Launching the 2015 Winter Championship
Previously we have seen that inside the Land of Oz, there exists the State of Is. Most specifically it centres on the Brisbane Etchells Fleet and is best described as possessing bright colours, sparkles of light, warmth, and a marvellous and captivating energy. So whether it is the art of sailing being showcased by the Class or the artisans inside the Class displaying their finer skills and creativity, this is the place to be. Little wonder then that they won the right to hold the 2018 Etchells World Championship. So too, that sponsors are keen to be involved, with the Boutique Boat Co. recently becoming the naming rights sponsors for the inaugural Etchells Brisbane Winter Championship.
Proudly Sponsored by the Boutique Boat Company…
One of the class outfits set to take to the water is Captain Formidable, Mark Bradford. Widely known as Squark, he will be sailing in selected events with Bruce and Jane Clark, along with Vaughan Prentice. Of course, Mark, Bruce and Vaughan well and truly know each other from Team Black Jack, where Mark drives, Bruce calls the ball and Vaughan handles the main. Jane is part of the highly accomplished Kokomo outfit and has recently been Etchelling with Michael Coxon on Sydney Harbour for the Milson Silver Goblets and then the NSW State Championship.
The team will be doing the Brisbane Fleet Championship at the beginning of May where the hope is to qualify for the World Championships in Hong Kong, and then see if they can become one of the crews to take out Mooloolaba’s mid-Winter Test. Prior to all of that, Mark and Vaughan will be running a class in the art of Etchells sailing at RQ in Manly on April 18. If you love your sport and want to get some inside intel, then get there for the Etchells Brisbane Think Tank. It will be held in the 100-seat auditorium that is just one of the highlights of the club’s sensational new building. It is both tiered and acoustically sound, so it is bound to be even more pleasurable.
Fresh from big boat commitments, Bradford said, “Thank you. It was great to get both Line Honours and IRC in the run to Gladstone. North Sails have been working on a lot of things with the Class, so well done to Michael, Richie, Vince, Matt and Noel. The Etchells has always been the place to build your profile and to find out just how good you really are. Will McCarthy and Brad Butterworth normally sail with me in the Etchells, but they’re both busy with the Rambler 88 programme.”
“We’ll do the ‘Fleets’ with Bruce and Jane, along with Mooloolaba and having Vaughan on board means there is one less person to beat out there. He showed up for last year’s ‘Fleets’ and won after not being out in an Etchells for over 18 months. We’re doing everyone a favour by putting him on board with us!”
The crew will have to then swap back to both the Black Jack 70 and 42 for other events, like Sydney Southport, Brisbane to Great Keppel and maybe even Noumea. “We’ll get back for the Queensland State Championship in October and then have a big push for Hobart with some more ideas and possibly even some more modifications to the VO70. Can not let Wild Oats XI be the only one with some new things to reveal”, said Bradford.
In broad-brush stroke terms, Jill Connell is certainly showing her class under the tutelage of Wade Morgan. Still very passionate about her Etchells sailing, Connell said, “I have always been interested in fine art. Holiday travel has been built around the galleries of the world, shopping, scuba, skiing or sailing and hopefully a bit of everything! I have even dabbled in art classes even, but these Etchells certainly are inspirational. They are my No.1 and I even do Lasers to help with my Etchells programme. I’m grateful to be receiving coaching in both the Etchells and Laser from such a highly skilled artisan and craftsman as Wade.”
“We have the Gwen Slade coming up at RPAYC and then Odyssey will hit the road North. The Brisbane Fleet’s Jag style Winter Series (a reference to the must-do, fly-in Winter regatta in Miami) is a fabulous initiative and helps fill a gap in our training and racing program. I look forward to escaping Sydney’s cool winter and racing on warmer Moreton Bay for as many of the weekends as we can. Then it is only a short hop to both Mooloolaba and the Queensland State Championship at Southport.”
Another craft certain to take a spin out on Moreton Bay at some point is Mark Johnson’s, Roulette. “I’m writing this from my boat in Recherché Bay at 40˚ South. It’s beautiful, but, windy, cold and isolated. All of which makes thoughts of Mooloolaba (particularly for a Queenslander) very attractive. I left Roulette on the trailer at RQ after the Qld States with the idea being that our most likely next appearance would be up there. Like several others, I’ve been on the podium a few times but not made the top step.”
“There’s no yacht club and limited infrastructure, but year after year the great volunteers at Mooloolaba combine with the country’s best racing venue to produce a classic event. Having had a few years away, the boys are insisting we return again this year. You never need to look at the entry list to know it will, as usual, be a very classy field.”
“Time will probably prevent us doing the Brisbane lead in, so will probably aim for a longer set up at Mooloolaba and then look at the intervening events between that and the Queensland State Championship”, said Johnson in conclusion.
No stranger to showing their class in the Class is team Gen XY. Matt Chew, Bill Cuneo, Ash Deeks and Brian Donovan are both the reigning mid-Winter and Queensland State champions. Matt Chew commented about the impending regattas and series, “I have been on a full hiatus since the Summer’s Etchells regattas and playing around on my foiling Moth instead. Just did the NSW State Championships over Easter. Basically, we have only just put our mast in and cover on. For the Etchells I will say I’m looking forward getting going with the XY team again. We will be working towards defending our championships and so that is bound to mean a lot of time racing when we can.”
We all know that you cannot keep a good person down and there are many, many good souls inside the Etchells. One such person is former World Champion and Etchells Governor, Peter McNeill. In recovery mode he had plenty of time to contemplate his next waterborne adventures with Simon Reffold and David Gleadhill.
“I am sitting on my lounge in some discomfort after receiving surgery yesterday to treat a condition commonly known as surfers ear. They knock you out and drill out boney growths in the ear canal, caused by years of exposure to cold water and cold wind. It’s not much fun, as it is a fairly long recovery, but I will be good to go by the time Mooloolaba comes around, which we are looking forward to competing in.”
“After Mooloolaba, we will move our boat down the highway as we are planning to compete in the new Boutique Boat Co. Brisbane Etchells Winter Championship at RQYS. We’ll then head a little further South for the QLD States on the Gold Coast over the October long weekend. So there’s plenty of fun to be had in sunny Queensland over the next few months. See you there!”
Brisbane Fleet Captain and Etchells Governor, Noel Paterson said, “We are going to make it even more appealing for everyone with low entry fees and we’ll help with moving your boat around too.”
Right then – to the all-important dates, with the ones in bold forming the Boutique Boat Co. Brisbane Etchells Winter Championship:
- May 2 and 3 May – Brisbane Fleet Championship of six races over two days with a presentation afterwards.
- June 4 to 7 – Etchells Australasian Winter Championship – Mooloolaba.
- June 27 and 28 – Six race regatta over two days with a minor presentation afterwards.
- August 1 and 2 – Six race regatta over two days with a minor presentation afterwards.
- 5 and 6 September – Six race regatta over two days with an overall championship presentation afterwards.
- 3 to 5 October – Queensland State Championship – Gold Coast.
Need more reasons to be there? Think warmth, sparkle and invigorating energy, and that’s just the welcome you’ll receive from the Brisbane Fleet. You can book in to stay at the on-site Marina Cove Motel, but the word is to do that early if it sounds like you. So then, if you have not already experienced the world-renowned Brisbane hospitality, these brilliantly conceived regattas are the best ever reason to travel and take it all in for yourself.
To check out the newest art school, ‘Is’, and also all things Etchells, please visit www.etchells.org.au