Etchells News

Etchells 2018 Australian Championships

Posted January 08, 2018


Day 2 report:

The Fremantle Doctor delivers
Etchells 2018 Australian Championships at Fremantle, WA

As per the forecast, the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ made an appearance on the second day of the 2018 Etchells Australian Championship to provide 32 competitors with the sort of sailing conditions Fremantle is renowned for.
As competitors left the dock this morning it was still a quite genteel 12 - 14 knots from the East but by start time the breeze was already flicking into the S/SW and white waves started to break out.
After a short postponement for a last minute wind shift, PRO Kim Laurence set a 2 lap windward/leeward course using 1.5nm legs out towards Carnac Island. On the second attempt the fleet got away cleanly under U flag and the majority maintained their lane working out towards the left side (inshore) towards Fish Rocks. Almost in sequence the whole fleet tacked onto port streaming in for a packed top mark rounding.
Chris Hampton’s ‘Tango’ from Royal Brighton YC and Peter McNeill’s ‘Iris lll’ from Lake Macquarie YC were early leaders round the top mark. For the first downwind leg the Etchells were beginning to excel surfing down the increasing steep chop.
After a shocking start, overall regatta leader, Graeme Taylor’s ‘Magpie’ from Mornington YC, began making gains into the top six. Also Martin Hill’s, ‘Lisa Rose’ from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, was making good gains.
By the final top mark rounding, Graeme Taylor and his team of James Mayo and Richard Allanson were really stretching their legs pulling well clear of the fleet. Martin Hill and his team, Mark Langford, Julian Plante and Joachim Aschenbrenner also pulled clear in second with the rest fighting over third.
The final run was typical ‘Freo Doctor’ full on screaming with boats recording boat speeds in the region of 15 - 18 knots. As crews rode the waves across the finish line the audible whoops, could clearly be heard from the committee boat.
Graeme Taylor recorded his first win of the regatta to move 5 points clear overall. Martin Hill crossed second to go third overall and Peter Chappell from Royal Freshwater Bay YC in Perth and his local team of Graeme Johnson and Luke Payne sailed an excellent race to record their best result of the regatta a 3rd.
Martin Hill sums up his crews performance;
“We were very pleased today we wanted to be on the left hand side of the course but it was very tough at the start, we had a very good competitor below us who squeezed us a bit but we got up in the top 10 at the first mark and had a reasonable run down. We picked the left gate and went from about 6th to 2nd spot. The boat was going very well upwind and downwind we got the boat up onto the plane but were a little bit nervous because we had a rip in the kite so we had to be a bit careful on starboard tack but fortunately the wind gods were kind to us and we hung in there to the finish so we were very pleased.”
“Look the last leg was fantastic, actually when you get in the fast mode and surfing, it is actually very easy to steer, because you are going so fast the relative wind strength is reduced dramatically, some were saying that boat speeds were getting up to 18 knots so it was very exciting and what we came here for, what the Fremantle Doctor was billed as and the doctor was right on time today.”
Others who had a great race in the windy conditions included Douglas McGain and his crew, Sam Haines and Anthony Nossiter from CYCA in Sydney in ‘Ciao’ who scored their second 4th of the regatta and ‘Marmalade’ sailed by local sailors Gordon and Tom Blaauw and Mark Spearman from RFBYC who finished with their best result of the regatta, a 6th. Michael Manford, Dean McAullay and Nick Gray from RFBYC maintain second overall finishing 5th today.
Peter Chappell explains how he found his pace;
“I managed to get off the start well at the right end, kept a clear lane, got a top 6 around the top mark and held that pretty well. We changed our rig a bit up the second beat and found a few more legs and got back into it. We took about 3 or 4 boats on that long beat and another when we got our kite up. It was all under control down the last run, fortunately the guys up front are really good, no mishaps so it was all easy.”
Despite the heavy conditions there were only two retirements, a few unlucky competitors with gear failure, soldiered on to complete the course. All were back in the club by late lunchtime for an early bath and some good ole fashioned fish n chips at one of Fremantle’s local favourites Cicerellos.

Two more races are scheduled for Thursday with a forecast of 15 - 20 knots.

