News & Media


October 23, 2018 worldsadmin0

The 2018 Etchells World Championship Race Committee has been pretty clear about it. They have lost the last two mornings to ultra-light and variable winds, and they want to run the best series they can until Saturday 1500hrs, when they can set no more races away. Nine in total would be ideal, seven makes for good times, and six is acceptable. You could call it a mission.

So when they sent the fleet away to the course from the shore after being held on land for an hour and a half, it was a fair bet that Code Flag U would be deployed. After waiting for the continual flicks in the breeze to settle down, and the resultant course axis changes from 025 to 050 degrees, it was also somewhat evident that just the one race was on for the day.

Course One was designated, meaning an extra leg back to windward for the finish, but there was a long way to go before that. There was a strong tide running out of Moreton Bay from South to North and this would turn back in the middle of the afternoon. Any chance of it becoming a true Nor’easter was cast adrift when the Easterly aspect won the day, but it settled in for a good 12-knot type affair, which is pretty much ideal. It would clock even further right for the finish, with a course change to 060 degrees as the direction for the crews to find the Committee Boat and finish pin.

Alas, nine boats did not get to partake in today’s on water festivities, for they broke the start (OCS). One of these was yesterday’s winner, Havoc, which will be devastating for them, but they will put it behind them now, for sure. It also means that with a pair of second places now, Lisa Rose (AUS 1449), which is Martin Hill, Sean O’Rourke, Julian Plante, and Mat Belcher, have a very tidy lead at the top of the table. Etchells racing can be snakes and ladders, so they will be very focussed on achieving some more very handy podium finishes in the days to come.

However, winning the day, after a slowish start was, Tango (AUS 1440). Class Governor, Chris Hampton, with crew Sam Haines and Charlie Cumbley are no strangers to the podium, and were happy with their day’s work, and even quicker to remind me that this World Championship is a long way from done, just yet. Apart from the win today, they also climb into second place overall with 16 points, 12 adrift of Lisa Rose.

“True. We didn’t have a great start. Unfortunately, one of the boats that were OCS was in front of us, and this unsettled our programme somewhat. We just hung in long enough to find a lane out, as we always wanted to be on the right-hand side of centre of the course. We could then find good height and speed, which worked to our advantage, and so we were well placed at the first weather mark.”

“Running back downwind we did not gybe first up, but soon enough, picking up pressure as we went down. We went around the left gate, and played the centre right of the course once more, but the boats who had gone hard right did do well later on in the leg. The process was pretty much repeated at the top once more, and we found our downwind speed was really good. Sam and Charlie are doing a great job, and our communication is quiet, considered, relaxed, and this all leads to good vibe on board. We used some of our lead to cover other boats on the final work to the finish, and it is happy times, but certainly a long way to go yet.”

“Hopefully we can repeat some of clean starts that we had in the Pre-Worlds last week from tomorrow on”, said Hampton in closing.

Also on 16 points overall tonight is Iron Lotus, who won the Pre-World title last week. Following them are a number of crews in the high teens to low 20s, including Hong Kong’s Mark Thornburrow with his Racer C crew, and from the USA, Jay Cross’s Skanky Gene crew, and Jud Smith (USA) helming, Roulette.

Skanky Gene, USA 1377 (Jay Cross, Mike Buckley, George Peet and Eric Shampain), are in seventh place overnight, after a very solid fifth place today, complimenting their lucky 13th, yesterday. Cross commented on the journey here, “Thanks for getting the boat into the yacht club! Our most memorable item so far is how tough it is sailing out there. Everybody is so good, that the steering grooves are very small. Little mistakes have a big effect. Tide has been a bigger factor than I think we reckoned for, and we might have to deal with it again tomorrow, maybe two times at that. I think the weather will stabilise as the week goes on, and we should get a great series in.”

“We sailed the Pre-Worlds, so we certainly had the cob webs blown out. After this we’ll head back to the USA for the Jaguar Cup (in Miami). Might be hard to make the first regatta, but we should be set for the second. Thanks for having us. The club and fleet have been great hosts.”

War Canoe, USA 1363, which is Michael Goldfarb, Morton Henriksen, and Skip Dieball are in 12th place this evening, with a 14th and 18th place against their register, so far. Back on the quay after racing, Glodfarb commented, “We are so psyched to be here. It is an amazing place to sail. It is a big, open piece of water. It’s also really exciting, and there are so many boats. It is also a difficult and challenging stretch of water, so in combination with all the great sailors that have amassed here, well, there is not a lot of room for mistakes.”

