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14 winners in 14 years at Mooloolaba

28 June 2010 Rob Kothe

Going into the top mark, Thornburrow was looking good.

"Going into the top mark, Thornburrow was looking good."

Photo by:
Image courtesy of Sail-World

The 2010 Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship - It is the 14th year in a row this landmark event has been sailed at Mooloolaba.

The first Etchells Winter Championship was conducted in Mooloolaba in 1997 and there have now been fourteen different winners since.

The winners were Dave Rose (1997), Russell Coutts (1998), Ian Johnston (1999), Julian Plante (2000), Michael Coxon (2001), Mark Bradford (2002), Cameron Appleton (2003), Grant Wharington (2004), Rob Brown (2005), Cameron Miles (2006), Skip Lissiman (2007), Graeme Taylor (2008) and Damien King (2009) and Alastair Gair (2010).

This year's event was one of the tightest ever. After 100 kilometres of tight One Design racing, the on-water outcome could not have been closer, with the Championship being decided on count back, after the conclusion of the last race of the day.

Here is how the final, wild and thrilling day unfolded.

Mark Thornburrow from Hong Kong held the 2010 Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship Overall Series lead and had a six point buffer going into the final day, Sunday June 13. Mark Johnson was second overall, ahead of New Zealand's Alastair Gair.

Under clearing skies and in 20 knots of breeze, with a one metre seaway, Race Officials set Course 2; 1.9 nautical mile legs at 180.

At the gun, Mark Richards (Are We There Yet?) started at the pin end and inside him was Tom Braidwood (Fantazia). After a good start, Richards was first to tack back across the fleet, Braidwood followed, but both came back again, soon after.

OCS was not a good start for the Series leader Mark Thornburrow (Racer X). Etchells Class President Noel Paterson (Waterloo Bay) suffered the same fate. Both returned and restarted the race, but were well back as the fleet headed towards the first mark.

The breeze had lifted to 24 knots as the fleet reached the top mark for the first time. First to round was David Clark (Fifteen), then Alastair Gair (Velsheda), Julian Plante (North Star), John Bertrand (The Stig), Mark Johnson (Roulette), Christopher Hampton (Tango), Tom Braidwood (Fantazia), Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance) and Graeme Taylor (Magpie).

The OCS and subsequent restart cost Mark Thornburrow dearly, as he was third last at the top mark and likely to be sailing his drop.

In a building seaway at the bottom mark, Alastair Gair had taken over the lead, John Bertrand was second. David Clark had dropped back to third, followed by Julian Plante and Mark Johnson.

Series leader Mark Thornburrow (Racer X) was forced to retire from the race with broken gear and it was certainly not a good day for the Hong Kong sailor.

New Zealand's Alastair Gair (Velsheda) surfed across the finish line to take the win. John Bertrand (The Stig) followed soon there after. David Clark (Fifteen) was third, then Jake Gunther (The Boat), Julian Plante (North Star), Mark Johnson (Roulette) and Graeme Taylor (Magpie).

At the end of Race 5, David Clark had taken the Overall Series lead with 11 points. Alastair Gair was second on 13 and third, after his retirement from the race, was Mark Thornburrow on 17 points. Mark Johnson was fourth on 19 points.

All was set for an amazing end to the series...

On the way back down.

"On the way back down."

Photo by:
Image courtesy of Sail-World


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