By Jonny Fullerton on behalf of Swan River Etchells Fleet

Day 1 report:

Conditions are a blast on day one

Etchells 2018 Australian Championships at Fremantle, WA

Day 1 of the 2018 Etchells Australian Championships was a blast, a typical warm summer cloudless day on the waters off Fremantle with three back to back, 2 lap windward/leeward races. The breeze begun in the East at 6 - 8 knots for the first race, then shifted to the South increasing to 15 - 17 knots and finally the sea-breeze threatened with 18 - 19 knots and short sharp waves to provide some great downwind surfing.

Race 1 was a slow start with the whole fleet of 32 boats staying well back from the line. The light breeze did shift gradually right forcing a split in opinion as to the right way to go upwind. Graeme Taylor and his crew on ‘Magpie’ from Mornington YC in Victoria was late to cross the start line but immediately head out on port tack to sniff out the breeze. It seemed to pay as they rounded the first top mark in the lead from Martin Hill’s ‘Lisa Rose’ from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in second and local WA sailor Martin Webster sailing ‘Highlander’ in third.

With the wind clocking right the run became a bit more of a reach to the bottom gate. The two leaders joined by Chris Hampton’s ‘Tango’ from Royal Brighton YC in Victoria and Ray Smith’s ‘St Johns Dance’ from Royal Perth YC, gained ground. The course was changed to accommodate the shifts and whilst the two lead boats covered each other tacking on to starboard tack, the majority of the fleet headed offshore. Martin Hill ‘Lisa Rose’ broke the cover to snatch the lead and glide down to take the first gun of the regatta followed by Graeme Taylor’s ‘Magpie’ with Jeanne-Claude Strong and another talented Sydney crew from RSYS taking places to cross third.

Just before the start of race 2 the wind steadied around 220 degrees and increased to 15 - 17 knots. Most of the fleet changed jibs and adjusted settings for the new conditions. Another clear start with the majority of the fleet heading to the favoured left hand (inshore) side of the race track. Michael Manford sailing ‘The Croc’ and his team from Royal Freshwater Bay YC in Perth were first to round from Graeme Taylor’s ‘Magpie’. The whole fleet surfed downwind as the white caps started making an appearance on the course. The lead places remained the same at the gate although the fleet were very congested at the turn. On the second lap the majority of the fleet again worked the inshore side of the course up to the windward mark off Carnac Island.

The whole fleet were well spread across the course downwind but nobody could catch ‘The Croc’ and Michael Manford and his team chalked their first win of the regatta. Graeme Taylor second again and Queenslander David Turton ‘This Thing is Ours’ on the podium in third.

With the threat of heavy winds on Wednesday, PRO Kim Laurence decided to run a third race as the breeze freshened to 19 - 20 knots and the waves got a bit steeper.

This time the whole fleet were called back twice under U flag until the PRO lost his patience and brought out black. It very nearly caught out a couple of boats but the final attempt was clear.

As per the usual pattern the majority worked the left (inshore) and after a punishing 20 minute upwind leg, Michael Manford and his local team from RFBYC led at the top from Graeme Taylor’s ‘Magpie’. This time the chasing pack included a number of other contenders including Bruce Ferguson’s ‘Whisper ll’ from Royal Prince Alfred YC in Sydney and Chris Hampton’s ‘Tango’ from Royal Brighton YC. Once again David Turton ‘This Thing is Ours’ seemed to enjoy the fresh conditions working into the lead for the last run.

The last run was a real blast with the whole fleet surfing down waves with places changing all the time mid fleet. David Turton scored his first bullet, Michael Manford settling for second and Jeanne-Claude Strong from RSYS again having a great downwind leg to take third.

After 5 hours of racing there were no retirements but a weary bunch of sailors returned to the Royal Perth YC Annexe for refreshments care of Gage Roads and the daily presentations with special guest, Tony Manford, a multiple Etchells and Dragon champion handing out the Paul Nelson wines to the winners. 

The forecast for day 2 (Wednesday) is for heavier winds from early in the morning with a S/SW typical ‘Fremantle Doctor’ building from 20 knots to 30 knots later in the afternoon so it will be on for young and old.