Showing a wonderful sense of humour, Goldfarb said of the sailors who had been forced to come back ashore, “Resting up, right? Resting up for tomorrow. We planned on coming here over a year ago, and sailed San Francisco (2017 World Championship), along with the Miami series, as we do every year, and we are absolutely going back for this year’s jag Cup, too.”

“I think our most memorable item so far has just been looking around and seeing almost a hundred of these fantastic boats on the start line is something else. It is amazing, right! We love it here, and appreciate all the hospitality. The Club (Royal Queensland) is fantastic, too.”

Tom King, Ivan Wheen, David Edwards and Greg O’Shea on Iron Lotus won the Pre-Worlds last week, and the first three of them also the 2012 Etchells World Championship. Tonight they are in third place on equal points with Tango, but third on countback. They too had an even better day today with a fourth place, not that a 12th place yesterday was anything other than terrific.

“Very happy to survive another day out there, and not get caught out too badly. We were down on the left end of the line and got clear, eventually being able to cross back over. It was a bit lucky, as many boats got stuck in that corner. We can only hope that we have another five days of keeping our noses clean. It is great fun, and beautiful sailing out there. We are here to enjoy ourselves,, and hopefully we can continue to do that. It is going to be a long week, so we need to pay attention to that, as well. Enjoyment is a key aspect of the process.”

Racing continues tomorrow, Wednesday October 24.

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 and click away!

Visit Etchells Brisbane Facebook page for more images and daily posts.

Image Name Caption Shooter – ©
Day2Etch-10.jpg Surprise (Matthew Fisk, Ryan Fisk and Brett Sims) heading for the weather mark. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
Day2Etch2-17.jpg Grand V with the loose halyard and Magpie head to the clearance mark. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
Day2Etch-37.jpg Highlander (Martin Webster, Robbie Gibbs, Will Boulden and Zoe Thomson) on the run to the leeward gate. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
Day2Etch-36.jpg African Queen (50) and Voodoo Spirit (55) take a large group of the fleet to the clearance mark. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
etchells-worlds-day-2-KJW-5449.jpg Race Two winner – Tango (Chris Hampton, Charlie Cumbley and Sam Haines). Kylie Wilson/
2018_EtchellsWorlds_Rogue_3292.jpg Rogue (Robin Row, Sam Johnson, Gregory Doolan, and Kate Baisden) setting up for the spinnaker hoist. John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_WalkOnWater_3261.jpg Walk on Water (Brett Heath, Glenn Norton, Andrew Poulton) was one of he craft who had to go home. John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_Avalon_3262.jpg Avalon – Michael Bellingham, Will Canty, and Mike Hughes


John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_Finesse_3264.jpg Finesse, which is Malcolm Parker, Harry Hall, Ruby Scholten, and Anneliese Scholten.


John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_FumanchSurprise_3277.jpg Fumanchu and Surprise, with Moreton Island as a backdrop. John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_Highlander_3292.jpg Highlander setting up for the kite hoist. John Curnow


October 22, 2018 worldsadmin0

On shore this morning you felt that it was going to be a grand day. The time had come. Race one, and even race two were upon us. A champion crew was soon going to be determined for the 2018 Etchells World Championship being held on Moreton Bay in Brisbane, Australia.

Yet once out past Green Island, there was less of the 8-10 knots from the Sou’east that had blessed the grounds of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly, and much, much more of the three knots or less, and from anywhere ranging from 010 to 110 degrees. So it was not surprising at all to see the Answering Pennant hoisted before the midday hour arrived.

Some thought we might see some action by 1300hrs. Others went for a more realistic 1430hrs, which ended up being much closer to the mark in the end. This also meant it would be a one-race affair for the day. So with more than a couple of hours to kill, shade became the commodity in requirement, and so tarps, umbrellas and other items began adorning craft, as their sailors sought shelter from the powerful sun.


The good money was placed on a U Flag start being adopted, which meant that effectively you were going home for the day with no racing and no result, and alas for one craft this did occur.

