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Race Six of the Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship

28 June 2010 Rob Kothe

It certainly was a hard day at the office for Race Six.

"It certainly was a hard day at the office for Race Six."

At the finish of Race Five the breeze had been gusting at 28 knots, but it gradually began easing away. The course for Race Six was set at 170.

The fleet started in 18-22 knots of wind. Mark Richards (Are We There Yet?) was on the pin end with Steve O'Rourke (Panther) next. Then fourth up was John Bertrand (The Stig), sixth was Mark Thornburrow (Racer X) who had managed to repair the damaged gear that forced his retirement from Race Five. Alastair Gair (Velsheda) was next to Thornburrow. David Clark (Fifteen) started midway up the line.

As the fleet headed to the first mark, more pressure was visible at the top of the course. Down the run the leaders were neck and neck. Series leader David Clark chose the left mark, Alastair Gair the right. There was nothing in it as they sailed up their respective sides of the course.

Third to round was Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance), then Graeme Taylor (Magpie), Ian Johnson (Bananas in Pyjamas), John Bertrand (The Stig) and Mark Johnson (Roulette). Mark Thornburrow (Racer X) was back in 11th.

It was blowing 22-24 knots as the fleet arrived back at the top mark.

Gair had a two-boat lengths lead over Clark, with Bulka still third. Taylor held fourth with Bertrand, Mark Johnson and Ian Johnson all swapping places.

With the 2010 Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship title hanging in the balance, it was an exciting and very important beat to the finish.

Alastair Gair (Velsheda) withstood the pressure from Graeme Taylor (Magpie) to win the race, with David Clark (Fifteen) finishing third. Mark Bulka was fourth, John Bertrand fifth and Mark Johnson sixth.

Alastair Gair and his Velsheda crew, Stuart McKinven, David Ridley and Derek Scott won the 2010 Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship on count back, from David Clark and his Fifteen crew of Sean Leonard and Andrew Smith. Mark Johnson (Roulette) with crew Nik Burfoot and Peter Conde, finished third.

The win by Gair means that this Etchells Winter event, which has been running for 14 consecutive years at Mooloolaba, has now had 14 different winners!

Dockside, the four times New Zealand Champion, Alastair Gair, had a big smile. 'Wow that was tough. This was our fifth tilt at these titles, we won the last two races and still only won the series on a count back.'

'Conditions were pretty wild and we had to work hard to stay on our feet. We lost count of the lead changes between us and Dave (David Clark with Fifteen) in that last race and 100 metres from the finish we still thought Dave Clark would get second and win the regatta, then GT (Graeme Taylor) steamed into second place.

'Next year we expect Andrew Wills, the 2006 Etchells World Champion and current New Zealand Etchells Champion to be here, so the event will be even more Australasian.'

Clark, the 2010 NSW champion was philosophical 'A great series and an amazing last race. We were two points up at the final start, but the Kiwis just kept coming at us. Our boat is 'Fifteen' and next year will be the fifteenth Mooloolaba Etchells Regatta - so we figure it will be our turn then!'

Third was Mark Johnson, the 2008 North American Champion. 'The competition was fierce out there - Gair and Clark were a notch above the rest of us today. This is our second year on the podium and our new combination, with Peter Conde coming back to Etchells after a long break, worked very well. We have a second and a third in the last two years, so we are aiming higher for 2011.'

Graeme Taylor, the 2004 Mooloolaba Etchells Champion, who finished fifth, commented as his boat swung high on the crane. 'We did not realise what had happened when we pushed into second place in the final race. We were just trying to stay ahead of JB (John Bertrand).'

Five times Australian Etchells Champion John Bertrand finished sixth. 'Another great Mooloolaba regatta and for me, great preparation for the Worlds in Ireland.'

Series Summary - Musto Etchells Australasian Championship 2010
10th to 13th June 2010

  1. 22 - Alastair Gair, Stuart McKinven, David Ridley & Derek Scott, Gulf Harbour - 2 1 9 (13) 1 1 14
  2. 15 - David Clark, Sean Leonard & Andrew Smith, Sydney - 3 3 2 (28) 3 3 14
  3. 04 - Mark Johnson, Nikolas Burfoot & Peter Conde, Sydney - 6 (8) 6 3 6 6 27
  4. 51 - Mark Thornburrow (M), Martin Mok, Gray Gibson & Simon Cook, Hong Kong - 1 2 4 10 (53\DNF) 11 28
  5. 55 - Graeme Taylor, Steve Jarvin & Grant Wharington, Mornington - (18) 6 8 12 7 2 35
  6. 41 - John Bertrand (M), James Chilman & Gary Van Lunteren, Melbourne - (53\BFD) 7 17 6 2 5 37
  7. 07 - Julian Plante, Michael Dunstan, Nick Garland & Keiran Searle, Pittwater - 11 (19) 13 1 5 9 39
  8. 11 - Gunther Jake, Tony McPhail & Stuart Skeggs, Melbourne - 7 20 (28) 5 4 8 44
  9. 43 Peter McNeill, Greg Torpy & David Gleadhill, Lake Macquarie - (24) 10 7 7 22 10 56
  10. 31 - Ian Johnson (M), Tim Ede & Phil Smidmore, Melbourne 14 17 (23) 8 12 7 58

Sailors from the Australian Etchells fleets have established a Perpetual Trophy in honour of Peter 'Spike' Dorien and an Auction Night to support his family was incorporated into the Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship this year, where over $27,000 was raised.

The Peter 'Spike' Doriean Most Outstanding Crew Member Perpetual Trophy, which is set to become a significant piece of Australia's sailing history, was awarded to Mark Thornburrow's crew of Martin Mok, Gray Gibson and Simon Cook.

For the full results, stories, news and images from the Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship go to

The Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship 2010 was sponsored by Musto Australasia, Queensland Events, Sunshine Coast Regional Council, Newport Apartments, The Wharf Tavern, The Wharf Mooloolaba, Sun Air Bus Services,, Stockland, Ullman Sails,, House, Sunsport Marine and

Full results, stories, news and images from the Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship

Julian Plante and North Star in some quiter weather.

"Julian Plante and North Star in some quiter weather."

Photo by:
Image courtesy of Sail-World


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