For the 2021/22 Season, the Brisbane Etchells Fleet launched a ‘loan a boat’ program to not just grow the local fleet, but specially targeted to encourage more women to the join the class and experience what the best one-design sailing class has to offer!
We welcomed Helen Wood as skipper in September last year and got to work training her, her crew and readying the boat for the year ahead. What a fantastic season, she was just a superstar and such a valued member of our weekly fleet, thank you Helen!
We especially thank Dan Cassell for the generous use of his boat ‘Etchellence’ throughout the season!
Here is Helen’s experience of the season.
Helen Wood, Skipper of Etchellence
I was lucky enough to be selected for Brisbane Etchells’ ‘Loan a Boat’ Program for the 21/22 season, which should really be rebranded ‘Etchells Fleet Fast Track Program’, as I’ve got to focus on sailing skills and technique every Saturday, immersed in a community with a shared passion for sailing and skills to be endlessly observed in a one design fleet.
The Etchells Class has it all. It attracts the most skilled and seasoned sailors, and the allure of the class has always interested me. When the opportunity to join the ‘Loan a Boat’ Program came up, I leapt at the application – although unsure of what I would achieve from it.
And now at the end of the season, I can certainly say it surpassed my expectations, and has left me anticipating the next one. I’ve learnt far more than I expected, on so many levels. It’s the type of environment I was looking for – to sail, race, improve, and have a good laugh. Sailing every Saturday on Moreton Bay is a pleasure in itself (if you can dodge the sandbars).
For regular sailors on the bay, you may have forgotten the natural asset that you sail on. On a blue-sky day, it provided the perfect antidote for a stressful week. And in questionable weather, it reminded me that sailing is all about the conditions, which fundamentally requires skills to read and adapt. Sailors who know the bay – tides, wind conditions, westerlies – are already miles ahead when they approach the start line.
So boat handling is secondary to reading the conditions… A quirk of sailing an Etchells is the lack of engine, so tacking out of Manly harbour, and then navigating the leads, was a good warm up for the afternoon ahead, and the crew warmed up to my helming style.
Etchells are a beautiful boat to sail, easily balanced (I think due to hull shape), although not a lot of sail reduction options when the Summer storms pick up. They require technique and skill to manage the 2800 controls, strictly not that many, but many more than most boats! When you think you are on top of them all, another option surfaces!! Super skilled sailors make sail trim look effortless, but let me tell you, many options makes for more choices, and more double guessing!!! There has been frustrations during the season, some sails just don’t always work the way you want, but that’s life.
Sailing is ultimately teamwork. Whilst I’ve been getting experience helming, racing and navigating all the boats on the start mark, racing rules- its ultimately a team sport, where everyone has a stake in the outcome. I’ve introduced 4 new people to the club, 2 to sailing, and sharing the enjoyment has been a bonus of the program too.
The Brisbane Etchells fleet is a community. A group of sailors who have a range of skill levels, but all are very competitive by nature. Those with decades of experience openly shared their advice with me, and then drip fed their gems of wisdom after each race day. I felt welcomed into the group, in which the BBQ & beer post race wind downs make the Etchells fleet pretty tight.
It’s also because the boats all live together in Etchells Avenue, with easy access to the hoist, where you rig, and you can borrow a missing tool from your neighbour – or Tony’s mobile chandlery. There is also Kevin’s weekly roundup to find out what happened at the front of the fleet.
Thanks to the many, many Etchells fleet crew that have helped me out this season – especially Jason and Tony – for letting me float, sail, and fly. If an opportunity comes up like the Loan A Boat for the Season – Jump at it!
We once again thank Helen and her crew for a fantastic season and we look forward to seeing what the future brings! A huge thank you too Tony Di Betta for all the boat work throughout the season, without his drive and obsession this would not have been possible, Etchellence is in great shape.
If you would like to know more about this program for 22/23 season please don’t hesitate to contact me on 0407 160 900. We hope to continue the program and introduce more sailors to Etchells.
It came down to the final day of racing to determine this year’s squadron championship winner with Patto and Heals tied on points going into the final day of racing. The day started with drama. BBQ Chef extraordinaire Chris tested covid positive on Saturday morning meaning Jason and Jim had to take on BBQ duties for the pre race sausage sizzle. Of even more concern was Patto’s bowman Will calling in positive as well, leaving Patto with a last minute scramble to find a replacement. Liam – formally of The Saint stepped up. Just to add a bit more drama Patto felt the need to take a covid test before coming down to the club leaving a nervous wait for his crew. He duly showed and the battle was on.
We only had 4 entries for the day. Due to Chris’ withdrawal, Jason took the helm of Chaos Theory with Tony being promoted to the bow. Dave Smith joined Helen on Etchellence for the day. The forecast was for anything between 13 and 20 knots from the south east which made the boat set up an interesting dilemma.
As I mentioned Rapscallion and Waterloo Too were tied on points going into these final two races. They also had an identical score card meaning that if they were tied at the end of the day the championship would be determined by a countback based on who won the last race – game on!!!