The Race Officers had been clear about this, and so it was good to see that the fleet adopted a no nonsense policy when it came to starting, even if it did mean the spectators were not going to see the usual three or maybe four goes at getting a clean start away. With a 1200m long start line and a 2.5nm haul to the top, all the patience had been used in the waiting, so it was totally clear that it was all about the business end of the game out on the water today.


Today the right of centre was favoured and would be at least 12 knots from the Sou’east, but at the windward mark the increased tidal flow and shallower water meant the waves did stack up a little bit more, especially once that tide fully turned and you had it competing with the wind.

Ultimately the winner was Havoc, (AUS 1461) which is skippered by Iain Murray, with Grant Simmer and Richie Allanson on board. Of course, none of them really need any introduction, so in speaking with Murray afterwards he said, “It is nice to start the regatta, and sail well in the first race. There are a lot of anxious people out there, so getting a good start and first beat to windward, where you can find your rhythm without too much angst is a great way to begin a campaign.”

On the second work to windward they did do well, which Murray commented on, “I think we had a good rhythm in the boat, and we have been working hard on our trim in the last couple of days with our coaches. We have found an easier way to sail the boat, which allows us a little more flexibility in the waves, and not as cranky boat as we’ve had in the past.”

“With a hundred boats and all the spectator craft it gets really choppy, very quickly. If you get a good start then you are in the clear, but when you come around the leeward gate for the first time, and all hell breaks loose. There are boats everywhere, and chop, and all of a sudden you’re in entirely different conditions.”

“To get through all of that, and I think we transitioned that really well, so we made a gain on Lisa Rose (Martin Hill, Sean O’Rourke, Julian Plante, and Mat Belcher), as well as some breathing room on the crews behind, which in turn allows us to be a little more aggressive on the tack. There is certainly some advantage for being in the lead group, and hopefully we can keep the train going!”

Speaking of huddling very much under the large umbrella that adorned Magpie (Graeme Taylor, Steve Jarvin and James Mayo), Murray said, “We’ve been working with Magpie and also 1435 (Jeanne-Claude Strong, Marcus Burke, Seve Jarvin and Jeni Danks) for a long time. They have been great training partners. They keep it real, and have space for some humour in amongst it all. Just good people.”

Of tomorrow, and all the days ensuing until Saturday, Murray simple said, “I think a regatta like this is all about not making a lot of mistakes and maximising your moments!”

Indeed there were many a smile inside the top ten places today. Gen XY (AUS 864), which is crewed by Brian Donovan, Ben Vercoe, Ash Deeks and skippered by Matt Chew, who said of their sixth place today, “We’re super stoked to get race one over and done with a good result.  We sailed clean and fast, are really looking forward to tomorrow”

Mark Thornburrow was all smiles in the clubhouse afterwards, and why wouldn’t you be when your Racer C (HKG 1406), crewed by Mike Huang, Alexander Conway and 470 star, Will Ryan was in a very solid ninth place.

Yet without any doubt at all, seeing AUS511 (Grand V), so a very old boat indeed, and one of the only ones around with coloured topsides still, collect eighth place was wonderful. To learn that this is indeed part of the Royal Prince Alfred YC’s Youth programme (under 25) was even better.

William Dargaville, Sarah Parker, James Farquharson, with David Chapman filling in today for Jessica Angus, were both very relaxed, and also really excited by their efforts. Talking with them all ashore, the group commented that, “The highlight has to be that race. The close racing really is what it is all about. We do like the challenge and technical aspects, sailing offshore here with the big fleet really has cemented the whole notion into our minds, as we got to see the craft come into their element.”

Will and Sarah are no strangers to keelboats, with the 2016 Youth Match Racing Championship to their credit. “There are a lot of technical details that mark the difference between those Elliotts and these Etchells for us to get our heads around. So with Jess coming on we hope that they can perhaps even get a bullet”, added Chapman as he stepped off.

Reigning World Champion, Steve Benjamin, with Michael Menninger, Ian Liberty, Jonathan Goldsberry, on board Stella Blue finished in 18th place today. Benjamin commented quayside, “The race course was absolutely perfect. The race management was spot on, and they waited just the right amount of time to get the race away and it was dead true. 120 degrees was a perfect course. We were quite surprised by the tide change. It was a little more than we were expecting, but it worked out in our favour, so we’re happy about it. It was a really challenging racetrack, we’re having a lot of fun, and really thrilled to be here.”

