Australasian Winter Championship


9 June 2017 Author: John Curnow
Etchells round the top mark as others run away under spinnaker

 Etchells round the top mark as others run away under spinnaker
© Alex McKinnon

It’s called the Sunshine Coast for a reason. Today it delivered in spades, with a gentle Sou’souwester of barely eight knots setting the day up a treat. It gradually built to first and 8-10 knot affair, then 10-12, and finally 12-15, before virtually running away completely. Thankfully, this was not before all three races of the day were done, and the crews were on their way back to shore at Mooloolaba.

Now the crews themselves, by and large, also played nicely. Usually, you can expect a General Recall or two, the appearance of the ‘U’ Code Flag maybe, and if it is a bad day, the dreaded Black! No such occurrences today, and so on behalf of the viewers and Race Management, thank you! Naturally there were some tough mark roundings, and plenty of penalty turns performed, so you would have to say classic, close Etchells racing was on display, which is what you expect from the country’s premier One Design class.

Kevin and Ross Wilson set a two lap course on an axis of 180 degrees and a range of 1.6 nautical miles That meant that anyone on land had a goo chance to see them from either the breakwater or atop the knoll and its attendant lighthouse. Equally, it meant they were also quite close to the beach, early on. A course change in that first race to 170 degrees was then subsequently added to for the remaining two races. They went left to 150 degrees, and the Sou’easterly direction meant the full fetch of the seaway was on offer.

Some went right early, but local sailors insist you have to really take it in to get the benefit. Some were there and as the racing wore on, many came to see what it was all about. It was close all day, with just metres in it at the first rounding, and no more than six minutes separating the fleet at the end, which was after just over an hour of hard work out on the track.

Taking out the first race were the reigning Australian Champions, Graeme Taylor, Steve Jarvin and James Mayo. They are a formidable outfit, and after also taking out the final race of the day, they came back to the clubhouse as overnight leaders. After the first race they were very circumspect, for it is often not a good omen to win the first race. They were certainly more open afterwards.

Taylor said, “It was a pretty nice day out there, and you don’t get much better here than that. Also really lovely to get three races in! We had a ball - a great fun time. Steve and James have done a heap of training, up to ten hard sessions, so well done to them. Training certainly pays off, for we were not struggling with the little crew mistakes, and just getting on with the job. All in all a very pleasing result. We’re not here for anything other than the top prize, which we know takes a lot of work to achieve. It is all in preparation for the upcoming World Championship at San Diego in September, let alone Brisbane next year.”

The second race was taken out by a rampaging Gen XY crew of Matt Chew, Ben Vercoe, Brian Donovan and Ash Deeks. Whilst not absent in the first race, they were not exactly where you would have expected them to be, so it was an emphatic display in the second race, when the white spinnakers came home before the red ones. Chew commented, “After taking some time out of the class, I forgot how brutal it can be, but then this why we race Etchells, because it is absolutely the best of the best. We raced well, and are so looking forward to tomorrow!”

You would think that meant Race Three was going to be all about the blue spinnakers, and for a moment that may have been possible, for they marched up into the foreground, but after the second run downwind, Magpie and Iron Lotus put red in charge once more. In Race Three it was also time to see some names of craft that had hitherto been a tad further back. Tusk, Encore, Fumanchu, Tango, the Cure, Whisper II, Ciao, Dangerzone, Athena, and Entourage are some that popped up for a mark rounding or indeed overall. What it means is that it will certainly be great watching once again tomorrow.

Kevin Wilson commented, “We are very happy that it is all going well, and thanks to our Race Management team for all their efforts. The ebbing tide could well have helped control them all a bit, especially the first two starts, except for the couple of individual recalls in RacerX and Iron Lotus. Tomorrow is slated for 1100hrs and we’ll aim to do another three, leaving one for Sunday, which should maximise the available conditions.”

If you want to keep right up to date with all the goings on, then please see The Mooloolaba Yacht Club and the Line 7 Etchells Australasian Championship thank all the many volunteers that allow an event like this happen so successfully, as well as Line 7, the Sunshine Coast Council, North Sails and the Newport Apartments for making it all possible.