Race one started in about 14-16 knots with Waterloo Too at the boat and Rapscallion a little further down the line. They both hit the line at pace and it didn’t take long for both Chaos and Etchellence to be squeezed between them and tack off to the right while they continued out to the left. Neither obtained an advantage but Rapscallion blinked first tacking and crossing behind to avoid being trapped on the layline. Patto wasn’t going to give anything away and after a few short tacks Rapscallion had to settle in on his hip for the long port tack drag to the top. Patto had a comfortable 4 length lead at the top. With the left heavily favoured they established a big lead ov erChaos and Etchellence. Rapscallion gained a length or so on the run but not enough to make a difference by the bottom.
Around the bottom and with Patto protecting the left Heals wasn’t left with many options. Bring on the tacking duel!!! After ½ a dozen or so tacks Rapscallion had halved the gap down to less than two lengths at which point Waterloo Too decided to let Rapscallion go left while they went for straight line speed out to the right. Much to Rapscallion’s dismay Waterloo got a small right hand shift to have a comfortable margin at the final turn. Meanwhile Chaos and Etchellence were also having a great battle with Chaos having to do a pirouette after an P vs S incident halfway up the beat. They grabbed 3rd back on the run to finish just ahead of Etchellence. Meanwhile Waterloo Too had a comfortable win about 15 secs ahead of Rapscallion – 1 nil to Patto!
Race 2. Chaos retired after the first race – apparently sailing at the pointy end broke Tony, leaving just three in the final showdown. As long Etchellence didn’t get between the other two the title was going to who ever beat the other. It was all on. With a few minute to go Dave went on the attack hunting Patto pushing him away form the line. The clock didn’t matter for this start. Dave led back to the line with Patto on his hip – both about 20 seconds late. Meanwhile Helen and her crew misjudged the time but still had a good start.
Halfway up the beat Etchellence had the lead while Rapscallion and Waterloo Too were battling it out. Rapscallion had crossed Waterloo and had them pinned to leeward for a long beat to the top in a reverse of the first race. Rapscallion managed to tack just in front of Etchellence on the starboard layline with Waterloo tacking behind Helen to round in 3rd. With Rapscallion trying to keep their wind clear Etchellence pulled alongside, and they fought for the inside position for the bottom mark. Patto saw this as a chance to go for a clean rounding of the left-hand gate. Rapscallion rounded ½ a length before Waterloo Too with Etchellence right on their transom. This created a split between the two title contenders. They came together ¾ the way up the final beat of the season. Rapscallion slam dunk forcing Waterloo Too back to the right. With Waterloo Too on the starboard layline Rapscallion went for the tight lee bow as they couldn’t cross but as Waterloo rolled over them they couldn’t lay the mark while Waterloo Too shot the mark to have a 3-4 length lead at the top. If it stays like this its 2-0 to Patto.
But as in any good Etchells race there was still drama left in this one. It didn’t take long for Rapscallion to pull alongside on the run and at one point was even a length ahead. Coming into the gate mark for the final gybe to the finish it was neck and neck. 50 metres to go and the title was still on the line! 25 metres to go and it was still neck and neck and a slight pin end bias favouring Patto. At this point Rapscallion caught a couple of waves to surge ahead to get the gun by a second and take out the championship. Though the RC announced the result over the radio Dave wasn’t prepared to believe it until he saw it in writing. What a great finish to the season. Helen and Etchellence crossed not far behind to grab a well-deserved podium.
The day rounded out with drinks at the hardstand followed by some celebratory and commissary drinks back at the bar.
It was a frustrating season with a larger than usual number of races lost to the weather, but it was great to welcome 3 new crews to the fleet this year. They all improved significantly as the season went on and we all look forward to an even more competitive fleet next season.
A big thanks goes to Jason, Chris and Tony who put a lot into the fleet this season and to Dave Smith who put in a number of hours working and sailing with some of the new commers to help them get up to speed. Thanks guys.
Well, that’s a rap for 21/22. See you all next season – if not before.
Many thanks to all our valued fleet for a fantastic weekend at the Brisbane Etchells Fleet Championship last week. Congratulations to Peter Conde, Brian Hillier and Miles Baron-Hay for the win on Encore! David Healey, Kevin Molen and Ian Miller on Rapscallion took 2nd and 3rd place went to Vaughan Prentice, Lachlan Prentice and Josh Torpy on ‘Stand In Line’. Congratulations!
Thanks also goes to the volunteers and RQ sailing management team for delivering a fabulous event, especially on the outside Green Island course. It has been several years since we have been able to race outside and I loved being back out there, especially the tight finishes! Sooo good! It’s why we race Etchells.
Special mention also goes to our esteemed fleet treasurer and celebrity chef Chris Nezmah who has been awarded this year’s “Pick of the Year” for his valued contribution over the years. He is a thoroughly deserving recipient of the “Pick”, a tradition that started in the 1980s! Well done!