Racing continues tomorrow, Tuesday October 23.

The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly will host the 95-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 and click away!

John Curnow / 2018 Etchells Worlds Media

Image Name Caption Shooter – ©
2018_Etchells_PearsonD1_4.jpg Rounding the clearance mark and setting spinnakers for home. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
2018_Etchells_PearsonD1_8.jpg Part of the fleet at the windward mark. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
2018_Etchells_PearsonD1_9.jpg Part of the fleet at the windward mark. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
2018_Etchells_PearsonD1_I.jpg Part of the fleet marches off the start line. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
ESI_Race1_001.JPG Team Barry (90), Damien King, Jeremy O’Connell, Eliza Solly and Ashley Stoddart, take part of the fleet up to the weather mark. Emily Scott Images
ESI_Race1_003.JPG Heading downwind with Athena (Alistair Cowen, Mike Allan and Brad Warneke). Emily Scott Images
ESI_Race1_004.JPG Part of the fleet comes into the weather mark. Emily Scott Images
ESI_Race1_009.JPG 95 Etchells is a lot of boats. Emily Scott Images
ESI_Race1_008.JPG Race One is just about to commence. Emily Scott Images
2018_EtchellsWorlds_Magpie_3224.jpg Magpie gets out of the fierce sun. John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_YouthSailors_3233.jpg The Youth Sailors from the Royal Prince Alfred yacht Club sail Grand V to an eighth place today John Curnow


October 21, 2018 worldsadmin0

Well if practice does make perfect, then certainly getting all of the huge Etchells fleet out on the water and back again safely has been locked in. Sailing out or being towed, setting sails, heading up into the wind to lock in the direction and also the flicks were some of the items that this expert armada of sailors also proved they were totally conversant in.

The sun was out for the morning briefing at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, where course layout and description, safety protocols, and starting procedures were carefully gone through. There was a delightfully mild and soft East to Sou’Easter wafting through at under eight knots, and the riplets were only just making about 200mm in height.

As we set out past Green Island due East of Manly, and turned South into the course area, the breeze did stiffen, first making 12 knots and then onto 18 as it clocked a little further right into a ESE position. Ultimately, turning your head back around to shore told the tale. The airport and then the Gold Coast Seaway radios started crackling into life with thunderstorm warnings, and it was not long before the lightning and thunder heralded the magnitude of what was on the way.

With just around half an hour to go before race time, and provided you still looked East, you could have been in awe of what you were witnessing. Sun and wind in the appropriate amounts left you just to contemplate the shear magnitude of the event, and the somewhat surreal aspects of the fact that the regatta that everyone had been waiting for was now officially underway. This also meant that the levels of control various parties now had on things was also taken out of their hands, whilst the sailors got to see it delivered squarely into theirs.

A large spectator fleet had also made the most of the opportunity to come and see what was going on. Whilst the Etchells went to windward to investigate the breeze and the pressure and direction fluctuations, those spectators go to wander through them all. Some, like the large trimaran, even came barrelling through under full noise. It was at this point that you really did feel like it was game on.

Even Huey, the God of Wind, decided it was time to get serious, and the extra pressure he was generating mean the sea quickly climbed up to 400mm and as everyone later rushed home it was 750mm plus. So by two o’clock local, when the racing was meant to begin, it indeed had become a race to get back into the club. Lightning was everywhere but in the lenses of the photographers, and the thunder became more ominous as its volume and duration both increased. The area affected was also large, with it extending from Southern Queensland, all the way into the top of New South Wales.

Race Management is being conducted under the supremely qualified Wilson brothers. IRO Kevin Wilson commented about making the right decision, “As we saw the storm brewing out to the West, we made contact with the Bureau of Meteorology after the gale warning for our patch of water, rain and lightning. We had kept an eye on it, and were not totally surprised when we saw the system turn a little, and head straight for us.”

“Following those consultations we also spoke with the club and all the Race management team on the Committee Boat, and subsequently made the early call to get us home and safe before anything hit. The choice was easily made and it was a practice race after all, so we wanted to get everyone out there for tomorrow, and not have to spend all night working on making repairs to damaged craft.”

