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Magpie wins 2018 Etchells Australian Championship

12 February 2018 Jonny Fullerton

Magpie, Australian Champions!

"Magpie, Australian Champions!"

Magpie, sailed by Graeme Taylor, James Mayo and Richard Allanson sealed the 2018 Etchells Australian Championship title by a comfortable nine points, equalling John Bertrand’s record of three back-to-back wins. The Mornington YC crew sailed a very consistent regatta and had impressive boat speed both up and down the course.

The 2018 Etchells Australian Championship was hosted by Royal Perth YC, in conjunction with Royal Freshwater Bay YC, and the International Etchells Class Association Swan River Fleet.

The significance of the regatta was the reason it attracted over 30 entries with the majority (21) boats represented by the two WA host clubs along with competitors making the long journey from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. With the Etchells Worlds due to take place in the same waters in November 2020, the regatta also provided the opportunity for all sailors to sample the Fremantle conditions. Another reason competitors were attracted to race in the ocean off Fremantle was the typical weather conditions. Blue skies, warm summer temperatures and strong winds.

Two races were scheduled each day with a mid morning start when the winds were predominantly light to moderate, building to the strong afternoon sea breezes when the infamous ‘Fremantle Doctor’ made regular appearances. Some quite confused and irregular waves were a challenge for sailors but also provided some great downwind surfing with boat speeds in the region of 15 - 18 knots.

The level of competition was intense with crewmembers from past Americas Cups, the Volvo Ocean Race, Olympic campaigners, many past keelboat and dinghy world champions and of course past champions in the Etchells class. There were however also a number of local club sailing teams racing, an all female team and a number of young guns looking to cut their teeth and learn from some of the masters out on the water. As the regatta progressed the whole fleet became much more congested, finishing within a few minutes of each other. Mark rounding was hectic with several boats abreast fighting for position at the gates.

Graeme Taylor and his crew, James Mayo and Richard Allanson sailed a very consistent regatta with podium places in 6 races out of 8, discarding an 8th on the final day. The remaining overall podium places changed each day coming down to the wire in the final race.

David Turton and his crew, Josh Torpy and Klaus Lorenz, all the way from Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Brisbane, started the regatta slowly with a 17th in the first light wind race but steadied and became increasingly consistent ending with two-seconds in the heavier winds on the final day to snatch second overall in the championship.

The Queenslanders were in a final race shoot out with Jeanne-Claude Strong and her team of Seve Jarvin, Marcus Burke, Kate Devereux, representing the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, which went down to the wire. Unfortunately for Jeanne-Claude, a bad start in the final race made her job hard and she lost out on a podium place overall but did finish with the prize for the first female skipper and a very creditable fourth overall.

‘The Croc’ sailed by local sailors, Michael Manford, Dean McAullay and Nick Gray from host club Royal Freshwater Bay YC, finished on a high with a race win in the final race of the regatta to claim third place overall and top WA boat and first Corinthian team.

Another team from Sydney, Martin Hill and his young team Mark Langford, Julian Plante and Joachim Aschenbrenner won the first race but dropped off the pace mid regatta only to finish strongly on the final day and take fifth overall.

Gus McBriar sailing with David King and Peter Vos from Royal Freshwater Bay YC was awarded the Grand Masters trophy and a special award was made to the Amazon Racing Team from Royal Perth YC, made up of an all female team, Karen Koedyk, Jenny Spearman, Annette Koenders and Vera Waldby.

David Turton summed up why the long trip from Brisbane was totally worthwhile. “It has been a beautiful place to sail, its been quite lumpy around the track, magnificent breeze, good sea way, short steep, bumpy, windy, plenty of shifts, great sailing.”

The final word was reserved for the winning skipper Graeme Taylor, “It’s been an amazing week, we got everything in the weather, we had a light air race, heavy air race, a couple in between, we have had an absolute ball, and we are thrilled with the result.”

There were very few retirements, a few gear breakages but most were fixed out on the course. A couple of swimming incidents and very few protests all week.

Daily presentations at the Royal Perth YC Annexe after racing, were made by legends of the class, which was well received by all and provided some good past tales of Etchells sailing.

There was a packed social calendar with a selection of local eateries providing typical WA grub and brews supplied by local brewers, Gage Roads and fine wines from Paul Nelson Wines to boost the egos of winning crews and drown the sorrows of those that fall off the back of the waves.

Etchells crews enjoyed four days of lively weather and some superb racing. The Etchells fleets will now turn their attention to training for the 2018 World Championship, to be held in Brisbane on the East coast in October this year and further down the track for the 2020 Worlds to be held here in Fremantle.

Full Results
Facebook and Drone footage
Regatta info

Jonny Fullerton,
on behalf of Swan River Etchells Fleet


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