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Audi Etchells World Championship Winning Formula

18 March 2009 Tracey Johnstone

The team on Racer XY solved the Audi 2009 Worlds puzzle to convincingly win the championship

"The team on Racer XY solved the Audi 2009 Worlds puzzle to convincingly win the championship"

Photo by:
Andrea Francolini,

Piece together a puzzle made up of a well-prepared boat, excellent crew work, good weather forecasts, a fast boat and a top ten result in every race and you have a winning formula.

Two years in the making, the Australian team of Jason Muir, Matthew Chew, Paul Wyatt and Bucky Smith delivered a quiet and confident program which gave them the coveted Audi Etchells World Championship 2009 title sailed on Port Phillip Bay last week.

At the completion of the Worlds Muir spoke expansively of each of his crew members and their ability to work as a tight unit within the four-man crew set-up.

Under the guidance of former crew member and Olympic coach, Adrian Finglas, the team went about setting up their program. New North sails in the form of a PC Plus main and two jibs; a GM and a LM2 were added to the sail inventory. The team then went training using the Mooloolaba Winter Nationals, the Brisbane National Championship and the Entire Pre-World regatta as guides to the boat's set-up and speed.

Selection of the crew was a very important part of the program. Each of them had set jobs and said Muir 'we hardly deviated'.

On the main was Chew the 2001 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship bronze medallist in the 420 class. 'He was on full trim trying to get the boat to go as fast as possible. He is brilliant at that sort of thing,' Muir said.

Wyatt was next in the boat. A long-time friend and former skipper of Muir's in their younger days racing in Hobart, Wyatt was key to keeping the team in touch with the macros. 'He was basically doing compass, the line and where all the boats were on the course. He feed us the information and kept an eye on the compass telling us if we were down and so on.'

On the bow was Smith. He joined the Muir team just four weeks out from the championship due to Finglas's commitments to coaching and other sailing programs. Smith did the tactics. 'He was right into the weather and was extremely good doing that. He had Clouds (Roger Badham) weather every day and wrote it all down. We had it set out on the boat from 8am till 5pm. We had a couple of the weather information sources which we used to see if the data was matching up with what Clouds had. If we got a match with most of them then we would say 'yep, that was good', but if there was a big difference then we would have a talk about it.

'Bucky went into that fairly deeply to make sure we worked out a strategy for which side of the course we wanted to be on. The weather was a pretty big part of it.'

Muir just steered the boat fast. 'That was all I had to do. I just had to steer it as fast as I could.'

While several of the World Championship top contenders chose new hulls, Muir's team stuck to a 20-year-old Pancraft hull previously owned by Mark Bradford. Muir picked up hull 874 early in the program. 'It has been around for a while and always considered a good boat. Mark Bradford had it before us and he got second in the Worlds in New Zealand. It has always been a good boat and they don't seem to get soft.'
The team did not win one race in the championship. They had studied the results of previous World Championships and settled on the strategy of trying to stay in the top ten results for each race. 'Most of the guys who have won World Championships have had score cards under ten throughout. If you can get always get races under the top ten then you are pretty well always guaranteed of being in the top three in the worlds.

'We weren't looking to win. We just wanted to be in the top ten in every single race so we sailed conservatively every race. We did not want to go out on a limb.'

On the start line the team ensured they had good boat speed and picked a good spot with only a few boats around them. 'We made sure with the weather pattern we were on the right side of the start line. We set up on the side of the course we wanted to run whether the start line was slightly favoured one end or the other and went with the weather pattern more than the line.'

Up until the races seven and eight of the championship Muir said his team did not take a great deal of notice of what John Bertrand and his team of Ben Ainslie and Andrew Palfrey were doing on the start line. 'We started where we wanted to start and ran our own program making sure we ran with what we wanted to do.'

The result ? A World Championship win to Muir, Chew, Wyatt and Smith 20 points ahead of second place-getter, Melbourne's Damien King with another Australian, John Bertrand, in third.

Feet back on the ground and still coming to terms with his team's brilliant win, Muir is taking time off from sailing to focus on his second love, triathlons, and on his business, Muir Marine Queensland.


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