Graeme Taylor and his team of Richie Allanson and James Mayo sailing AUS1486 Magpie from the Mornington Yacht Club have taken the International Etchells Class Gold Coast Championship, sailed 27-28 May from the Southport Yacht Club, with two race wins on the final day of racing.
The first day of the 2023 International Etchells Class Gold Coast Championship was sailed Saturday 27 May from the Southport Yacht Club in what is the start of a large line up of regattas leading into two World Championships in Australia next year.
Mark Roberts’ AUS1473 Fumanchu2 with Ben Lamb and Jake Newman led after four races on a countback over AUS1478 Triad2020, with stand-in skipper Charlie Wyatt, and regular crew Lewis Brake and George Richardson, and just two-points behind was AUS1486 Magpie, skippered by Graeme Taylor, with Richie Allanson and James Mayo.
The first of the four races was set at 150 degrees with a leg length of 1.3 nautical miles with the breeze varying in strength, at an average of 11 knots with plenty of bump on the course.
The majority of the fleet was condensed at the boat end of the line at the start, and AUS1486 Magpie were the clear winners straight off the line. AUS1473 Fumanchu2 had a game plan to go right, so when they were flicked early off Magpie’s hip, they were able to execute their long term strategy, and led at the top mark, just over AUS1478 Triad2020.
Next to round was the team from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, AUS1482 Racer CC skippered by Mark Thornburrow and his team of Malcolm Page, Graham Ernst and Ethan Lozeuski, then AUS1486 Magpie, and Class President Martin Hill’s AUS1484 Lisa Rose with Julian Plante, Marcus Burke, and Alice Tarnawski.
AUS1473 Fumanchu2 were not headed for the race, and finished with a substantial lead. Next was AUS1486 Magpie, then AUS1484 Lisa Rose who both made gains on the downwind legs.
The second race got underway with the same setup as the first, however, the breeze strength and direction became much more variable as the sou’wester started to shift east during the second lap of the race.
Again the majority of the fleet started from the windward end of the line, and all were a bit shy off the mark. In an interesting turn of events, 1473 Fumanchu2 got the better start, and AUS1486 Magpie were forced to go right off the start line, a reverse of the first race.
AUS1486 Magpie went on to lead at the top over AUS1482 Racer CC, AUS1478 Triad2020, AUS1473 Fumanchu2 and Grant Hudson’s AUS1278 Pegasus with Brian Donovan, Sasha Ryan, and David Smith in fifth.
AUS1486 Magpie led start to finish, AUS1478 Triad2020 slid up to second on the first downwind and held their position, AUS1482 Racer CC were third, AUS1278 Pegasus fourth, and AUS1484 Lisa Rose were fifth.
“There were tricky conditions out there today. We felt like it played out reasonably as what was forecast from the south-west to the south-east, so when it was in the south-west it would be a right-hand-track, and when it shifted south-east a left-hand-track, but it was difficult playing the transition and we didn’t do that well in race number two”, said Ben Lamb, the bow of AUS1473 Fumanchu2 who finished seventh in the second race following their win in Race 1.
With the shift to the south-east in play for the third race, unsurprisingly there was also a shift to the pin as favoured end for the fleet. The course was set at 150 degrees, with a 1.3 nautical mile beat, and a drop in pressure to an average of six knots.
AUS1473 Fumanchu2 won the pin, and led around the top mark over AUS1478 Triad2020, and AUS1472 Racer CC.
The top three remained intact for the duration of the race, with David Dunn’s AUS1483 Great White Hunter with Daryl Roos and Sandy Higgins finishing fourth, and AUS1486 Magpie in fifth.
For the fourth and final race the Race Committee tightened up the race course to 0.8 nautical miles, reflective of the easing breeze.
Six boats tacked immediately on the gun given the left-hand bias of the line.
AUS1473 Fumanchu2 was the first to do so at the pin end, and was the first to round the windward mark and continued on to do the same at the first gate.
At the second top mark, AUS1478 Triad2020 came out on top, and led into the finish. This was the first time a leading boat was passed for the day. The young team are second on a countback despite skipper John Bertrand not being well enough to attend the regatta.
“It was a nice day on the water, and we had close racing throughout all the races”, said Charlie Wyatt, who is skippering for the AUS1478 Triad2020 team.
“We are a new combination with just a few days of training before the regatta with JB not being able to join, but the guys did great to have me slot in as the new guy, and made my job really easy”.
“We might be in second place, but who knows what will happen tomorrow, it could be anyone’s game”, Wyatt commented on the forecast ahead of the teams for the second day of racing.
Ben Lamb of AUS1473 Fumanchu2 was also wary about the forecast for the final day of racing.
