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Since returning, hes making a habit of it

30 June 2017 James Mayo

Frustrating conditions, but successful racing for Magpie. LtoR: Graeme Taylor, Grant Crowle and James Mayo

"Frustrating conditions, but successful racing for Magpie. LtoR: Graeme Taylor, Grant Crowle and James Mayo"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

As is always the case with an Etchells regatta, there are always plenty of talented sailors on hand. The bigger the event, the more of them there will be. The 2017 Etchells Australian Championship was certainly a case in point. Perhaps it was prophetic that James Mayo would be returning to the Palm Beach Circle, where he won the Etchells World Championship in 1999 with Cameron Miles and Andrew Palfrey.

Joining me for the regatta staged out of the Royal Prince Alfred YC would be reigning World Champion, John Bertrand, as well as a cavalcade of other former Etchells World Champs and club members in David Edwards, Ivan Wheen, and Iain Murray, then also Peter McNeill and Cameron Miles, but the latter would be on another boat to me this time. Miles was on Bruce Fergusson’s, Whisper II, crewing with James Meggison. Now that’s just the World Champs, not mentioning Australian Champions in this and other classes, along with America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race legends. There were 15 boats from the Squadron as part of the 46-boat fleet.

So the 2016 Australian Etchells Champions, Magpie (AUS 947), were definitely after a repeat, with Steve Jarvin coming in this time for Richie Allanson. In fact, Jarvin had an arduous return trip home to Australia from snowed in Aspen, and so club member Grant Crowle stood in for him for the first two days. That means Graeme Taylor would have the tiller, I had the mainsheet, and Jarvin would be on the bow, ultimately.

In this short series of just five races, Crowle did three and Jarvin two of them. Given the changeable weather and sea state, the Race Committee, headed by IRO Ross Wilson, did a really awesome job. John Bertrand AO, with Billy Browne and Jake Newman came out firing to take the first race, but their gear issues (mainsail batten) meant they collected a DNF for the next race. Naturally, this put paid to their aspirations, and despite typically good results later, they finished in third place, 10 points astern of us.

Splitting us were our great friends, training partners, and fellow club members, Iain Murray, Euan McNicol, and Richie Allanson, on Northern Havoc (AUS 1119). Indeed, part of our success at the Nationals was that we were staying on Scotland Island, would go over to Murray’s house for a cup of tea in the morning to chat pre-race, go out training before racing, and then debriefing that night. He really had it going on, for the hospitality was incredible. He is such an Ambassador for the sport and the Class.

Following on from our second place in NSW titles, we left Magpie with Richie, who did an overhaul during the two months between events. It certainly would not have been as much fun without all that, either!

Of course, they only finished a mere three points behind us, and as is often the case in Etchells, not winning a single race does not mean you cannot take out the title. Our best was a second place, and theirs a pair of thirds, but when you drop only a tenth or an eighth place, respectively; well it shines a light on the need for consistency.

One thing has been highlighted since my return to the Class and especially in this last season. You need to spend time on the water. If you do not, then the results will not continue to happen. YandooXX is a case in point. Jeanne-Claude Strong is a good helmer. Despite being in 13th place at the Nationals, they were fast, and this was proven when they took out the Victorian title but a couple of months later. Nev Wittey is now coach, and they have Marcus Burke, Seve Jarvin and Tiana Wittey as crew. They are capable of winning a World Championship!

I know we too have the capability, and are off to this year’s Worlds in San Francisco, with an eye on Brisbane to follow. We all have different things going on in our corporate and family lives, but are aware that the competition is hot and very professional. So we totally recognize that our own success will mean we have to work hard on the water in both Sydney and Melbourne to eliminate basic mistakes.

We are starting very well, but we will need to work on areas on and off the boat, like strength and conditioning, communications on board and do as much boat on boat as we can. The 2017 Australian Etchells Championship may have been short, but it absolutely taught us a lot, and that is why this Class always attracts such great competitors, and provides for a terrific camaraderie. No doubt all of that is exactly why I am making a real habit out of it all once more!

The 2017 Line 7 Etchells Australasian Championship was terrific, and the conditions on the second day were something else. Wonderful racing. We did note that crews like Encore (Peter Conde, Myles Baron-Hay and Brian Hillier) and Iron Lotus (Tom King, David Edwards, Owen McMahon and Ivan Wheen) were getting quicker and quicker all regatta. That said, Gen XY were never out of the picture that much either, so it does reinforce the fact that it is very sharp at the top end of the fleet.

We were thrilled that the work done by all of us, even when we could not sail together, did pay off, and I am so delighted to now have an Etchells Australasian Championship. The Mooloolaba Yacht Club do a terrific job, and with the Wilsons running things on the water, it has become an institution. Our focus is still on working hard with training and our on board communications. We know that there will be a lot of red-hot crews at San Francisco, which we are very much looking forward to. After that, the nationals in Perth loom ever larger. One thing you can say is that the enjoyment is really high at present, and that does make us work even harder.


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