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.