PRESIDENTS REPORT

Presidents Report

7 November 2019

Welcome. I am Mark Roberts, your new President, having taken over the role at the AGM in August. My thanks, and I am sure all of yours too go to previous members of the National Executive. A special mention must be made of David Ritchard, who for over 25 years has looked after our great Class both in domestic and international roles. He is of course a Life Member, an accolade he most certainly deserves.

We have had new faces step up to the challenges, and they also deserve our appreciation for doing so. Your new Class Officers are, Mark Roberts President, David Clark Vice President, Assistant to the VP David Dunn, David Healey Treasurer, Niesje Hees Secretary, and Andy Fethers Assistant Secretary. I look forward to working with them all for the betterment of our Class, and meeting even more of you, our members, during this journey.

Corinthian

One of the main focuses of your new Executive will be to assist existing Corinthian members, and to promote Etchells to new Corinthian members. This is also an initiative recognised at the International level. You will find this most evident in our commitment to coaching ahead of significant championships, and enhancing the premier status of the Corinthian Trophy throughout the seasons.

Across its 50-year history, the Etchells has always been a class that has attracted Corinthian involvement by determined sailors looking for the best in One Design racing. We see the future and the continued viability of the Etchells directly linked to being able to grow our Corinthian fleets at a local, State and national level.

To that end, we produced an article highlighting this, and promoting the 2020 Etchells Australian Championship to be staged out of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club. In that piece, Melbourne Fleet Captain, James Bacon commented, “You know where you are straight away in Etchells, and get your rewards on the track virtually instantaneously. You can get started with an older boat, sail more often as you require lower crew numbers, and then when you have more time and budget, you can opt for new sails and so forth and get even more competitive. I love the class because you are switched on the whole time, which is different to sitting on the rail as part of a large crew on a big boat.” To my mind that sums it all up beautifully.

Corpus Christi success

Congratulations to all of the Australian crews that competed in the 2019 World Championship at Corpus Christi, Texas, particularly to Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Richie Allanson for winning the nine race title, as well as races two and three. Special mention must also be made of Graeme Taylor and his crew of James Mayo and Tom Slingsby, who won the last five in a row to nearly take out the championship. It was an extraordinary regatta, with Australian crews finishing in 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 8th, and 13th. Well done!

On the back of this, it is fair to say that interest in the Australian built Etchells has never been higher. Built in Nowra at the Innovation Composites factory, and fitted out by Richie, upwards of 14 new boats will have been built and handed over to their owners before the 2020 World Championship in Perth. Richie and Iain are to be commended for their efforts to promote the Australian product.

However, both stress that it is the culmination of their thinking and diligence over the last few years, which have led to their recent successes. Yes, considerable effort was expended to improve the boat, but that was only part of it. They also spent a lot of time with the mast and sails in the work up ahead of the Worlds, to say nothing of the amount of time on the water they dedicated to the programme. It was a complete package.

Of his own volition, John Curnow wrote and published this article on Sail-World.com. In it, he looked very closely at the array of elements all sailors can investigate in our never-ending pursuit of yet more boat speed and/or height. Aptly entitled, ‘Where to from here with your Etchells?’, perhaps the key take out comes form Matt Chew. Together with Ben Vercoe, Brian Donovan and Mitch Kennedy the crew very nearly took out the 2019 Etchells Australian Championship in AUS 864. But for trip at the final hurdle they would have done so…

Chew stated, “I can still win in my boat, and plan to have a crack at 2020 in Perth. It is important to note that they have picked the level up, and the attention to detail in all areas. No one thing makes the boats exceptional, just the whole package. There were six sailors on the two boats who are all individually world class”, said Chew.

Rule Changes

As you are aware, a special general meeting of the IECA has been arranged in Miami on 7 December 7 2019. The purpose for the meeting concerns a proposal to change the Class Rules by eliminating the current sail acquisition limitation. Under the current rule, a boat is limited to acquire six sails per year. There is also a proposal to eliminate the use of the sail card. A third proposal seeks the introduction of a sail royalty requirement.

It is fair to say that the proposed rule changes have given rise to considerable interest both in Australia, and internationally. Here at home there has already been significant debate concerning the rationale and efficacy of the proposed changes, particularly around moving to an unlimited sail acquisition model, and whether this is in the best interests of the class. I have heard strong arguments both in favour of and against the proposal. In my view such a debate, even a robust one, should be encouraged. This is a significant issue and warrants considered, sensible discussion.

In that vein, an open format meeting is planned to take place at the Australian Nationals in early January. I would encourage as many of you that can attend to do so.

Worlds. Worlds. Worlds.

Our new season has commenced, and what a one it will be with the World Championships in November 2020 in Perth. It is expected to be a massively popular event, and already there is significant interest from around the world. On the back of the brilliant 2018 World Championship in Brisbane, and with Melbourne 2023 just around the corner, the time has never been better to get into Etchells. There has been, and will continue to be strong growth, and I note there are still some good deals to be had when purchasing second-hand boats. Spread the word.

See you on the water…

Mark Roberts

President

International Etchells Class Association of Australia