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Highlander (Martin Webster, Robbie Gibbs, Will Boulden and Zoe Thomson) on the run to the leeward gate. - photo © Mitchell Pearson / SurfSailKite
Highlander (Martin Webster, Robbie Gibbs, Will Boulden and Zoe Thomson) on the run to the leeward gate. - photo © Mitchell Pearson / SurfSailKite

Etchells World Championship 2018

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.”

Race Two winner – Tango (Chris Hampton, Charlie Cumbley and Sam Haines). - photo © Kylie Wilson / www.positiveimage.com.au

Race Two winner – Tango (Chris Hampton, Charlie Cumbley and Sam Haines). – photo © Kylie Wilson / www.positiveimage.com.au

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.

by John Curnow

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