The forecast looks great, the fleet number is up and the management in place in readiness for this weekend’s Marinepool Etchells Australasian Championship being conducted by Mooloolaba Yacht Club.
The caravan of 44 Etchells are rolling into Mooloolaba with some of the more anxious entrants already on the water as they get in early to shake off the winter cobwebs and sharpen up for an intense three days of racing off Mooloolaba Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The fleet has been drawn from around Australia with entries from West Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Topping up the numbers are two Hong Kong entries; one from previous Gold Coast fleet member Greg Farrell and the other from the very competitive and 2013 Australasian Championship winner Mark Thornburrow.
Littered among the fleet is an impressive group of world-class sailors – class world champions, Olympians and America’s Cup sailors – joining the strong contingent of weekend sailors. In among the fleet is the current NSW champion, Australasian’s 2006 winner and 1999 Etchells World Champion, Cameron Miles.
“I think as usual there will be a pretty good top five that could win this year including Chewie and Pete McNeill. I am reasonably confident, but we have a new team so it’s pretty much about going to this regatta to feel our way a little bit,” Miles said.
Last weekend Miles made the decision to fast forward his Etchells program booking the boat on a ship and his long-term crew Grant Cowle and James Mayo, for a tilt at the Etchells World Championships in Hong Kong in November.
“I have sailed with Grant since high school. I did the 1999/2000 Soling Olympic campaign with James and Andrew Palfrey and we won the 1999 Etchells Worlds together so I know their personalities well,” Miles added. The team won’t come together until Friday morning as Miles is caught up with work before then.
Sitting in Sydney, freezing, Miles’ is looking forward to some good weather for the regatta. “The first day sounds exciting. I’m looking forward to that. I think we are going to be up against it a little bit.”
The return to a strong fleet number for the Australasian Championship, up from 34 last year, is point of pride for the class administrators including International Etchells Class of Australia president, Jake Gunther. “The resurgence is part of the renaissance that is happening with Etchells as we move away from the dark years of GFC. The coming nationals in Melbourne should see over 60 boats.
“Basically, Etchells are back. They are very cool boats sailed by the best sailors of all ages and genders and the membership enjoys the strength and commitment of a very strong and proactive class association. We will remain as the number one, one-design keelboat in Australia because of our strong commitment to the maintenance of our one-design principles and by providing ongoing fantastic events such as Mooloolaba for our sailors to enjoy.
“Etchells crews want keep the ball rolling through the year and the winter Australasians provide the perfect opportunity to do that,” Gunther said.
There is a bit of sad news coming out of the pre-event week. Brisbane’s Noel Paterson, a stalwart of the Mooloolaba Etchells event, won’t be able to campaign his beloved Waterloo Bay after the boat was dropped while being maneuvered on a mobile crane in Brisbane causing irreparable damage. However, he has vowed to be in Mooloolaba and on the water, somehow.
The current forecast for the three warm, sunny race days is for a 15 to 20 knot south, south-east for days one and two, with the pressure backing off on day three to a pleasant seven to 12 knot southerly.
Racing starts on Friday, June 5th.
more info …………mooloolabaetchells.com