by Bronwen Ince
More than 50 Etchell sailors will converge in Southport this summer with the staging of the 2013/ 2014 Etchells Australian Titles. The event is expected to be one of the largest Etchells National Titles in recent years with Southport Yacht Club becoming a new venue for the Etchells in its national circuit.
2012 QLD States Etchells Fleet
With the famous Gold Coast tourist amenity, predictable weather and superb sailing conditions suiting sailors and spectators alike it is expected that there will be increased level of competition. Sailors and their families are expected to be converging from across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Recent World and Australian Champions will be competing in a class well known for attracting Olympic medallists and some of the best high profile sailors in the world.
Set to take place between Monday 11th and Saturday 16th November, 2013 the event will also be celebrating 40 years of the Etchells class in Australia,.
2012 QLD States Etchells Fleet of the Gold Coast Shoreline
The Gold Coast hosts a small fleet that sail regularly in the Broadwater and off-shore. It is currently based at Southport Yacht Club’s marina facilities at Hollywell but it wasn’t always the case.
The Gold Coast long suffered a dangerous bar access to the open ocean that was relieved in 1986 when a large all weather seaway and a world first sand bypass system was completed. Keen Dragon sailors in the Club wanted to sail off-shore but recognized the need for a more sea worthy design that was affordable and likely to gain the support of the authorities for off-shore racing.
Protracted discussion ended when George Rose moved to the Coast praising the qualities of the Etchells that he had been sailing in the Botany Bay Fleet. A gang of four formed when Mal Wood, Wyn Treasure and Don Wright joined George and each bought an Etchells. All were good dragon sailors so they fitted into the Etchells nicely enjoying the speed, reduced maintenance and dryness.
The marine safety authority allowed them to race off-shore provided they carried an outboard motor of 4hp and a VHF radio – and no rescue boats - how things have changed!
In 1991 – 92 the Etchells moved to Hollywell as the Club had leased their hardstand to the One Australia syndicate as a base from which to train and develop their Americas Cup campaign. The crane was relocated to SYC Hollywell after the Club received a grant from the Qld Gaming Fund, courtesy of Jupiter’s Casino. This allowed the construction of a new launching marina, hardstand and the purchase of six Lasers and two Elliot 5.9s for youth training.
2012 QLD States Etchells Fleet at SYC
By 1997 all Etchells had been sold or stored in the woods when 'Manly Express' originally owned/sailed by Brisbane’s Noel Patterson, Graham Early and Graham Sneasby appeared at Hollywell. It’s sailing on the Broadwater attracted interest and a new fleet grew, mainly from the fleet that was dying in Cairns.
Hollywell SYC now stores 10 Etchells that maintain a high participation rate in various forms of mixed fleet and Etchells racing.The Fleet has hosted a number of offshore Etchells events including the popular Indy Regattas (that corresponded with the Indy Car racing events), a few Queensland championships and now the prestigious National Championships.
Southport Yacht Club’s Main Beach Clubhouse will be transformed for a week of fun on water and on shore. Members of the public are welcomed and are invited to join the sailors in celebrating this great event.