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A New King at Musto Etchells Australasian Championships in Mooloolaba

14 July 2011 Rob Kothe

The winning team, Tom King, David Edwards, Ivan Wheen & Owen McMahon, Iron Lotus

"The winning team, Tom King, David Edwards, Ivan Wheen & Owen McMahon, Iron Lotus"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

The first Etchells Winter Championship was conducted in Mooloolaba in 1997 and in the fourteen regattas since, there have been fourteen different winners. These are; 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), Damien King (2009) and Alistair Gair (2010).

Alastair Gair advised the day before this year's event, which ran over the long weekend from June 9th-12th, that he could not defend his 2010 crown. His boat, Valsheda, was still in Customs at Brisbane. There were paperwork problems required under new regulations, for his Australian built Etchells trailer. The best efforts from organisers, Yachting Queensland and even a Federal Senator were to no avail.

'Unfortunately we were out of runaway and could not get a charter boat, but we will be back next year. The event is fantastic and we wanted to be the first dual winners', said Gair.

Day one started in glorious sunshine with bright blue skies. David Rose led all the way to the gun in Race 1, ahead of Tom King, Damian King, Mark Richards, Peter McNeil, Mark Johnson, Jeanne-Claude Strong, Mark Tonner-Joyce and Vaughan Prentice. Ante Razmilovic finished 14th.

Race 2 started after three General Recalls and one Black Flag, in a 5-6 knot Southeaster. With a big shift, the left did best. Damian King led by six lengths at the top mark. Round the second mark and still leading, King was very low compared the following boats in a new breeze. Advantaged by the shift, Mark Tonner-Joyce won from Gary Boyd, Mark Langford, Tom King and David Rose.

Day two provided 18 knots with chilly, grey skies and lumpy seas. Race 3 of the series started with a General Recall, then a Black Flag start and that, unusually, also became a General Recall. A large group Etchells were over the line and race officials could not identify them all. However, six boats were BFD; Damian King, David Rose, Ian Johnson, Tom Woods, Michael Coxon and Mark Richards.

When the race did finally get away with a reduced fleet, there was a good win for local sailor, David Turton, ahead of Tom King, Kane Sinclair, Michael Stovin-Bradford, Mark Thornburrow and James Chilman.

Conditions eased for Race 4, with ten knots of breeze and a one metre swell.

Tom King led with Damian King in hot pursuit - a battle of Kings. Damian led all the way down the last run, but just metres from the line, Tom accelerated in a gust and crossed half a metre ahead. Then came Mark Johnson, Murray Gordon, Michael Coxon, Kane Sinclair, Mark Bulka, Jervis Tilley and David Rose.

On Sunday morning, the fleet lined up for Race 5 in a 12-13 knot Southwesterly.
Damian King led the fleet away from mid line. Tom King was in the third row. The championship's major contenders all went left on the first beat, but it was the right that paid off.

At the first mark, Mark Bulka led from Mark Thornburrow, David Clark, Mark Johnson, Peter McNeil, Mark Richards, and Mark Tonner-Joyce. Damian King was 16th, whilst Tom King was 26th.

The big moves came from Tom King, up to 14th. Damian King, who came down the right hand side of the course and lost places, slipping back into the 30's.

Bulka led the fleet to the finish to take the win in Race 5. David Clark climbed to second place, ahead of Mark Langford, Tonner-Joyce, Mark Thornburrow and Mark Johnson.

Tom King finished Race 5 in 13th place, with that result King and the Iron Lotus crew of Owen McMahon, David Edwards and Ivan Wheen were the 2011 winners. They headed towards the river and an early crane out.

King, the 2000 Sydney Olympics 470 Gold Medallist, had a top class crew. With Owen McMahon, his tactician, King sailed 470s at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. Dockside, McMahon was smiling. 'I only met Ivan (Wheen), who is the skipper of the Farr 40, Sputnik and David Edwards, who sailed a Soling with Nev Witty at the Sydney Olympics, on Thursday, but the team gelled really well.

'When Tom and I get in a boat it just works and overall things came together very well. David has done a lot of work getting the boat in order and it's both well prepared and fast.'

'Funnily enough, we thought our worst result was our best race. In the first race this morning, we had a very poor start. We were slow to accelerate; a boat came up underneath us, we had to tack away and duck boats and in an instant we were on the third row. We had to climb from the back of the fleet, so we worked hard, made some good decisions and climbed up into 13th. We're really pleased.'

Tom King was smiling. 'We are a brand new team and I think we had beginners luck. We are looking forward to the 2012 Worlds, but first we have to qualify. We seem to be on track, being the 15th winner here is not a bad way to start a Worlds campaign.'

With the final event, Race Six, just seven points separated five boats and the minor podium placings were still wide open, as the fleet lined up in bright sunshine.

There was a clean start and at the top mark, Melbourne skipper Mark Tonner-Joyce, led the fleet. Douglas Flynn, David Clark, Jeanne-Claude Strong, Mark Johnson, Mark Bulka, Peter McNeil and David Rose followed.

Over the next lap, David Clark overtook Mark Tonner-Joyce and Clark held for his first win of the series, ahead of Tonner-Joyce, Damian King, Michael Coxon, and Jeanne-Claude Strong.

Tom King and crew on Iron Lotus were the Overall winners of the 15th Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship. Mark Tonner-Joyce and crew Glen Gibson and Stuart Schafer finished overall second.

New, as a skipper, Tonner-Joyce is no stranger to Etchells, having sailed bow with 2010 World Champion John Bertrand and middle with Ian Johnson and Mark Bulka as well as crewing for Jake Gunther at a Worlds. 'We are a new team coming together. We had a terrific regatta, lucky to do well out of the fluky conditions on day one. Not so happy with yesterday, but today we put it together again and concentrated on processes. We are in the Melbourne fleet and we want to qualify for the Worlds.'

The black flag in Race 3 cost Damian King and crew of Andrew Butler, Simon Cunnington and James Ware dearly. In the end, they had to settle for third place on the podium.

Damien King said 'Another great Winter's regatta, but it was so cold, never worn so many layers of clothes in Queensland - still, it was good sailing. Also very happy that the tradition stayed alive. We now 15 winners from 15 championships.'

Hong Kong sailor Mark Thornburrow finished sixth overall. 'This was our fourth Winter's and it was another good regatta. There will be two Hong Kong Boats at the Sydney Worlds. In preparation for the Worlds, we will sail the NSW titles then the pre-Worlds.'

Peter McNeil, the 2004 Mooloolaba Worlds winner, finished eighth. 'Good weather and good breezes. We've won the big regatta here, but never the Winter's. Very tricky location, very challenging and the event always attracts a good fleet.'

Hong Kong based Ante Razmilovic, was 20th overall. After finishing second in the Irish Worlds, he said simply 'It took us a while to work out the course. It's a good place to sail. 15 different winners - I can see how that happens. I will bring my boat down in September for a good World's campaign.'

The 2011 Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship was sponsored by Musto Australasia, Events Queensland, Sunshine Coast Council, Newport Apartments, The Wharf Tavern, Sun Air Bus Services,,, The Wharf Mooloolaba, Klingers Menswear Mooloolaba, Ullman Sails and Sunsport Marine.

Check out the full results

Our sponsors, Musto, and their popular fashion parade night

"Our sponsors, Musto, and their popular fashion parade night"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,


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