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Loads of new boats = busy times

7 November 2019 Phil Smidmore

Sunset over Port Phillip as seen from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club

"Sunset over Port Phillip as seen from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club"

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Another season has begun, and after a very successful 2018-19 season our new boat order book is full.

Tom King kicked the 2018-19 season off with a win in the Queensland State Championships (the pre-worlds). Iain Murray won the Nationals, and that boat then won both the NSW and VIC States with different skippers and crew. Michael Manford again won the WA States while Dave Turton scored a victory in the Mooloolaba Australasian Championships. The year finished on a great note with ‘Havoc’ and ‘Magpie’ giving Pacesetter Etchells the World’s quinella. Well done to all of these, plus a number of other podium place getters in Pacesetter boats.

Despite a number of great performances by our new mould boats over the past several seasons, we have had trouble getting a good run of orders, so it’s great to at last have a run of new boats to build. The Etchells rules have allowed the boats to evolve over the 50 plus years of Etchells, and the boats we are building now are another step along that evolution. The quality of the finish and fit-out of the current boats is really first class. The downside is that the increasing demand to produce boats to be absolutely perfect, and built right to the edge of various building tolerances has driven prices up.

Melbourne should throw up a great variety of conditions for the Nationals this coming January. Famous for a steep chop, all your gear and abilities will be put to the test. Make sure your pumps (and batteries) are up to the task. Don’t let broken gear ruin your regatta.

Insurance companies are coming down hard on old rigging, and a large part of my non-Etchells business is re-rigs of yachts as the insurance companies are requiring re-rigs after about 12 years. All the companies vary and there are no hard rules, so make sure you know your policy.

A number of other items such as spars, tapered sheets, halyards, blocks and other bits and pieces should be checked regularly, and I keep a lot of these Etchells specific items in stock, so that I can quickly supply replacement parts to keep you sailing. I can usually supply within a day or so, and I am always mindful of cost.

We start the new season with a couple of changes in the Australian Association hierarchy. As they bow out, I would like to thank both David Ritchard and Noel Patterson not only for their long periods of service to the class both in Australia and internationally, but also their help to me. Our new moulds were initially pushed by Noel when he was the Australian President, whilst David has been a great help to me as the builder, especially during the building of the new mould and the garboard alterations we carried out. The International Governors deservingly honoured both Noel and David with lifetime memberships last year.

With the Worlds scheduled for Perth and Melbourne, plus the regular round of National and State Championships, there is plenty of sailing coming up.

50 years of Etchells was celebrated at the Brisbane Worlds, and the Etchells is one of only a few, long-surviving classes. We are all beholden to comply with not only the class rules, but also the spirit of those rules, so as to ensure there will be a celebration in another 50 years. Remember the basic Etchells rule: ‘If these rules do not say you can, then you cannot.’

Good sailing,

Phil Smidmore.


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