Kevin has written a blow-by-blow account of the weekends racing below but I would also like to thank not just the place getters, but all those who participated. There were some great battles mid and at the back of the fleet with very tight racing – sometimes only seconds separating competitors. Believe me, Etchells can be brutal on the ego, but the learning experiences make us all better sailors, armed with knowledge that can be shared in the broader sailing community for years to come. My advice would be to be patient and keep at it, the results will come.
We have one weekend of racing left and a nice rib-fillet left over in cold storage, so I look forward to seeing everyone on April 9th to close out the season.
Brisbane Fleet Captain
Brisbane Fleet Championship March 26-27 2022
The gods were finally smiling over the fleet with a forecast of 5-15 kts for the weekend leading up to the 2022 Fleet Championship. We had 14 entries which was great including Wayne Kirby and his crew from Southport on Emotional Rescue. Cam Price was down from Gladstone and a few long time Etchellers in Vaughan Prentice, Peter Conde and Barry Cuneo came out of the woodwork for the weekend.
The plan was for racing outside Green Island for the first time in a number of years with a provision to move inside if the conditions proved unfavourable. Sailing outside provides a different challenge including dealing with slop, bigger waves and a greater tidal influence. This was going to present some interesting sailing – especially for some of the newer fleet members who hadn’t had the opportunity to sail in these waters previously.
Race one started in a pleasant 7-8 knots from the south east. Five minutes after the start a message over the radio by race control announced that the race was been stopped and was to be restarted due to a timing issue that impacted some crews during the starting period, much to the displeasure of a certain crew member! Take 2 – The leading boats all went left off the line. Rapscallion was first to the top and led start to finish with Peter Conde in Encore 2nd and Barry Cuneo grabbing 3rd.
The left was paying all day with Rapscallion going hard left in race 2 and having a handy lead at the top that wasn’t challenged. Encore was again 2nd with Bait and Switch 3rd.
Race 3 saw the breeze up to 10 -12 knots. The left continued to pay with the breeze ending up in the north east by the end of the day. Encore grabbed 1st with Vaughan on Stand in Line 2nd and a well deserved 3rd to Jason and the Knot Easy team who had a last minute crew substitution earlier in the day due to a overnight covid case. Dave Healy’s winning run came to an end with a 9th.
Considering the weather around, (Moreton Is spent much of the day in rain and some significant rain squalls moved along the mainland coast) we were very lucky to avoid the rain and have such consistent and stable conditions.
Post racing, Chris Nezmah (Knot Easy) with support from Tony and the Chaos Theory crew put on a great BBQ. Thanks guys. It’s much appreciated.
Sunday’s forecast looked a little dodgy with concerns as to whether the wind would fill in. The fleet required a tow out to the start and we spent a hour waiting for it to come in before settling in from the east at 7-10 kts.
Race 4 saw some close racing with Stand in Line first around, not to be headed. Encore grabbed 2nd again with Bait and Switch grabbing another 3rd. Unfortunately, Waterloo Too broke their jib halyard and had to sit out the remainder of the racing from the aft deck of John Warlow’s bay cruiser.
Race 5 saw a number of general recalls – first the U flag and followed by the angry (black) flag. This didn’t seem to fix the issue. It was finally resolved after Barry moved his Palm Beach away from the start line where it had ended up due to number of line resets due to the shifting wind. Rapscallion continue their good form to lead around the top followed by Stand in Line, TAG and Encore. It was close racing all around the track with Encore, Rapscallion and TAG crossing the finish line abreast. Encore was awarded 1st, TAG 2nd and Rapscallion 3rd.
The final Race of the series got under way in a softening easterly. Once again Rapscallion was 1st around the top mark followed the ever present Encore and TAG. TAG led around the top mark the final time followed by Rapscallion for the final sprint to the finish. From 3rd place Encore picked up a private puff to grab a handy lead with TAG and Rapscallion crossing neck and neck with TAG being awarded 2nd.
The day wrapped up with Chris’ famous chicken wings and the presentation at the hand stand. Overall, the Encore crew of Peter, Brian and Myles deservedly took out the championship with just 7 points and a drop of a 2nd. Congratulations guys. Rapscallion with David, Ian and Kevin had a very good regatta to be 2ndjust two points ahead of Stand in Line (Vaughan, Lachlan and Josh)
The final presentation of the day was for the ‘Pick of the Year’ award which goes to a fleet member who has made an outstanding contribution to the fleet. This year it went to a deserving Chris Nezmah for his BBQ and culinary skills and keeping the engine room running as Fleet Treasurer. Congratulations Chris and keep up the good work.
Thanks to the sponsors including North Sails (Vaughan) and Gill (Scotty) and to all the work by Jason, Tony and other fleet members to get this event across the line. Also, a round of thanks the RC and volunteers who without their support we wouldn’t have had such a successful weekend.
And finally, a thanks to all the Etchells crews who supported the event. This helps keep the fleet strong and I hope that we continue to get this level of support next season.
Our trial loaner boat program, starting in August 2021 in the lead up to the 21-22 season, will have boats available to those wanting to put a club racing program together. There is a huge upswing of female participation in sailing at RQ and combined clubs, Brisbane Etchells would like to nurture and create further opportunities for women, as skippers of their own Etchells program or crewing in a mixed team.