Two races are indeed planned for tomorrow, Monday October 22. The first will be of approximately 90 minutes in duration and have the fleet finish downwind. Weather dependant, the second race will be longer, perhaps up to 180 minutes, as the fleet will finish into the wind. Note this is subject to the conditions on the day, and the amount of re-starts that have to be conducted. With Etchells racing, the latter can be quite a few…

Also note that the start line is around 1.2km long, with the Committee Boat in the middle, with pin boats at either end, so that all the vessels can be seen and reported over the line, where required. A fleet of this size also means the first work to windward has to be long, around 2.5 nautical miles actually, so as to remove the element of bias from the edges. The mark is subsequently moved for the next leg, and set at a distance to compliment the wind strength at the time.

Race One of the 2018 Etchells World Championship has its warning signal at 1200hrs, Monday October 22.

The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly will host the 95-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 and click away!

John Curnow/ 2018 Etchells Worlds Media

Image Name Caption Shooter – ©
Flags on the Committee Boat means it is time to head home. John Curnow
BrisbaneRadar.jpg Nasty cell approaches the course, right about race time. Bureau of Meteorology
2018_Etchells_EmilyScott_9199.jpg Heading home under tow is local boat, Land Rat, AUS 1422, John Warlow, Todd Anderson and Curtis Skinner. Emily Scott Images
2018_Etchells_EmilyScott_9239.jpg Surprise (82) and Avalon during the race back home. Emily Scott Images
2018_Etchells_EmilyScott_9280.jpg Surprise in the channel to return to harbour. Emily Scott Images
2018_Etchells_MitchPearson_25.jpg The fleet head home to RQYS at Manly. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
2018_Etchells_MitchPearson_19.jpg Annie, USA 1388, with Gary Gilbert, Andrew Heenan, Claire Heenan and Stephn Girdis on board. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite
2018_Etchells_MitchPearson_16.jpg 1.2km long start line with the Northerly pin boat in the foreground, the Committee Boat in the middle and the Southerly pin boat only identifiable by the big yellow marker it is carrying. Mitch Pearson/SurfSailKite



October 21, 2018 worldsadmin0

Ordinarily you might expect a big bash after a major regatta. Especially one where there is a weigh-in before, and then another halfway through the main festivities. Yet on the eve of the super-well attended 2018 Etchells World Championship being staged out of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron (RQ), this was a party that not only had to happen, it cemented do much about what this preeminent of sailing classes is all about.

Namely superior competition on the water, and then marvellous camaraderie once back ashore. Now the reason for such a marker to be placed in the annals of history is that it is 50 years since Skip Etchells created the very vessel now so revered around the globe, and the one that attracts all manner of sailing superstars to her ranks. Yes. It was a birthday party fit for a milestone of this nature.

Naturally there was one discussion amongst the 245 invited guests that completely filled RQ’s marvellous facility. So yes, the boat and all her many nuances were firmly established, just as her standing as the One Design class around the globe. However, with such a venerable craft and a gathering of Olympians, World Champions, and stars of sailing’s pinnacles in the America’s Cup and Round the World races that would be hard to surpass, it would be the myriad of back stories that one would find inspiring and captivating.

Certainly then, you would expect it to be an emotional occasion, and it was. Some received their Etchells pockets for previous World Championship wins, and the class itself celebrated with a cutting of the cake. Yet for me it was probably all about three things.

The first would be some of the new inductees to Life Membership of the International Etchells Class Association in Kers Clauson and David Ritchard, along with one man deeply rooted to the class and this particular fleet, Noel Paterson. Part of acknowledging the efforts of some great sailors over the journey was given to long time Governor, David Ritchard, who awarded his friend, David Healey with a pin to celebrate his hard work and service to the Australian Fleet, and so mark his passage to Life Membership of the Australian Association. David Ritchard held it together, just, and nearly brought many others to tears as well. Typically, the quietly spoken David Healey was ultra-gracious as he thanked all in attendance for his time in Etchells, which is by no means over, for he is out on the racetrack today.

The second would be the number of sailors under 40 both in attendance on the night and as part of the 95-boat fleet racing in this amazing championship. Some are even former Etchells World Champions, as well as owning other accolades. This is quite incredible, and goes some way to highlighting how the class is moving forward to a big future, and not sailing off over the horizon to be given a Viking funeral.

