Well if yesterday’s review was entitled ‘sunshine’, then today’s just had to be ‘clouds’. This is especially so, for the transformation of the sky actually occurred as the morning gave way to the afternoon, just as the breeze built from the morning’s 10-12 knots from the Sou’east to firstly 12-15 and then into 18-20 during the second race.
Local sailors all say the breeze dies away a bit after 1300hrs local at this time of year, and alas, that occurred, albeit a little later than the nominated time. It was back to 14 before you knew it, and then by the close of play after Race Six was completed, it was more like 12 knots once more.
All of the 38 crews at the 2017 Line 7 Etchells Australasian Championship, which is the 21st that the Mooloolaba Yacht Club has run consecutively, had a good time in the fresh conditions that had also been around long enough to deliver a healthy seaway that at times had 2m faces to them. Alas, it is part of the charm of the area, and requires great sail selection/rig tension and helming when going upwind, but also allows for good surfing when running back downhill.
Mercifully, the rain held off all day, despite ever so urgently trying to come closer in to shore from further out. There were some oscillations, as it would flick left then back right some more, but Race Management and the volunteers never had to alter the axis of the course from 165 degrees or range of 1.6nm, all day. Race Five, the second for the day, did have a General Recall, and the intervening time was used to reset the start line, putting a bit of bias into the pin end of the line. Virtually the entire fleet was down at that end of the line for that start, except for Iron Lotus. The started at the boat end and then immediately flopped over on to the port tack to bore in towards the beach. It paid well, and on the next work to the weather mark there was nary a soul to be seen out to the left.
Race winners on the day were overnight clubhouse leaders, Magpie, then in Race Five it was Tom King, Owen McMahon, Ivan Wheen and David Edwards on Iron Lotus, with crowd favourites, Encore (Peter Conde, Myles Baron-Hay and Brian Hillier) taking out the last race with a good, every-post-a-winner style trip round the two-lap course. After the five races Magpie (Graeme Taylor, Steve Jarvin and James Mayo) had a four-point lead from Gen XY (Matt Chew, Ash Deeks, Ben Vercoe and Brian Donovan), who were one point ahead of Iron Lotus.
Ash Deeks commented afterwards, “It’s pretty as”, taking a very laconic view of it all. “Dead set gorgeous”, which is Ash’s way of describing the flouro hardware store sourced gloves he’s using on the foredeck. Continuing on in his wry, and totally tongue in check manner, “I just ran with them after everyone commented on them, so I went and bought the whole stock before the company went bust! We are out to secure a podium position tomorrow, so Magpie’s days are numbered pretty much… We are after them. We are not here to play on the beach, and so we’ll consolidate on Iron Lotus, as well, putting them into the back of the fleet. In that way we’ll make sure it stays fun!”
Now the last race was important for many reasons, not only because it meant a full series was now complete, thereby taking a lot of pressure off getting more than one race in tomorrow, but also because the results would see a clear leader emerge. By placing second in Race Six, Magpie now have a full five point buffer over Gen XY, who came third in the final race of the day. Iron Lotus’ fifth place sees them now eight points astern of Magpie. It is a lot of pressure on the leaders, and they will want to ensure they have enough space or remain in touch with these crews to secure a win. Barring total disaster, crews like Encore, Ciao, Fifteen+, and Dangerzone remain a little too far away to cause serious damage, but comments like that can be brought undone super-smartly when talking about Etchells racing. It will all get solved on the water tomorrow, that’s for sure.
Tom King is totally no stranger to yacht racing, and has the accolades to prove it. “We put a new boat on the water at the end of last year (AUS 1442), and we have not been able to sail it too much since then as a team, so this is our first big hit out, as it were. We have had a great event and the racing has been fantastic, We have managed to stay out of trouble, have some clean starts, and that is why we are where we are at the moment.”
“We have been sailing together for six or seven years and if you look across the Etchells fleet you will see that time together really counts for a lot. It is great to be back sailing with the guys once more, and it is a couple of years since we have done a full regatta together, but it is coming back to us pretty nicely. We are looking forward to going to Brisbane (2018 World Championship), and doing that, which will be a great regatta. The standard in the fleet is really high and so many people are putting in the time and effort, so it will be special. It will be a great year or so of sailing from here, leading into it all.”
Of there start where they were on their own at the boat end and ran back into the beach on port tack, which was an absolute blinder for them, King commented, “We started on Port (tack) at the pin end for the race before and that worked for us. Everyone seemed to have some idea like that for the last race, and we still wanted to go right, so we just started down at the boat, tacked immediately, and that got us up at the front end of the fleet.” Tom King is incredibly unassuming, and apart from all the things he is involved with, Tom also does a lot of sail development work with North Sails.
Brad Ginnivan from BGR, who are sitting in 30th position after six races commented, “Massive waves, which is challenging as a first time Skipper, and I do struggle a bit with helming through them. I am hoping for 10 knots, and perfect sunny conditions tomorrow, but that may be a bit of an ask, based on the forecast. The boat is going well and doing fine, it is just our lack of crew time that is holding us back a little. It’s tough competition and that’s what we are all here for. You know we had GenXY only half a boat length in front at one of the weather mark roundings and YandooXX just half a boat length behind, so it is rarefied air, that’s for sure. I would really like to thank Line 7 for all the gear that BGR are wearing and loving!”
There is just the one race to be run, weather dependent, on Sunday. “Good day on the water”, was how PRO Kevin Wilson described it, and he, along with brother Ross and the team did exceptionally well to get away three smooth races. “Our intention is to go into sequence for the final race at 1000hrs tomorrow, Sunday, with an upwind finish to get the fleet back into port smartly.”
If you want to keep right up to date with all the goings on, then please see the live coverage at www.facebook.com/EtchellsAustralia. The Mooloolaba Yacht Club, where you can find all the results and other information, and the Line 7 Etchells Australasian Championship thank all the many volunteers that allow an event like this happen so successfully, as well as Line 7, the Sunshine Coast Council, North Sails, Harken, and the Newport Apartments for making it all possible.
by John Curnow