Graeme Taylor skipper of Magpie is pleased with the forecast saying;

“We are looking forward to the forecast of more wind tomorrow, this is what we have come here for, the more breeze the more fun. Bring it on.”

Michael Manford sailing “The Croc” sums up his first day:

“We were pleased with our start to the regatta, the first race was interesting because of the change in the wind, but 6,1,2 is a good start to the regatta.”

“In the second race a couple of false starts and we managed to get a clear leeward end start and had good boat speed and managed to cross the fleet. Once you are in front in an Etchells fleet it’s hard to stay in front but it’s a lot easier than when you are behind.”

“We got another good start at the leeward end in the last race of the day and were second round the top mark and managed to run away downwind to be first round the bottom mark the first time. We got passed by Dave Turton when he got a shift out on the right and we couldn’t catch him but managed to get second.”

“The surfing was excellent, once you got on a wave you could sail by the lee and often stay on it for 20 seconds and make up a whole boat length on a boat that didn’t catch it. It is a very even race track and tomorrow we just have to smash into it and try and get the job done.”

David Turton (This Thing of Ours):

“The first race we were found wanting, we didn’t get off the line at all and the way the breeze changed, it was a one way track downwind. We got ourselves back to the middle which is good.”

“The second race the breeze was in a bit more, we had good solid starts, nice upwinds, nice downwinds and the third race was pretty tight, we went around the top mark with Mike Manford and around the bottom separate marks together and they went left and we went right, but the shift went enough for us to get across his bow and we managed to hold him out downwind.”

“The short steep swell is just plenty of fun, plenty of pressure on the boat, on the chute and lots of bouncing upwind it was a really good test,”

Looking forward to tomorrow;

“Two races in 25 knots thats going to be a blast! Seriously good fun, I hope we get at least one race tomorrow even it is fresh to frightening it makes unreal sailing.”

By Jonny Fullerton on behalf of Swan River Etchells Fleet

Anticipation building on the dockside

images c George Vaskovics

Tension is high as the Etchells fleet cranes in to moor up on the pontoons in Fremantle ahead of an incredibly competitive Etchells Australian Championship. The reason why this event is so significant is the fact that the Etchells fleet will be coming to Australia on a regular basis over the next couple of years. Later this year in October, the Etchells World Championship takes place in Brisbane, Queensland and two years later in November, 2020 the Etchells Worlds will be held on the infamous waters of Fremantle, the very same waters that this regatta will be sailed.

The 2018 Etchells Australian Championship is hosted by Royal Perth YC in conjunction with Royal Freshwater Bay YC and the International Etchells Class Association Swan River Fleet from Tuesday 9 - Friday 12 January.

The significance of the regatta is the reason it has attracted over 30 entries with the majority (21) boats represented by the two WA host clubs however competitors have made the long journey from Sydney, NSW, Melbourne, Victoria and Brisbane, Queensland, (around 3 days across the country by road)!

Another reason competitors are attracted to race in the ocean off Fremantle is the weather conditions. Guaranteed blue skies, warm summer temperatures (Avg 30 degrees this week), and strong winds. The advance forecast for the week is for some moderate to strong early morning breeze, building to some strong afternoon blasts with the infamous ‘Fremantle Doctor’ sea breeze, making regular appearances. The waves can also get quite boisterous providing some great downwind surfing.

The level of competition will be intense with crew members ranging from the 1983 Americas Cup to the more recent Americas Cup in Bermuda, crews from the current Volvo Ocean Race, numerous who have raced the big offshore classics, like the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, past Olympic campaigners, many past keelboat and dinghy world champions and of course past champions in the Etchells class.

There are however also a number of local club sailing teams racing, an all female team and a number of young guns looking to cut their teeth and learn from some of the masters out on the water.

As usual there is a packed social calendar with a selection of local eateries providing typical WA grub and brews supplied by local brewers, Gage Roads and fine wines from Paul Nelson Wines to boost the egos of winning crews and drown the sorrows of those that fall off the back of the waves.

So it will be early to bed for all Etchells competitors in Fremantle tonight and all action on the race course in the morning.

Regatta reports will be sent out daily but check out the link below for more info on the regatta.

By Jonny Fullerton on behalf of Swan River Etchells Fleet