I spoke with the Chairman of the International Governing Committee, Grantham Kitto, about it all. Given the strict One Design nature of it all, which is of course the reason all the sailors come back to race on such a level playing field, what might be the directions taken into the class’ next 50 years? “Certainly there are new materials which will be better than those we have used to date. There are members of the fleet, like Andrew Palfrey and Richie Allanson, who are on that technology wave and bringing in new ideas, as too are even younger sailors like Ben Durham and Andy Fethers. All these great innovations have to be controlled inside the guidelines. Etchells are what they are because of the strict OD nature, but also the way technical advancements are fed into the class, rather than haphazardly applied over the top.”

Reflecting on who you saw as you looked around the room, Kitto commented, “It is truly insane. The number of top sailors at this regatta, and the depth in every crew who have serious credentials is something else all together.”

The third item was when John Bertrand AO was given the floor. As always he captivated and inspired, humoured and was poignant. He called on some other legends, like Michael Coxon and Steve Jarvin to regale tales from other campaigns when they all sailed together. Some of which cannot be written about, but will now pass into folklore.

Some of John’s time with microphone can indeed be published, however. John was clearly taken aback by talking with eight-time 470 World Champion (and Olympic Gold and Silver Medallist), Mat Belcher, telling John that he was ‘learning a lot in the Etchells, and loving it, too!’

Yet the final item before we close is one that probably shows the love the class best. John asked all those who had been to five Etchells World Championships. It was a lot of the room. Then he asked those to sit down who had not made ten yet. It went on to 15, 20, 22 and so on, until it got to just the two souls, and at 24 it left just Bill Steele standing. He is at his 28th, by the way.

The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly will host the 95-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 and click away!

John Curnow / 2018 Etchells Worlds Media

Image Name Caption Shooter – ©
2018_EtchellsWorlds_50th_3209.jpg Guests arriving into the ballroom, after pre-dinner drinks on the wonderful lawn on a balmy night. John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_50th_3214.jpg Packed in to make a true highlight of her 50 years at sea – the Etchells John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_50th_3218.jpg Some of the former Etchells World Champions and Life Members. John Curnow
2018_EtchellsWorlds_50th_3219.jpg John Bertrand delivery part of his classic address. John Curnow


October 17, 2018 worldsadmin0

It has certainly been testing times in Brisbane for the 2018 Etchells Queensland State Championship. This regatta served as a warm up for the main event, the World Championship, which begins on October 21 for the 95-boat armada that has amassed to find out who is the best One Design crew on the planet.

Winning the five-race pre-Worlds (as the QLD State Championship is known this year) is Iron Lotus (AUS 1442). Olympic Gold Medallist, Tom King, skippers her with crew, Ivan Wheen, David Edwards and Greg O’Shea. They are no strangers to the podium either, having previously won the 2012 World Championship, which was staged off Sydney Heads. Owen McMahon was on board then, instead of O’Shea, and Iron Lotus has also won the prestigious Australasian Championship in Mooloolaba, as well as the fiercely contested Victorian State Championship on the testing waters of Port Phillip.

Iron Lotus (AUS 1442) is one of the new Pacesetter Etchells built by Australia II crew member, Phil Smidmore. In this regatta they had two race wins, a tenth place and a third with an 18th as their discard, to secure a two point win over John Bertrand, Ben Lamb and Noel Drennan on board Triad2 (AUS 1440). In third place and a further six points astern was another boat, Havoc (AUS 1461) with another crew brandishing some real CV power. Namely, Iain Murray, Grant Simmer and Richie Allanson.

Anybody in the top 30 may well have won it had the racing unfolded their way, but King commented on it all, saying, “It was great to get a win (called bullets in sailing) early on in Day Two, and then we secured another in the middle of three today. It is always such a challenging place to sail, and we were fortunate enough to get out of gaol today in one of the races, and this certainly helped.”

“Anyone can certainly take out the big one, as there are a lot of wonderful boats out there and some are really heavily stacked with talent. The highlight for us was the run in Race Four yesterday, which was in about 25 knots. It was the wildest run (sailing with the breeze directly behind you), and worth the price of entry alone! We were in tenth at the top and ended up leading at the bottom. Really good stuff.”