Our primary objective is to get more people out racing Etchells on a regular basis throughout the club season and provide accessible opportunities to learn to race in what we consider to be the best one-design class in world.
How it will Work
We use the 2021-2022 season as a trial of this program.
The Etchells Fleet committee are reaching out to possible boat owners with available boats to ask if they are interested in chartering their boat for the season. We have a few already available and are hoping to add more in the coming weeks.
Pending submissions, we would like to have at least two (2) female teams or mixed crews with a female skipper, if we manage to get more boats available then we would open it to both male and female nominations.
The Etchells fleet committee (in collaboration with the boat owners) then select suitable skippers from the nominations:
Preference would be given to experienced sailors, who would like to extend their skills into one design racing. They may be active in the RQ Elliot program or keelboat racing programs.
We welcome all nominations, especially those who are keen to grow their knowledge, commit to weekly racing, have fun and are willing to learn.
We don’t want to just throw participants in the program in the deep end, we will do our best to provide training seasons, at least every fortnight from our pool of existing and ‘semi-retired’ skippers to get up to speed with all things Etchells and one-design racing – building confidence and knowledge is what it is all about.
Key members of the Etchells fleet will provide fortnightly Saturday morning training (before club racing starts) where possible to the new teams to get them confident with sailing and racing Etchells.
Conditions of Program Participants
There is an expectation that a team will:
Commit to racing in at least 70-80% of RQ season point club races.
Respect and value the Etchells they have chartered as though they own it.
Sail with a safety-first approach in compliance with the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS).
Respect the Royal Queensland and Brisbane Etchells Fleet volunteers, we all do this because we love the sport.
Work closing with the Etchells Fleet committee throughout the trial.
Skippers and Crew must become financial members RQYS and the Australian Etchells Association and have a valid Australian Sailing number.
The intention is that program participants are supported by the Etchells Fleet, but they still need to ‘carry their own bags’ so to speak, being responsible for organising your crew and getting your boat on the water each week. We will do our best to help you get crew if you are having difficulty
Have fun and enjoy the season.
What does it Cost?
We trying to keep this trial as simple as possible from a financial perspective, whilst keeping the costs down, whilst ensuring the owner’s are covered for their generosity to the program.
$1800/boat for the season, paid directly to the boat owner + general running repairs throughout the season are to be covered by the loanee. You will also need to provide your own compass and personal safety requirements.
Your boat’s entry into the RQ season points and/or additional regatta entry fees such as the Brisbane Fleet Championships or State Championships should you choose to enter.
The Brisbane Etchells Fleet will also contribute up to $1500/loaner boat to ensure Category 7 safety compliance and to get the boat base level race ready.
(The $1800 fee helps cover yearly insurance costs (Boat Owner must have Third Party Personal and Property Liability Insurance cover of a minimum $10,000,000 with racing cover) and a small contribution to hardstand costs. Note that this obviously doesn’t cover all the costs of owning an Etchells and keeping it on the hardstand, but it does help reduce the ongoing costs for an owner)
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the International Etchells Class Association, Brisbane Fleet Inc. will be held in the Auditorium at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Manly, on Saturday 24th July 2021 at 11.00 am
Please find attached the Agenda, Nomination Form and Proxy.
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the International Etchells Class Association, Brisbane Fleet Inc. will be held in the Auditorium at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Manly, on Saturday 25th July 2020 at 11.00 am
Please find attached the Agenda, Nomination Form and Proxy.
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the International Etchells Class Association, Brisbane Fleet Inc. will be held in the Auditorium at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Manly, on Saturday 27th July 2019 at 11.00 am
Please find attached the Agenda, Nomination Form and Proxy.
Winners are Grinners! Lisa Rose celebrate their overall win in style!
Seen a lot of water. Been to a lot of places. Today, Brisbane pretty much offered the classic mix of sun, and just enough wind for the last two races of the 2018 Etchells World Championship. I think it is fair to say that it was very much appreciated by all and sundry, whether they were competitors, or part of the large flotilla of spectators who took to Moreton Bay to witness the crowning of a new champion.
Now despite dire predictions, including no breeze at all just after lunch, it seemed Huey the God of Wind was just as motivated as the Race Committee to get a full series in. True, he may have wanted it to move around a bit, just to keep it interesting, but there can be no denying the intent.
So at around 1030hrs local, with the Sou’easter coming in from 140 degrees and blowing 7 knots at the bottom, and more like 9 at the top, Course 2 out to a range of 2nm, with the leeward gate set 0.7nm further uphill from the start, was all set up and ready to go. Pretty standard stuff by now…
Overnight leader, Lisa Rose (Martin Hill, Julian Plante, Sean O’Rourke, and Mat Belcher) would collect the win in Race Eight. Now whilst this may not have set the padlock on the gate, it well and truly closed it, and so staying in front of your opposition would see you become the 2018 Etchells World Champions in front of a lot of family and friends, as well as many a keen enthusiast. This all came to pass later in the afternoon in Race Nine.
