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Consistent Clarke wins NSW States

28 February 2010 Sam Crichton & Etchells media



Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

Day one of racing for the 47 Etchells representing four States and racing in the Etchells New South Wales Championship on Sydney's Manly Circle was a frustrating one to say the least.

PRO Rob Ridley from host club Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron had the fleet under an AP for an hour and half while the race committee waited for the fickle breeze to settle.

Start gun number one of the series was fired in a seven knot nor-west breeze. Victorian Graeme Taylor's Magpie led to the top mark and with the breeze becoming unstable and dropping in strength to four knots, the race committee shortened the course at the gate reducing the race to a two-leg race.

Magpie took the first gun of the series after what can only be called a challenging race. Mark Johnson (Roulette) came second and Roger Hickman (Sun Tzu) rounded out the podium places.

The breeze finally swung to the forecasted north east direction and race two was started in eight knots. Four boats were called OCS, but only two of the four returned to restart the race. The swell provided a very different race course and racing conditions to the usual Sydney Harbour racing for the Etchells and this is the reason many of the boats are here this weekend.

For many of the competitors this event was a great chance for teams to experience the offshore course to be used in the 2012 Etchells World Championship.

Current Etchells World Champion Jason Muir, who for the first time was racing with class rival Damien King (Barry), commented after racing "it was really hard out there today in light tricky conditions, but it was a great opportunity for us and the main reason we are here. Most of my Sydney sailing has been in the harbour and we are here to get time on the 2012 World's race course. Today was our first day sailing as a crew in new positions on the boat so it has been a good learning curve for us all".

Barry skipper, Damien King, remarked at the end of day one,"we messed up the finish in race one and managed to recover and finish eighth and improved on that result in race two".

Race two winner Tom King (Iron Lotus) said, "It was a very long day out there. In race two we got out to the right into clear air and held our position".

Roger Hickman (Sun Tzu) sailed consistently in the top five to finish the first day of racing on top of the podium. "Well it doesn't happen very often and if you could you would even them all out, you've got to take the luck when you can. We had a good tussle in race one with Roulette on the last leg to the finish and in the second race we had a good start at the boat end of the line. I like the freedom of racing on the ocean. I'd rather be offshore than dodging ferries on the harbor", Hickman said.

Day two of racing and the fleet had picture perfect late summer sailing. After finishing day one in second place, David Clark (Fifteen) finished the day in first overall with a scorecard of 22, 1, and 1 in the three races. This left him with just one point lead over Peter McNeill (Absolute Pearler).

The forecasted north-easterly was right on schedule as the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron race committee set the day two course and got the fleet away on time in 10 knots.

The Pittwater Etchells fleet dominated the top three places in the first race of the day with Peter Merrington (Odyssey) sailing a clean race to win race four of the series with fellow Pittwater fleet members Mark Richards (Are we there yet?) and Julian Plante (North Star) taking the second and third respectively.

"We must be hiding some good sailors up at Pittwater. We (Odyssey) went from peacock to feather duster today after winning the first race then managing to get a black flag DSQ in the second race", Merrington said.

After five general recalls and four teams being disqualified from the race under the black flag rule, race two for the day got underway in a 14 knots and there was a new team taking the gun with David Clark's Fifteen winning ahead of Tom Slingsby's Steampacket 7 and Plante's North Star.

Plante, who is sailing with a four man crew, commented after the day's racing, "day one was pretty tough so were happy in our overall performance improvement today. Our sailing was relatively consistent which helped pull us up the scoreboard. We've got something to play with tomorrow (day three) which could be again tricky conditions like yesterday".

Race six of the series and the crew of Fifteen took their second gun for the day to move into the lead overall. There was another general recall for the start of this race which had the race committee instigate the black flag penalty for a second time.

Clarke, sailing with Andrew Smith and Sean Leonard, said," we've been struggling to get into a rhythm at the start, but our two wins today were from our better starts. We like the pressure and bump and are using this time out offshore as preparation for 2012 Worlds. It's one of the main reasons we are here. Hopefully we will have a good day after we get our main halyard down (it was stuck at the top of the mast) and hopefully we get good steady breeze again tomorrow".

Day three saw the fleet onshore for two hours and the race committee set the race course just inside Sydney Harbour heads in the Sound. The top two boats from the first two days of racing were separated by one point going into the final day. The breeze finally settled into the south-east at 10 knots as the from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia lined up for the final two races.

David Clark and his crew on Fifteen held onto to their overnight lead to win the 2010 Etchells New South Wales Championship

"We've had a great event and being able to get offshore to the track where the 2012 Worlds will be raced has been very important to us. I've sailed with my crew for the last two years and we are preparing for 2012 here in Sydney. We've learnt that at this time of year we need to be prepared for all weather conditions. Our plan was to do well in this event and we have managed that. We like to chip away up the middle of the fleet and I think the fact that we were able to be consistent in the top five places in most races helped", Clark said after he accepted his trophy this afternoon.

Tom King's Iron Lotus sailed a consistent regatta, with only one race result out of the top ten. This consistency helped King's team finish second overall.

"We really enjoyed the racing today in the harbor. We had a bit of luck today and managed to finish on a good note winning one of the races today (day three). Fifteen and Dave's team are definitely the boat of the regatta. They sailed a great series and deserved to win. It's been great to have so many boats racing and interstate teams travelling to compete in a strong class", King commented.

Beijing Olympian Tom Slingsby, who is back steering an Etchells after a 12 month hiatus, completed the podium of overall places finishing in third with the team on Steampacket 7 and winning the last race of the series. Slingsby said "it's been great to sail with Bruce and Guddo for this event. It's been tricky and challenging conditions and I finally figured out how to steer an Etchells again by the end of the regatta. Steering the boat for this event has been very beneficial. I will be returning to my usual boat with John Bertrand for the Etchells Worlds in Ireland later this year".

Final Results - Top 10 places:
1. Fifteen, David Clark, CYCA, 18
2. Iron Lotus, Tom King RSYS, 39
3. Steampacket 7, Tom Slingsby, RPAYC, 43
4. North Star, Julian Plante, RPAYC, 44
5. Absolute Pearler, Peter McNeill, LMYC, 48
6. Barry, Damien King, SYC, 53
7. Why be flat, Kane Sinclair, LMYC, 54
8. Tango Chris, Hampton, RBYC, 61
9. Roulette, Mark Johnson, RSYS, 65
10. Magpie, Graeme Taylor, MYC, 73



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