“All credit has to go to Ross and Kevin Wilson and their Race Management Team for getting the racing in, despite the atrocious weather. They, the Brisbane Fleet and the host, Royal Queensland Yacht Club, have pit on a great regatta. We have been relaxed this regatta and enjoy ourselves and continue the theme”, said King of their plans for next weekend and beyond.

So of those conditions then, and by and large they were squally and from the Sou’east. Race One on Sunday was held in about 20-25 knots from 115 to 125 degrees, where Triad2 kept out in front, even extending it slightly on the last run to secure good win. Further back in the fleet it was not so good, however, with one huge squall causing a few wipeouts and several rigs were broken.

One race was also completed on the second day, and crews were held ashore for while before the Answering Pennant was dropped at around 1030hrs local. The wind ranged between 10-27 knots and from 110 to 130 degrees. The damage continued and the squalls were even more intense, yet overall things were more settled in between those.

Race Management was very keen to conduct three races on the final day, today, so as to secure a complete regatta and also allow for the drop. An early start was therefore arranged. The Chairman of the Organising Committee commented, “The Queensland weather finally arrived, and just got better and better. Stunning conditions and tight racing, right throughout then fleet was the highlight of the day for me. It really is what Etchells racing is all about; a great venue, early challenging weather, and a fantastic, tight finish.”

The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly will host the 95-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 and click away!

by John Curnow

Image Name Caption Shooter – ©
pre-worlds-4468 on board Iron Lotus.jpg On board with Iron Lotus (Tom King, Ivan Wheen, David Edwards and Greg O’Shea). Kylie Wilson/
pre-worlds-4580 IronLotus winning.jpg Iron Lotus (Red Spinnaker) with a real winning margin! Kylie Wilson/
pre-worlds-4864.jpg L-R: Greg O’Shea, Ivan Wheen, Tom King, David Edwards, RQYS Commodore Mark Gallagher, and Tom’s children. Kylie Wilson/
DSC_8996.JPG Gen XY totally sending it (Matthew Chew, Brian Donovan, Ben Vercoe and Ash Deeks) Emily Scott Images
DSC_8790.JPG Les Freak Sont Chic from Hong Kong – Martin Kaye, Marco Pocci and Ben Cornish Emily Scott Images
Triad2DSC_8762.JPG Triad2 with Magpie (Graeme Taylor, James Mayo and Steve Jarvin) in close behind. Emily Scott Images
DSC_8787.JPG Tango, who collected Fourth Place, seen here setting up for the spinnaker hoist – Chris Hampton, Sam Haines and Charlie Cumbley Emily Scott Images


October 13, 2018 worldsadmin0

Olympian, World Champion and America’s Cup living legend, John Bertrand AO, is just one of the stars lining up for the 2018 Etchells World Championship. The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in the Brisbane suburb of Manly will host the 95-boat strong armada, 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, yet many will also take part in the Queensland State Championship that serves as a pre-worlds warm up. This regatta runs from October 14 to 16 inclusive, yet is often the one you do not want to win, for it seems to put a hex on your chances of taking out the big one.

The Etchells are a strict One Design craft for three sailors, or four smaller individuals, with the latter being critical to attracting female and youth athletes to the class. This year they celebrate their 50th year, having been designed by Skip Etchells back in the 60s. Whilst that may be considered old hat by some, the aluminium masts and symmetrical spinnakers that adorn these slipperiest of craft that require superfine tuning, and are so loved by some of the best sailors the world has ever seen.

This year alone the regatta has almost ten former Etchells World Champions amongst the fleet, and then there are best on the planet from other classes like the iconic 18-footers, as well as Olympic Medallists, America’s Cup veterans, and winners from the Everest of sailing, the round the world events like the Volvo Ocean Race. Apart from the overall win, crews also compete in the Senior, Master, Grand Master and Corinthian divisions, where appropriate.

Now John Bertrand, or JB as he is best known, is sailing Triad2 with Ben Lamb on the bow and Noel Drennan on the main, both of whom have more than enviable CVs across many classes. Ben has just returned from the J/70 Worlds (another 90+ boat fleet), and they are joined for the first time by Drennan, who’s Etchells credentials are simply outstanding. JB collected his 2016 World Championship in Cowes with Ben and Paul Blowers, but had other megastars in Tom Slingsby and Andrew Palfrey on board his famous, Triad, in Howth in Ireland when he collected the 2010 title.