In addition to the overall win, there were the Senior and Masters Divisions wins, as well. “Yes, it is very nice to hear those words, World Champion”, said Hill. “It is something we did not expect. We did know that we had a good team, however. I had known Mat for over 10 years, but it is a pretty tall order to arrive here with a fresh team, and against this sort of fleet, but we worked it together, and we felt the chemistry was right, so we improved as the series went on.”
“Even today when we started as leader, we knew that it was so easy to be first one day and 50th the next in a 94 boat fleet like this. Nervous was not the issue, but you do have to take each race as it comes. We started in the middle in that first race, and tacked on the shifts, which had us around the weather mark in third spot. We did well on the run to make it up to first place, which was important given we had a weakness in that area earlier. So then we hung onto that lead for the race win.”
“It was fantastic, but there was the matter of the next race, and whilst there was a buffer of like 17 points to the next competitor, but we were ultra aware that you could loose that much faster than you could gain it. Tactically, we just covered in Race Nine, rather than go for another win. Gen XY did get one place up on us, but again, the wonderful camaraderie of this class showed when John Bertrand and Scott Kaufmann realise we were in this tussle, and wave us through on Port, which was just marvellous.”
“The team was awesome, but Matt makes ordinary, extraordinary. He is fantastic. Having Will Ryan on Racer C in second place just goes to show the calibre of the Australian Sailing Team.”
Of course, Lisa Rose had an amazing support team of family and friends, including AST Coach, Michael Blackburn. “It is great. I could hear them cheering at each mark rounding and it is wonderful to share it with Lisa, the kids and grandchildren.”
Quayside as they craned the boat out, Matt Belcher indicated to me that he had a lot of fun with this latest member of his collection of World Championships. He also felt a special and unique place inside said group.
Race Nine ensued, and was set to an axis of 090 degrees as the breeze continued to move left. It was actually a bit stronger, sometimes making it feel like a real a 12 knots behind it. The range was set to 2nm, with the gate in the usual place. The difference this time was that as the racing was on schedule, the committee could opt for Course One with its upwind finish.
A leg shortening had been predicted, but it ended up being a change to 045, as the Nor’easter continued to hold sway. William Voermann, Lucas Down and Gary van Lunteren on Triad took out this race. “It was great and a good race, too”, said Voermann.
Apart from nailing the shift to the left during racing, Voermann indicated that, “A good clean start, and a textbook race with fast boat speed were essential. We played the shifts as well, as there were a couple in the first half of the first work to windward. So we stayed in phase, and kept mostly to the middle, and ultimately it opened up for us. The tide also dragged us up to the weather mark, as it began to ebb.”
“Downwind we worked hard, and on the second run, one of those boats that was ahead of us gybed away, which ended up costing them dearly. Almost everyone chose the Eastern gate at the leeward gate, and we were there by design, for we had a forecast that said it would go back to the left even more as the day wore on.”
In regards to collecting a bullet (first place) at a worlds and where to from there, Voermann simply said, “Who knows? We’ll just keep trucking along and learning.”
The largest division in the regatta is the Corinthians, who represent over half of the 94-boat fleet and are also 100% amateur. The popular Iron Lotus crew of Tom King, Ivan Wheen, David Edwards, and Greg O’Shea finished in 13th place overall, with a 49th place their worst result, once the Black Flag had been discarded.
At the time of writing there was a protest pending involving the leader in the Youth Division, Bait N Switch, which was crewed by Jake Lilley, Matt Wearn and Lewis Brake. Irrespective of the outcome, Jake Lilley’s comments about the sailing, the class, and the benefits of sailing Etchells still stand. “It’s been a long week of racing against a lot of top guys, and all the best in the world. It is a pretty new experience for us. It was our first time racing the Etchells, and all together too. It was also our first real Etchells regatta. So we have learned a lot, and it’s really valuable experience for us in our Olympic campaigns moving forward.”
Naturally, their results trended upwards as the week progressed. “It is important to be consistent, and we have not quite got the boat figured out upwind just yet. So we worked on starting well and then be in the right breeze lanes. There are a lot of typical things, but we have lots of lessons to draw upon now, many at the hands of past Olympians. So come the end of 2020 we are going to have many people to thank, hopefully.”
“It feels like Rio was yesterday, and the Olympic trials held four years ago were just last week. Time just disappears, and these regattas are just so crucial and critical little milestones, where we can get some good nuggets from the best in the world off the world, and then get schooled a couple of times out on the water. To race at home has just been terrific.”
The Grand Maters was won by John Bertrand AO, with Noel Drennan and Ben Lamb. The top female helm was Jeanne-Claude Strong who apart from collecting a race win, also finished in 20th place overall with her crew on 1435, Seve Jarvin, Marcus Burke and Jen Danks. She is an inspiration individual in so many ways, and tows her on boat to and from regattas. She is also an accomplished pilot, and brought her own plane home from the USA the long way via Europe and the sub-Continent. On top of all of that, she retains a bubbly personality, and a completely infectious enthusiasm.
