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Another successful season for Pacesetter Etchells

3 May 2019 Phil Smidmore

AUS1461, Havoc, during the 2019 Etchells Australian Championship with Iain Murray, Colin Beashel, and Richie Allanson on board

"AUS1461, Havoc, during the 2019 Etchells Australian Championship with Iain Murray, Colin Beashel, and Richie Allanson on board"

Photo by:
John Curnow

Whilst the World Championship in Brisbane was always going to dominate the 2018-19 season, there has also been plenty of sailing to be enjoyed post-Worlds.

Pacesetter boats have again enjoyed great success, winning the Nationals, as well as many State Championships, not to mention the numerous Pacesetters with podium finishes. I was very pleased to see one of my older new mould boats, The Croc, securing another victory by winning the WA State Championship.

This boat, which I delivered new as a turnkey package to Michael Manford for the Sydney 2012 World Championship, has won a number of regattas, including a Nationals, and seven years on it is still winning. Michael and his crew of Dean McAullay and Nick Grey have been sailing Etchells for many years, and have been together since 2010. They are true Corinthians. Together they really embody all that is great about Etchells. Third in the WA States was another older new mould boat, Chris Pratt’s AUS1400, Azure, with a couple of Dean’s distant cousins, Ethan and Harmon McAullay, as crew.

On the same weekend as the WA States, the Brisbane Fleet Championships saw first place go to, The Cure (the defending champion), and second place to, This Thing Of Ours, both of which are 2016/17 Pacesetter boats.

Fortunately, I took an array of various spares to Brisbane for the Worlds, as the windy pre-Worlds saw quiet a bit of gear break and by the Worlds, I had sold pretty much everything, which included four new masts, three booms, and a couple of poles.

Although no Pacesetter hulls made the Worlds podium, the winner did use one of my masts, meaning that my masts have won two out of the last three Worlds. Since the Worlds, masts have mostly been export sales, and they were higher than expected. The batch of 20 masts I made last May were all sold by the start of January. In the Miami series this year, four out of the top 10 used my masts. Since the Worlds, sales of my general stock items such as tapered sheets, halyards, booms and poles, etc, has been steady, but down on average, which I had expected to be the case.

I know it is imperative to sell a new boat as a truly complete competitive package, one that is ready to win races straight out of the box. My specification and price always include a lot of items that many others might consider as options or extras.

I have always been very conscience of price, so it is with great pleasure that I can advise that I hope to hold the price of a new Etchells, one fully equipped and ready to win, at under $100,000 (Australian, incl. GST) for the rest of 2019, and hopefully into next year. With the Perth Worlds just 18 months away, now is the time to order a new boat. I have already fielded a number of enquiries from both Australia and overseas for new boats to be delivered to Perth.

While your Etchells needs to maintain a strong One Design compliance, the rules do allow for changes to keep the boat modern, and there has recently been some rule changes with regards to halyards and the backstay tail. The new rules add to the options, old equipment still complies, and for some older boats racing in say mixed fleets, the larger diameter halyards are probably more suitable.

For those considering an upgrade of their current boat, please note the recent confirmation regarding the rules on gelcoat removal and fairing in general. For general replacements and upgrades I have a range of newer products, such as the swivel mast chocks, the vang fitting with no moving parts, plastic jib tack/forestay plate, mast levers, and the Minter turnbuckles as an option to the Brolga turnbuckles. A number of older boats have upgraded to our new console and floor, which are stiffer and lock in better.

Beware of titanium main halyard locks. Yes, they are lighter, but titanium is not as durable as the metal in my standard lock, and there have been several cases where a titanium lock has worn and the halyard ball has become jammed in the lock, preventing the main from being lowered.

Please ensure you know your insurance policy. A lot of policies have depreciation clauses, especially with regard to rigging and spars. Some policies may not cover you if your rigging is over 10 or 12 years old. A lot of my non-Etchells work is re-rigging of yachts often because the insurance policy will not cover the older rigging.

While on rigging, if you have Brolga turnbuckles, please ensure they are the most recent version, i.e. within about five years. These are the ones that measure 18mm thickness at the press pin, and with the toggle out of 2.5mm thick plate. I have the new toggle units, which will fit your existing upper turnbuckle piece.

Good luck to those going to Corpus Christi for the 2019 Worlds. After a very successful season in Australia, Iain Murray is taking his Australian Champion Pacesetter, Havoc, and Graeme Taylor is taking his brand new Pacesetter. Next up In Australia, there is more terrific sailing coming up in June, with the annual Mooloolaba regatta.

Good sailing,
Phil Smidmore.

The Croc competing overseas.

"The Croc competing overseas."

Photo by:
Ingrid Abery


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