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Fast boats and rules

14 February 2017 Phil Smidmore

Denis Heywood

"Denis Heywood"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

It’s been great to have some new boats to build, and their race results have been impressive. Ray Smith came over from Perth, took delivery of his new boat the day before the NSW States, and produced a race heat win, whilst Chris Hampton sailing his new boat, won the overall title.

Of the 11 races at the NSW States and the Nationals, six were won by new Pacesetter boats, but I think it was also good for the class that both series had a mix of old, new and in-between in their top 10s. And let’s not forget the ever-green John Bertrand’s World Championship win at the Cowes Worlds all be it in a UK boat, but using one of my masts.

While the wind did not come to the party for the Nationals, a very good fleet of 45 boats did. The first three boats overall were a mix of old and new. World Champion, Triad 2, at only 6 months old is by far the newest and is very comprehensively and beautifully equipped. Iain Murray’s, Northern Havoc, is a 1998 Pacesetter, and was given a very comprehensive re-fit late last year, including a new deck and mast.

The successful defending champion, Magpie, is a 1993 Bashford boat, which has had several refits over its life, with items such as mast lever and electric pump recently added. Yet in stark contrast to many boats, it retains a very simple Ronstan pin stop jib car system. All three boats set North Sails on one of my masts.

At both the NSW States and the Nationals it disappointed me to see many boats with non-complying items. While many of these could be considered minor breaches, we are sailing ONE design, and all rules need to be complied with to ensure the integrity of the Class. Very noticeable was the number of undersize main and jib halyards. Six millimetre (minimum) rope is the class rule.

I also noted boats with pole tracks too short, mast gates too long (usually due to the vang wearing a slot), and oversize holes in bulkheads. Repainting and/or repairs often result in the (mandatory) hull measurement marks being obliterated. While I did not measure them, I saw several spreaders that swung a long way forward: too far I would have to suggest.

The one windy day at the Nationals found some manual bilge pumps ‘wanting’. Many boats have now installed an electric bilge pump, but Class Rules (and also many local rules) still require a manual bilge pump that is in good working order!

Blistering on the bottom of the keel has been a problem for years, which is why I proposed a change to Class Rules to permit the use of vinylester resin for the keel coating. This proposal was passed by the membership vote in December, so we will in the future build our new boats using it. While it may not cure the problem, it should at least reduce it.

Our long serving measurer Denis Heywood hung up his ruler at the end of 2016. Wearing both my Governor and builder’s hats, once again I thank him for his years of dedicated service to the Etchells.

Good Sailing,
Phil Smidmore.


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