Chairman of the organising Committee, David Irvine, was a justifiably proud man at the end of the day. “Who would have thought that around five years ago when we decided to go for it that we would be standing on the deck now, with just presentations to go, which will be my last official duty. In addition to the turnout, I think the conditions have been another highlight. We concentrated on giving people the best regatta we could on the ground, and the vibe in the boat park has been great. My back is sore from all the pats, and my right hand from all the shakes. That’s the best news, and I am very humble and very proud to be associated with this regatta.”
With more than a touch of his trademark humour on display, Irvine offered these gems for anyone contemplating something like this. “Firstly, don’t do it. Next. Jump in and plan the heck out of it. The findings will be handed on to Corpus Christi for 2019 and Perth 2020. You don’t get into it with 12 months to go. You start the moment you win the rights to hold it. It was the best regatta we could have put on.”
“The number of people involved has just been phenomenal. Today we had 27 people out there on start, mark, and safety. We had to make more shirts for the entire group, and it was in excess of 160. Their efforts equate to well over a thousand hours too. It is fantastic for the club, as well as the class. The Wilson brothers have been fantastic, and none of it would have been done without the committee that arranged it all.”
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly hosted the 94-boat strong armada for the 2018 Etchells World Championship.
It is always nice to be on station, on time, and with the prospect of racing getting underway near enough to the schedule. Tick. Tick. Even Huey, the God of Wind had delivered a wonderful Northerly in the ten-knot zone for 2018 Etchells World Championship to enjoy. There’s always a catch, and this time it was the tide was just about to begin to ebb. It had been a full moon overnight, and a massive tide to boot, with the walkways to the floating marina just about going uphill as you walked to the boats.
Out on Moreton Bay, this was most evidenced by the fact the anchored vessels all swung through 90 degrees to be effectively beam on to the wind. Thankfully, I can report that nearly all of the international visitors have now worked out the tides, which in today’s case would be South to North. Cool. As a result, there were many more USA and GBR sail numbers present in the upper echelons of the mark roundings. Nice.
Race seven would be on an axis of 355 degrees, out to a range of 2.4nm, with the leeward gate some 0.7 of a nautical mile up range of the start for the two windward/returns. This has been pretty much the status quo for the week, and it has worked well. Making every post a winner was, The Cure (AUS 1374), which is skippered by Class Governor, David Clark, and crewed by Alan Smith and Ray Smith (no relation), as well as young Angus Sherring for this regatta.
The Cure won the Queensland State Championship nigh on 12 moths ago, then backed that up with the 2018 Australasian Championship and then the Spring Regatta held here also at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. So on the back of all of that, you could appreciate that the crew would be very excited by a bullet (race win) at a World Championship.
Yet there is more to that story, for now that they have done four Worlds, they have collected a bullet in each of them – Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and now Brisbane. Clark spoke jovially afterwards, “Yes. We just need to get the rest of the scorecard sorted out and we can be on the podium one day!”
The excitement was very discernable, and justifiable so, given how much the entire crew has put in to making this happen. “We woke up this morning and said the regatta starts today, as we have been a bit disappointed in the results so far. Coming out on to the water with a fresh mind certainly helped. A good start was essential, and then had speed, which allowed us to lead from gun to gun. (BTW bring back the gun I say…)
Given all that Clark does as a Governor, Vice-President of the Australian Association, member of the Technical Committee and so on, you might wonder what is the driving force. For Clark he simply says, “It is the Class, and keeping the integrity of it going. I sit on the One Design Committee with some awesome people like Andrew Palfrey, Bruce Nelson, and Skip Dieball, and it is all about keeping the One Design close, and it is this that Members really appreciate. Our job is to ensure it is a level playing field. I am a bit of tech-head (in his day job, Clark is a Patent Attorney) and he does love the engineering and materials aspects. I will take a break from the sailing, but keep contributing the Class, and keep it even.”
Of course this all meant that everything seemed to be going along to plan. Earlier on in the week, it was a question of how many races might they get in? During Chooklotto, a game to figuratively put your money where your mouth was, I actually selected six. So today I am absolutely delighted to report that I lost. Big time. Now as a direct result of race eight being abandoned today after two and a half legs, the crews have been asked to get out on the water early for racing from 1030hrs. No new racing can begin after 1500hrs (AEST), so it is clear that the Race Committee is keen to get a full compliment of nine races in for the championship.
So then, leading into the final day, the overall win, along with those for the Master and Senior Divisions too, lies in the hands of Martin Hill’s, Lisa Rose (AUS 1449). She is crewed by Julian Plante (no stranger to the Class himself), Sean O’Rourke, and then a talented local sailor by the name of Mat Belcher (who can draw on eight 470 World Championships as just part of his CV).
Catching up with Hill aboard his boat on the eve of the last day, we talked about what it all might bring from here, given that he was sixth at last year’s World Championship in San Francisco. “The competition here is just unbelievable. Today at the top mark there was John Bertrand, Steve Benjamin and Tom King there, and these are all Olympic stars. To be able to be matching these guys is a great privilege. This is the best competition in Australia, and this is the biggest fleet I have sailed in. Yes the Farr 40s have given me great and wonderful memories, sailing all around the world, as well as all those terrific people you meet, but this really is a notch up, especially on our home waters, as such.”
