start then you were toast, even more so than the usual Etchells regatta. What a regatta and we enjoyed beautiful weather, so it's wonderful to live in the West. Overall, something like this is just good for Etchells. I have to say that Brad's been with Etchells for something like 20 years and he really deserves this one", said Kitto as he went off to chat with Ben Durham, Andy Flowers and his the crew, so no doubt the first shouts at the bar would have to be on him.
As mentioned, Ray Smith, Alan Smith (no relation) and Brett Shoebridge collected third place in the 2014 Etchells West Australian Championship. Ray Smith said, "Pretty happy, as this really was a hot fleet. I had set a top five result as my personal goal, so quite chuffed to be on the podium and it is a nice birthday present to help me celebrate today."
"Waiting around today offered mixed emotions. We were equal points with AUS 1382 and Bandwagon, so we would have had to work to hold on to third place. We never turn down a chance to race, but at least this way a podium finish was locked in. Our result really stems from yesterday afternoon, so we know what we have to do in the future. Alan called some good shifts and that kept us well in the game, and our boat is going fantastically thanks to he and Brett", said Smith.
A special guest, if you like to refer to him in that way, was Ronan Collins, the Secretary of the Hong Kong Fleet. "It's been good sailing here on the Swan. Much different to Hong Kong Harbour! Friday we had 25 knots blowing and yesterday we started in just 5's, so it has been a great challenge. A good fleet assembled for the regatta and hopefully more can be made of the synergies between Perth and Hong Kong with our similar time zone. A lot of the crews here have also expressed interest in the 2015 Etchells World Championship that we are hosting, so perhaps we can do a lot of practicing in the two locations, sharing equipment to make it even easier to achieve."
"It would also be really something to have a couple of Hong Kong crews come down and do next year's WA Championship. Overall it has been brilliant - a beautiful place with tremendous camaraderie amongst the fleet." Ronan sailed with Mark Crier on his creatively named, Chicken Soup.
The 2014 Etchells Western Australia Championship provided for close racing from some very hot competition. Well done to all the sailors and volunteers for making it so. See http://www.etchells.org.au for all the details of how you can be a part of the one design.