JB is often referred to by many as simply, ‘The Great Man’, and he spoke about the impending regatta both fondly and profoundly. “The size of it all is a little bit of a phenomenon. However, having spent same days out on the waters of Moreton Bay sailing against some of the US crews, as well as a few of the Australians, it is quite noticeable just how much the game is changing.”

“It is all becoming much more sophisticated, and a lot like Olympic competition, in fact. This is due to the resources people are bringing to the table. So the class is certainly evolving rapidly. This regatta is going to be hot, what else do you say? A review of the fleet is really a who’s who of One Design racing. Etchells are already considered the best of their type in Australia, but I think we are going to see that this event is going to deliver something else on the world stage.”

“Tactically, the Etchells are very sophisticated. The speed differential is minute, unlike so many other classes, so if you can cross another boat by centimetres, then this is a really good life experience.” JB is always very considered in his approach, and commented, “I am just happy to be alive and be on that start line, which is the best way to approach something like this.”

“Not sure there is any luck involved for the crew who do manage to take it out. The cream very much rises to the top in a long regatta. It will be an emotional rollercoaster, and a true marathon, both physically and mentally. To give people an idea of the scale of it all, the start line will be 1.2km long, which means you cannot read the sail numbers of boats on the other end of the line.” (The Race Management team have spotters at both ends to account for this).

“You race in your own fleet in many ways, and if you can round in the top 20 then good luck to you!”

So the crews have all had to qualify, one way or another, and this, combined with the very similar speeds is what delivers another very Etchells phenomenon. 85th v 86th are racing just hard as 28th and 29th, as too are first and second. The result is that there is many a crew story to be had, some of which can be found here (

The one highlighted below goes to show the truly international aspect of the Etchells scene. Greg Farrell is an ex-pat Kiwi, now living in Hong Kong. Farrell commented, “Our team, Dream On (HKG 1269), is one of a half dozen from the Hong Kong fleet making the trip to Brisbane. Following the success of the 2015 Etchells Worlds here in Hong Kong it raised the interest of a number of owners who have established teams or programs that compete regularly at a number of Etchells events internationally.”

“I am a former Gold Coast Etchells fleet member, and somewhat regular participant at Queensland Etchells events over the past 15 years, so Brisbane was certainly on my radar ever since the event was awarded to the fleet.”

Our team consists of myself and Nagisa Sakai, who are both based in Hong Kong, along with Australian based Dan Belcher and Alex Gough, with the latter a somewhat honorary ‘Hong Konger’ after his recent adventures around the world on Hong Kong’s Volvo Ocean Race entry, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Nagisa and I sail regularly here in Hong Kong, whilst Dan and I sailed together a while back in Etchells. Whilst we haven’t all sailed together as a team, we all know each other well from previous sailing and past Etchells events.”

Etchells Vic State Championships

“Given the lack of time together in the boat as a team, and my punter ability on the helm, we have very realistic expectations, and are simply looking forward to sailing with and against great mates, at what we expect will be a world class event at one of the best sailing venues around”, said Farrell in closing.

Alas, it takes a lot of people to put something like this together in the first place, and then to run it once it all begins. However, there is no one who would not say that the size of this event is not the result of the drive and enthusiasm displayed by the Chairman of the Organising Committee, David Irvine. Since travelling to Newport, R.I. in 2014 to secure the event for Brisbane, he has been tireless and determined, but also very empowering as he sought to build a team.

Irvine commented, “The real secret is sponsoring co-operation. The Yacht Club and the Class have come together to make a totally worthwhile programme for on water and shore crew alike. I am sure this is why we not only have the usual array of talent from so many areas of sailing, but also the vast number who have swelled the fleet to be over 300 sailors strong.”


Image Name Caption Shooter – ©
BertrandEtchells.jpg The Great Man – John Bertrand Alex McKinnon Photography
Etchells_JB_3665.jpg John Bertrand, seen here sailing with Billy Browne and Jake Newman. John Curnow
Etchells59.jpg On heavier days, the Etchells is one wet boat! Mitch Pearson
Etchells19.jpg On lighter days the crews sits to leeward to trim the boat for the optimum angle Mitch Pearson
Etchells47 The fleet sets off after the start Mitch Pearson
Etchells5.jpg Rounding the windward mark on Moreton Bay Mitch Pearson