“Here the stars are all driving, where as with the Farrs it was an owner/driver rule. So I am a new kid on the block, even if a little grey haired of course. We have a great team, and then my Son in Law, Michael Blackburn to be our coach. You know there is one thing you do need to say about the Etchells, and that is the tremendous camaraderie. No matter whether it is Iain Murray or Andrew Palfrey, or whomever, they all help us and everyone helps each other too. I find that so refreshing. Everyone improves that way. We have been training with both Tom King and David Turton, and this just shows how well everyone binds together.”
“This really is the most incredible aspect of the class. We are very thankful for that, but you do always remember that you can be chicken one day and feathers the next. It is so difficult, and the long 1.2km line here, and just a shift on that first work can give you 15 places before you know it. Get on the right end of that and it is great. The wrong end, and well, it is hard to pass 40 boats.”
“We’re just enjoying tonight on the basis that we have achieved this position going into the final day, all the while knowing how easily it could change tomorrow. We can pat ourselves on the back a bit, and I feel we have won the top mark award, if there is such a thing, given how many times we’ve been there without a race win, so far. I get a great feeling being there first, and I guess it just means we must be slow downwind… We are always learning, each time we sail.
Should it all come to pass, Hill merely says of daring to dream, “It would be unbelievable. It is a process, and if it happens it will be wonderful. I might even do a Malcolm Page and jump off the boat, even if there is a shark around!” Lisa Rose holds a three-point buffer at the top of the table over Gen XY, who are further seven points in front of Racer C.
The Corinthian Division is by far the biggest in the fleet, with over 50% of the armada contesting for this most coveted of trophies. The leader is currently in 16th place overall, with a Black Flag from Wednesday’s racing really hurting them. Like they don’t already know that… Anyway, Iron Lotus is no stranger to the podium, having won the recent Pre-Worlds, and the 2012 Etchells World Championship, as well. AUS 1442 is skippered by former Olympic Gold Medallist, Tom King, with regular crew Ivan Wheen and David Edwards, and the ‘new’ member is Greg O’Shea.
King commented quayside, “We’ve always raced in the Class as Corinthians, which we really enjoy. Certainly we’re very happy to be in this position at this stage, so let’s hope it stays that way”, reflecting on the 18 point buffer they have over, The Hole Way (AUS 1306) – Grant Crowle, James Mayjor, and Joe McMillan.
“There’s still 190 points on offer to the highest bidder, so we aim not be involved in that. We’re going to be careful after that Black Flag incident, and anything can happen. There is certainly a whole bunch of very talented Corinthian crews there, and we have all been up and down the leaderboard a bit in this regatta, so you do need to be a little philosophical about it all. We could go up ten and down 30 places tomorrow, so we will just have to wait and see.”
Reflecting on the win back in 2012 off of Sydney Heads, King said, “This is much harder and a lot more competitive. The conditions here are lighter winds with relatively flat water, and the crews all seem to be very even in speed. In a 94-boat Etchells fleet there are a lot of excellent sailors out on the water, which makes it hard, so full credit to those who are doing well!”
The final day of racing is tomorrow, Saturday October 27. At the end, not only will the overall result be known, but also those for the divisions, namely Masters, Grand Masters, Female Helm, Youth and Corinthian, with the latter all having amateur status.
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly will host the 94-boat strong armada for the 2018 Etchells World Championship, as they tussle it out to see which crew reigns supreme. Racing begins in earnest on Sunday October 21, and concludes on Saturday October 27. Now to find out all you need to know about the boats, on the water, off the water, simply go to https://etchellsbrisbane.com.
Looking at it, and knowing this is about sailing, you might expect that headline to be some reference to huge wind shifts. It is not. Mind you, out on the track today for the 2018 Etchells World Championship, we did see everything from 110 early on, to 050/060 degrees, with the latter being where it would settle in and allow two more races to be conducted. This brings the tally to six so far, which is a series, so well done to the entire Race Management team under the peerless Wilson Brothers.
One more race and the drop comes into play, which will make many of the crews happy, especially those already pinged under Code Flag U over the last couple of days or the dreaded Black that made its first appearance yesterday. So you would think that everybody would be playing nicely today, but alas there was more punishment to be handed out, with half a dozen receiving a soft rap over the knuckles and having an early lunch break as they watched, not partook, in race five. When Race Six finally got underway, with the Black Flag out once more, just the one crew had an early visit to the bar at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron mandated upon them. Doh.
So back to the headline, and this type of sailing is a sport where the lowest points matter, not the highest. Now this is where the line, three, not 300 really counts. Technically, there are still three races to be run. Two tomorrow, and then one more on Saturday. You win those three, and you collect three points. Get taken off the course, or sail well deep into the field, and you march towards 300 pretty smartly (and slide down the ladder even faster).
