NSW State Championship
8 February 2015
The 2015 Etchells NSW State Championship has been won in quite emphatic style by, The Hole Way. Cameron Miles, David Sampson and Grant Crowle collected wins in both races of this final day of racing to firstly leap into the top spot, and then cement their overall triumph. So it is in memoriam to Cameron and Grant's late friend, Michael Hole, who lost his battle with cancer, that the whole crew would like to dedicate this very hard fought championship. So indeed, cheers to both Michael and his family.
Cameron Miles spoke afterwards, "Thanks Michael for the divine intervention and good breezes. Really happy - David and Grant sailed really well today. Great job! We just wanted to start near Gen XY (overnight leader) and stay in contact with them. The focus was on getting away from the line under power, but more importantly, cleanly and conservatively. Not getting Black Flagged was also a big priority."
"It is wonderful not be second on count back, such as at the recent Australian Championship, and to be the outright winner, with points up our sleeve. We do feel like we earned this one, after knocking on the door a lot of late. We knew we could do it and have done it before, but it has been a while since we have felt this particular joy", said the former World Champion.
"We might not have sailed as much together of late, and our preparations were not all together that flash, but we were determined firstly in Adelaide (AUS Championship) and then here on Sydney Harbour to really lift, and here we are. It is also a special victory, for these have not been our preferred type of conditions. Heavier winds and coastal seaways are more our thing, but we have probably done better as a team here than we have done for a while, especially today. We communicated well and did not have to say too much."
"We kept an eye on Gen XY and always made sure we were between them and the mark without worrying too much about our place. Towards the end, however, we were really trying to win! Yandoo XX was very much coming at us, so that was another element to consider, too. You have to watch all the local sailors, as it is not an easy place to sail, particularly on weekends with all the different types of traffic. The traffic management on board The Hole Way today was excellent. We saw all the boats, stayed on the correct side of the ferries, and then you were getting called for rights on Starboard by an Optimist."
"Hong Kong would be wonderful and likely to be our sort of conditions. If not, Mooloolaba will be the go. All of it is a lead up to Brighton (Melbourne) for the 2016 Australian Championship, however, a championship that you could say after recent times, does leave us with a burning hole!"
Waiting. Waiting. Then let's get cracking!
Sun was the most obvious change to the morning weather in Sydney this Sunday. It was still, very still actually, but the hope of a Nor'easter arriving was evident. Perhaps this is why many crews took off early to get out to Point Piper, whilst other more prudent ones opted for a tow. The 1100hrs preparatory signals were replaced by the AP, and although there was still that glimmer of breeze, it did remain elusive and as the minutes crept into an hour plus, it even wandered off all together.
Hold the phone, however, for at 1222hrs, the glassy lumps of wake running everywhere from powered craft had taken on a new aspect. It was one of multifaceted angles akin to an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. Yes. Summer sea breeze. The Race Committee had established a line and we were to go racing. That all meant the warning signal for Race Seven would be at 1240hrs. An axis of 030° was prescribed, with Course #1 to be utilised and out to a range of 1.2nm off Clifton Gardens. Three legs with a work to the finish was the task.
After the waiting, a clean stacking up of the fleet all the way along the line was not exactly expected, but it is what occurred, even if a few were to miss out in the game of musical chairs, as it were. Lisa was one to show pace off the line and another was Odyssey with Jill Connell, Wade Morgan and Craig Monk on board.
On the work up to the top, Lisa, Magpie and The Hole Way were in favourable positions in that right hand pocket, but Ciao and Gen XY were also doing well in a more central slot on the track. Shindig was not wanting to be too close to Shark Island, and given that the windward mark was much closer to the Northern side of the Harbour, at some point they had to get over there. The bulk of the fleet was there or in a lot of cases, right in on the shore. If the breeze was just six knots at the bottom it was now fuller and more like a real 10.
At the top it would be The Hole Way, Land Rat, Iris III, Magpie and then Gen XY. Most of the fleet of opted for either the gybe set or a gybe immediately after set and head off to the Southern side, with just six craft going back in to the North. On the run down, the leaders, which were Lisa and Magpie, both gybed to take them in to the Western gate at the bottom. This would set them up to go a long the Northern side, but a course change announced at the bottom meant 040° was the new heading for the reciprocal and the finish. That would take the line a little more into the middle of the Harbour.
Rounding after those first two were boats like, The Hole Way, Iris III, Gen XY and Land Rat. However, the most distinct feature was that the Eastern gate was favoured and the sweeping majority would head out towards Shark Island. The Northern side of the Harbour seemed to hold sway with the fleet and so many peeled back off from the right to climb into the centre of the track in the solid 11kn breeze. Lisa was one to be convinced of staying right, but thus far it had not cost them, with the other leaders way over the other side almost lost in the trees.
In a close finish, The Hole Way took it from Magpie and then Lisa, with Gen XY next. Shindig, Animal House and then Top 40 were the top finishers. The implication of it all was that now there was a new regatta leader, with the three points leapfrogging The Hole Way into a one-point advantage.
