It is often said that Melbourne’s weather can be everything or nothing, and a complete combination of all of the above. And that’s just in the one day! Well, now you’ll be able to see it all unfold from right on the water, and in the air.
The final day of the Land Rover 2017 Etchells Victorian Championship is to be streamed live from Port Phillip.
Just under 30 crews from South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Hong Kong, along with locals from Melbourne, Geelong and Metung will descend on the host club, Royal Brighton YC for the battle. Not only is it an impressive fleet in number, inside the gathering are some of our country and the world’s best sailors.
Etchells have always attracted the greatest to their midst, and so for the first time, the final day’s racing will be streamed live back to the clubhouse, and the world. Not only will there be on water footage, there will also be aerial imagery from a drone, so together with the expert commentary, anyone watching will have the best platform from which to watch the final outcome be played out.
The Championship runs from March 10 to 13, 2017. There will complete coverage with articles, still and motion imagery all available, and on the last day, the coverage by Boats on TV in conjunction with LF Sports will go live. Commentary will be by Ed Fethers from Western Australia. Fethers is a host on radio in Perth, and also does live commentary for the Warren Jones Regatta.
So what of the competition? Well it gets no bigger than John Bertrand, AO. The reigning Etchells World Champion is eyeing off his tenth State Championship. Bertrand commented, “Typical of these regattas, the competition will be hot. Etchells racing is still the closest in the country. Boats cross each other with centimetres to spare. Room for error is basically non-existent. That’s what makes it so enthralling…and exciting.” Sailing with Bertrand are long-term local crew Billy Browne and Jake Newman.
So if you have the World Champion on hand, you’d better have the newly crowned Australian Champion as well. Having gone back to back only six weeks ago, Team Magpie are flying in, literally, for this event. It is somewhat ominous, because the last time that they crossed the International Date Line and arrived at RBYC, they won the event, and that was the 2016 Australian Championship.
The crew consists of James Mayo, Steve Jarvin and Skipper, Graeme Taylor. Taylor said, “We are really looking forward to it! I think it will be an exciting, and close fought regatta.”
Chris Hampton’s, Tango, is now a regular in the top five at a major regatta, and since their maiden big regatta win less than 12 months ago, they have been almost super-glued to the podium. Hampton was also recently made an International Governor of the class. His astute reading of the fleet is always on the mark and makes for a terrific synopsis.
“It really will be very interesting. Entries are up to 27 and still growing. Quality is very strong, including the current World Champion, new Australian Champion, and a former World Champion in Cameron Miles, who is crewing on Whisper II with Bruce Ferguson and David Sampson. There are also a couple of very strong local comebacks, including Ian ‘Biggles’ Johnson crewing with Andrew Smith on the formidable David Clark’s, Fifteen+. There is also, The Boat, with Jake Gunther, Jon Holroyd and Stuart Skeggs, and then Bruce McBriar, Jeff Casley and Tony Bond on, Fast Forward.”
The experience of these crews on Port Philip will hold them in good stead. Interstate visitors including Jeanne-Claude Strong with Marcus Burke, Seve Jarvin and Tiana Wittey crewing Yandoo XX, John Warlow’s Land Rat from Brisbane with Curtis Skinner and Mick Patrick on board, and then Mark Roberts, Chad Elsegood and Matt Johnston from Adelaide on, Fumanchu.”
“Internationally, making the long trip from Hong Kong are James Polson, Akira Sakai and Rory Godman on, Conspiracy. All of these will challenge the locals and many more will be keen to get a piece of the leader board.”
“On Tango we have our World’s team of Sam Haines and Mark Andrews. On the weather front we haven’t had the consistency of strong seabreezes this season, so we’re expecting variable conditions, which will challenge everyone”, said Hampton in closing.
RBYC is no stranger to Etchells or the events they hold. Vice Commodore, Paul Pascoe said, “We would like to welcome all Etchells sailors competing in the Victorian Championship, along with friends and family onto the waters of Port Phillip and our club.”
“Etchells continue to be the premier One Design racing fleet and with Olympians, current and former World and Australian Champions, America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors already entered, the sailing promises to be of the highest quality.”
“To support a fleet of this quality, we have put together an equally esteemed race management team, with a number of International Race Offices that are lead by Kevin and Ross Wilson, and International Judges to be lead by Danielle Watkins.”
“The club is undergoing a major redevelopment of the yard and downstairs bistro area, providing sailors and supporters with a first class facility for before and after racing. In conclusion, welcome, good luck and fair sailing!”
Now in track and field, the triple jump is a challenging event, requiring pace, flexibility, agility and power. It is not unlike the Etchells in that regard, but the following is not that much of leap, when you stack it all up. Land Rover. Ben Ainslie Racing and the Victorian Etchells.
Clarissa Flockart from Brighton Land Rover commented, “We are proud to sponsor the Victorian Etchells State Championship at RBYC. Land Rover has a close association with sailing through its partnership with the BAR America’s Cup Challenge. At a more local level, we are delighted to support first class competitive racing, where sailors tackle ever-changing conditions with a spirit of adventure. Brighton Land Rover would like to wish all the competitors the best of luck and good sailing. #AboveAndBeyond and #BrightonLandRover are available for use in any social media posts competitors and friends would like to make.”
One person very excited by it all is Melbourne Fleet Captain, Peter Coleman. He works extensively and tirelessly to make it all happen, and retains a smile throughout the journey. “Next year the State Championship will also be held here at RBYC, and they will also be the qualifiers for the Melbourne Fleet, leading into the 2018 World Championship in Brisbane.”
So it certainly will be a challenge to be in Top 10 of the Brighton Land Rover Etchells Victorian State Championship. That’s true whether you’re talking mark roundings, individual races, or points overall. However, to win it will be a real testament to skill, for that crew will be true champions, given they will have to overcome the best, but also perform across a wide spectrum of conditions!
In the end, if you love your racing close, duking it out with the best in the business, and having an absolute ball, then the Etchells fleet can help you. See www.etchells.org.au for the start of a great sailing journey.
by John Curnow