An array of conditions greeted the 39 starters in the 2017 Line 7 Etchells Australasian Championship.
One crew managed them better than anyone else. So with three individual race wins and a pair of seconds from the seven that were held from Friday to Sunday, the crew to have their name inscribed as the 21st winners of the Mooloolaba Yacht Club’s annual classic is, Magpie. In second place was the fast finishing Iron Lotus, and in third were the social media favourites, Gen XY.
Magpie’s win is even more impressive because the three sailors do not live in the same city. Long, long sailing pedigrees help, and Graeme Taylor, Steve Jarvin and James Mayo’s names will be found attached to anything from Australian and World Etchells Championships, to Sydney Hobart records and other events the world over.
Taylor said of the regatta, which is his second as a Skipper, “We are all really delighted to have secured the win today. The conditions here are just epic. A beautiful breeze, nice warm conditions for us coming up from the South, so there would be no disappointment from anyone out there, especially with the first two days. It is easy, with the boats close by, accommodation everywhere, great hospitality, and so it really ticks all the boxes.”
As for clawing their way back into that last race of the regatta today, when they were buried way deep in the field, Taylor commented, “We certainly hit it into the rough on that first beat to windward. We didn’t panic, because we knew it was going to be a long day out there, with the lighter conditions and the longer course being selected by Race Management. So it was hard work in the challenging conditions, which provided for lots of opportunities, give it was a full par five hole”, said Taylor making the most of the golfing analogy.
“We were just trying to get inside the top 12 to better our current race drop. We knew Gen XY were also deep, and that Iron Lotus was out in front in third place, so we needed to be in 11th place or better, and that was our initial goal. We capitalised on some chances, like at the bottom gate after the first run, and collected five spots there alone.”
“We had plenty more to get, so when we saw some wind to the right, we marched straight over. It was also where Iron Lotus was, and we knew we had made some ground on them as well. We took a couple more on the run and then the last work and there we were in second place. Very happy.” The Magpie crew wanted to remind everyone just how much training does help, and in the process, also acknowledged the efforts of Nev Wittey and Richie Allanson with their own programme.
It all means that Taylor now has two of these iconic Mooloolaba Yacht Club Etchells events to his name with the tiller in his hand and also one more when he held the mainsheet. Steve Jarvin also has three, and says this one could well be his favourite, because he beat his son. Seve Jarvin was sailing with Jeanne-Claude Strong, Marcus Burke and Tiana Wittey on Yandoo XX.
And so to the third member of the crew… He is James Mayo, who is a two-time Australian Etchells Champion with this very same crew, a NSW Champion back in the day, and now collects his first Etchells Australasian Championship here at Mooloolaba. Nice work. Mayo is also a former Etchells World Champion, which is a terrific segue into what this crew are doing next. They will collect a new boat in San Francisco come September, race it in the Worlds there, then ship it back to Australia in time for the Australian Championship next January in Perth. The current boat looks like the one being used for the 2018 Australasian Championship next June and then the World Championships in Brisbane, next October.
As we have seen earlier, Gen XY (Matt Chew, Ben Vercoe, Brian Donovan and Ash Deeks) did not have one of their best days at the office. They did subsequently comment that they already knew they had gone the wrong way on the first work to weather, and it was really driven home when they heard that Encore (Peter Conde, Brian Hillier and Myles Baron-Hay) had rounded the mark, and yet they were still only half way there!
However they stuck at it, and just like Magpie they clawed back a lot of places to ensure they would remain on the podium at the end. They were happy about their third place overall, as you could imagine, but given they had a huge buffer at the start of the day, and to finish just two points ahead of Encore, well, let’s just say there were plenty of sighs of relief. Plenty.
Now another of the almost hidden gems inside this premier of One Design classes, is the way everyone helps everyone else. Whether it is tuning advice, for these craft love all the tweaks on the strings, assistance in the boat park hoisting your mast or much more, the class does help the class out. At major regattas, the North Sails jib prize is awarded to those who could do with the encouragement, and a push up the scoreboard.
Michael Coxon is the supremo for North Sails in Australia and has over 35 years of involvement with Etchells. At this regatta he was sailing with David Dunn and Andrew Howe on Great White Hunter. David had been out of the class for a while and there was more than one mark rounding where you saw their AUS1401 sail number inside the top 10 places.
It was Coxon’s job to draw the winner of the brand new jib, which was a random draw from a collection of certain place getters in each race. Local boat, Mojo, skippered by Simon Ellis was the fortunate recipient, and wasn’t he thrilled!
Event Organiser, Trevor Martin, said, “Thank you to all the participants, and Mooloolaba Yacht Club volunteers that make a great regatta happen. Our 21st year has been a success on many fronts, and we also acknowledge our great sponsors, the Sunshine Coast Council, Line 7, North Sails, Harken, The Wharf, and the Newport Apartments. See you all next year!”
The media team would also like to make a note of very personal thanks to Macca and Josh for carting us around in Simon’s boat, who just happens to be Macca’s neighbour. Wonder how many cases of beer that cost? Very localised appreciation, and very much acknowledged. Finally, all the live coverage can be replayed at www.facebook.com/EtchellsAustralia. Please go to www.MooloolabaYachtClub.com.au for all the results and other information regarding the Line 7 Etchells Australasian Championship.
by John Curnow