All right. You can have another then.
Yes another race was on offer and as we already know, another win was in the wind for The Hole Way, but first everyone had to get back down the course and it was probably a good time for lots of crews to have a much needed debrief. Now it was on that run down to Point Piper that we were to come across the fleet of Optimists sailing back from their own mark in the middle of the Harbour. Those little tackers get the biggest praise and nothing fazed them, so the cajones award goes to them all.
Rohan Kerr, Samantha McLaren, Hugo Kerr and Greg Evans sail, The Biz. Now the link to the previous paragraph is that The Biz has the youngest crewmember by at least seven years, and he is not even yet a teenager. Speaking with Rohan afterwards, "Yes that regatta was certainly the biz! There was tough competition out there, awesome fun, a lot of great sailors and it was just nice to be out on Sydney Harbour. Also great to have variation in the conditions, which is what you come to expect with sailing."
"Then you add in liners, ferries, tourist vessels, large cruisers, Optimists, Mirrors, Moths and 18 Footers, which adds to the flavour. These Etchells are wonderful boats. There are others out there, many I have sailed in the past, but I find the competition in the Etchells to be second to none. You cannot get better. Regattas like these add another level to the overall experience of the class. The Etchells are technical, but being true One Design means it does not matter if you're a senior in the class or junior, like my son Hugo, we are all out there to enjoy ourselves, and that always happens."
"There are plenty of heroes in the fleet, and I think Hugo (11 years) did admire the Optimists, but the foiling Moths have very much caught his attention and that's what he wants to do. I would like to see some more kids in the Etchells fleet, not only because it has high calibre sailors, but also as the competition is so good, and that is something they all need to learn about. You can have a younger soul on board in a four-person crew. He retrieves the spinnaker and is super-alert to all the traffic around, so his eyes out of the boat are wonderful to have and he tells me if we have issues mounting with other craft."
Rohan has been sailing for 37 years now and in the Etchells for about three and a half of them. "I used to sail Moths back in the low-rider days, and now Hugo wants to get himself up on foils, so we'll see how he goes with a few steps on the way to getting his own Mach 2. The speed seems to have him hooked. Hopefully we won't loose a good crewmember in the process of his own development."
So cheers to young Hugo and all the other junior sailors out there.
Back to Etchells racing and just before the start of the final sequence at 1400hrs the Committee announced Course #1 again, on an axis of 045° this time and on a range of 1.6nm, which would be the longest of the regatta! It was all looking good with less than minute to go and then they all powered up quickly and shot over, causing the famous two hoots after the starting signal and it was a General Recall. No surprises then that the Black Flag was once again announced, either.
That meant that 1408hrs would be the new warning signal. Itchy in the middle was the boldest, with Dot at the boat end of the line also testing the waters, as such. What appeared clear was indeed opaque for one, and that was the very unfortunate, Magpie. Last year's champion was well and truly having the forgettable regatta and the message was both clear and quick after the start, time to go home...
On the way up for the first time, it was virtually an even split between those banking on some better water near Shark Island where the Mirrors were and those looking for any sort of lift of the headlands over on the Northern shores, whilst dealing with more chop. With the bearing at 045, the top mark was almost in Watsons Bay, as a solid sort of 13knots came straight down the Harbour.
The Hole Way would take us in, and then it was Foolhardy, Iris III, Dot, Lisa, Top 40, Adolescence, Yandoo XX and Odyssey. And it was one noisy mark as the perpetual request for room was denied. It was intense. Heading back down, the separation of the fleet was marked by one blue spinnaker leading those coming down the Northern side and then another blue kite performing the very same task over on the other side. The red sails of the Mirrors and then all the white sails of every other craft out that was out there completed the picture perfect scenario.
The Hole Way held the lead and never gave it up. Dot was next and then Foolhardy. Yandoo XX chose the Western gate, with Lisa, Fifteen+ and Iris III completing the top order. The Northern side was favoured, with just a few opting for the Southern trajectory. The Hole Way secured a tight win over a fast finishing Yandoo XX, then Dot, Foolhardy, Lisa, Fifteen+ and Iris III.
Rob Ridley was the PRO for the series. At the conclusion he said, "We are very pleased to get the full series of races in for everybody. It was also good to see 38 starters and even 36 in last race means no one was put off by delayed start time and a huge weekend of racing. Today probably put up the two best races of the regatta and they used the whole harbour with minimal tidal influence. Wonderful stuff to witness and enjoy. Thanks to the club and all the volunteers who made it possible. What a class the Etchells are and they are also a very friendly and welcoming crowd."
The charming Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Kirribilli hosted the 2015 Etchells NSW State Championship. Now there is always more fun to be had with the Etchells. Next is the West Australian State Championship, followed by Victoria's turn. After that it is off to Mooloolaba in Queensland and then wonderful and hospitable Hong Kong for the 2015 World Championship. You can begin your Etchells journey at etchells.org.au/states-nsw/.