“Race 1, we were the right-hand boat and won the race. In race 3 & 4, we were strong on the left, and won the pin both times. We were quite happy with the way we executed our strategy, but it was difficult, we were perhaps sailing a bit too ‘text bookish’, as opposed to aggressively sailing the wind. We needed to be backing what we were seeing, with a bit more seat of the pants sailing. This is a good lesson leading into tomorrow where we will see a light and shifty Norwester and will basically need to throw the textbook out the window”.
“But, overall we are pretty happy. We haven’t sailed together since the Victorian States, and it felt like we picked up where we left off. It feels really good on board, but it was interesting sailing in a big swell for the first time in a while. I had trouble seeing breeze, and marks, but I think everyone was having those issues”.
“The world's next year will be a big deal so it’s all about time in the boat right now. There is not a lot we will take out of tuning, because it was just too bumpy, today’s lessons are all about the communications, and our pre-race strategy. We will trust the gut more tomorrow” Lamb said.
“It was just a lovely day on the Gold Coast but light and tricky to go sailing”, said Taylor of the final day of racing.
“Before we left the dock we had a simple two-point plan for the day. Point 1 to win the first race and Point 2 to win the second race”.
After a lengthy delay, the fourth race of the series got away in a breeze slightly east of north at 30 degrees, with a 1 nautical mile beat. The first start, showing the anticipation of the sailors, was a general recall, before the fleet got away on their second start cleanly.
Around the top, Mark Roberts’ AUS1473 Fumanchu2 with Ben Lamb and Jake Newman followed by Grant Hudson’s AUS1278 Pegasus with Brian Donovan, Sasha Ryan, and David Smith and the Western Australian team, AUS1433 Forte skippered by Mark Crier, with Anderson Fetherus and Robbie Gibbs.
“Race 1 we had a fairly average start and got ourselves boxed in down at the pin. We struggled to get clear up the first beat, and went around the top in sixth or seventh. We were quick downwind and closed the gap nicely to the leader and rounded the bottom in 3rd” Taylor remarked.
AUS1473 Fumanchu2 were the first to round, followed by Pegasus AUS1278 and then AUS1486 Magpie and AUS1433 Forte.
“We were first to tack on port, the long leg, and got to second but the top. Final run was very tricky but we were lucky enough to slide past for the win”, Taylor explained.
The win for AUS1486 Magpie over AUS1473 Fumanchu2, who started the day on top, brought the scoreboard within one point for the top two, as the sailors anxiously awaited to see if there would be a sixth and final race.
After two general recalls the fleet got away on a U Flag, though it wasn’t without disqualifications for AUS1482 Racer CC, and AUS1478 Traid2020 taking them both out of contention for the overall win.
At the top it was AUS1278 Pegasus followed by AUS1433 Forte, AUS1483, and AUS1486 Magpie.
“We tacked early out of the start and headed to the right with Mark to leeward”, described the skipper of AUS1486 Magpie.
“We managed to get in front of Mark [Roberts, skipper of Fumanchu2] about half-way up the beat but lost a few boats in the right. We rounded in fourth and were fast downwind again closing on the leaders”.
“We rounded the bottom in third and were first onto port to lead the port tack again”.
The final race was shortened to finish at the top of the course, and AUS1486 Magpie finished strongly to take their second win of the day and the Championship.
“We were lucky enough to take the lead on the second beat and hold on for our second win of the day,” said Graeme Taylor commenting on the final race win.
“The event on the Gold Coast was fantastic. It was really well run and it is such a great place to go yacht racing. I had never raced here before but I will make a point of coming back”.
“It's fantastic to be back in the Etchells with James and Richie, they are both a delight to sail with. We have a busy program ahead and will be working hard to focus on attempting to win the worlds in Perth next year” finished Taylor.
Speaking of the Worlds in Western Australia, another standout performance for the final day was from Mark Crier and AUS1433 Forte to take second in the final race, with a sixth in the first of the day. A fitting finish for the boat from Fremantle who are on the east coast to train and promote the Etchells World Championship next March.
Mark Roberts and his team on AUS1473 Fumanchu2 took out the Masters division as well as the overall runners-up.
“A great last day by GT [Graeme Taylor], Jimmy [Mayo] and Richie [Allanson] in really tricky conditions to get the chocolates. Well done men. My huge thanks to Ben Lamb and Jake Newman for getting Fumanchu2 around a bloody difficult track and being just great blokes to sail with. In such a quality fleet a second is very cool. Thanks also to the Gold Coast Fleet and SYC for turning on a fantastic event and being such exceptional hosts. What a fantastic place to sail”, complimented Roberts.
AUS1483 Great White Hunter skippered by David Dunn with Daryl Roos and Sandy Higgins took out the Grand Masters division, and Jan Muysken’s AUS1450 African Queen with Andrew Heenan and George Johnstone won the Corinthian Division.
In addition to the amazing organisation from the Southport Yacht Club, the regatta couldn’t have been held without the support of sponsors HillPDA, North Sails, Bosun’s Locker, Harken, Whale Spars and PM Sails.