Friday’s weather is also set to play its part, too. It is going to be hot. 35˚C warm, actually, and there is 15 knots on offer, with 25-30 later in the day, and the chance of a thunderstorm too. Indeed one of those rolled through just as the world famous David and Sue Healey BBQ was underway. It did not have a lot of venom in it, but the light show was pretty cool.
Matt Chew won the 2009 Etchells World Championship that was staged out of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Victoria. He was part of Jason Muir’s crew then. These days he skippers Gen XY, with Brian Donovan, Ash Deeks, and Ben Vercoe as crew, and today they won Race Five. They then backed it up with third place in Race Six to stand seven points clear on the overall tally from Racer C out of Hong Kong (Mark Thornburrow, Mike Huang, Alexander Conway, and 470 superstar, Will Ryan – some 13 points ahead of his 470 skipper, Mat Belcher on Lisa Rose).
A further 27 points aster is third place, USA 1464, Skanky Gene, which is Jay Cross, Mike Buckly, George Peet, and Eric Shampain. That might sound like a lot, but remember the drop has not yet come into play, nor has the rest of the racing unfolded, as yet. And so back to Chew, who came up with the three or three hundred line. He also said, “It is my first bullet (race win) in a World Championship, as the best we did in Melbourne was a fourth place. We are not really thinking about what might eventuate just yet. There is still the matter of those potential 300 points to keep us very focussed, and we were just all talking about that on the way back in. Maybe tomorrow night we might just dare to imagine.”
“We had a good day out there, and our worst result so far is a 17th, which is not too bad and a keeper normally, so we’ll see how that insurance pans out tomorrow. Hopefully we only score three more points, which will make the calculations a bit easier for us. It is really hard out there, so you have to get everything going correctly. You just have to try and avoid being in gas (disturbed air from other boats), which can dent your prospects pretty quickly.”
“It is unbelievable on the downwind leg when you see some of the mega-sailors still coming upwind, and a big reminder that it can easily be you. It is our home club and we know the water pretty well, so we’ll see what happens. Three’s the dream…”
Mark Thornburrow has been coming here and Mooloolaba to attend the Australasian Championship for quite some time with his old boat Racer X, and now Racer C. He commented quayside, “We’re relying on Will’s knowledge a lot, as he grew up here, and trained a lot out on Moreton Bay. He knows his way around better than any of us, and he’s calling all the shots.”
There worst result so far is an 18th place (R% today), with the remainder all inside the top ten, including a fifth place in Race Six today. That’s more than a handy scorecard. “We’re feeling pretty good and reasonably confident, and we’re happy with the situation, overall. It will be nice if the extra wind does arrive tomorrow, and it will be good to get another two races completed. We are certainly going to be trying to make them all count. It will also be good to finish earlier, so maybe the Black Flag will appear sooner tomorrow.”
Lawrie Smith, Richard Parslow, Goncalo Ribeiro, and Pedro Andrade on Alfie (GBR 1434), won Race Six today. They were part of a day when the Internationals did really well, and regularly occupied top ten spots during all the mark roundings. Others included Skanky Gene (USA 1464), America’s Jud Smith driving Roulette, and then USA 926, Oatmeal, which is Peter Duncan, Andrew Palfrey, Victor Diaz de Leon, and Sasha Ryan.
Today Alfie had an extra clip on when running with breeze, to which the legendary Smith said, “We’ve been going pretty well downwind for most of the week. Today seemed to suit our sailing, I think. Just getting the waves right, in terms of angle and we also seemed to be in the best pressure. Being fast downwind is a good thing to have in your armoury.”
In talking about the anticipated stronger breezes for Friday, Smith just said, “We prefer it to be like today. We’re OK in the heavier stuff, it is just that there are people faster than us in those conditions. We did a lot of training in the UK this year, and unusually there were very light or non-existent winds all season. The long, hot Summer meant we had three weekends of no sailing.”
“We thought when we came here it was going to be big breezes, but it has not been as much as a lot of people probably thought. One day in the pre-worlds was certainly too much. Certainly getting to know the tides has been a big part of it all. I think we may really only be getting to grips with it now. If we could have done a few more regattas here, then it would have helped. Of course, having to do penalty turns is never going to help either, and we did have to do that on one of the earlier days. All in all, it is nice to win a race. Get a bad start and it is hard to get in the top 20, let alone the top 10, so we’ll just have to see. It is a very tough fleet and there are no slow boats. You just have to stay right on it.”, said Smith in closing.
Racing continues tomorrow, Friday October 26, where it is hoped that two additional races will be completed. In the process, not only will the overall result become clearer, but also that for the other divisions, namely Masters, Grand Masters, Female Helm, Youth and Corinthian, with the latter all having amateur status.
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly will host the 94-boat strong armada for the 2018 Etchells World Championship, as they tussle it out to see which crew reigns supreme. Racing begins in earnest on Sunday October 21, and concludes on Saturday October 27. Now to find out all you need to know about the boats, on the water, off the water, or to register to receive news, simply go to https://etchellsbrisbane.com and click away!