Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

Fitting finale at the Etchells Australian Championship

by John Curnow on 16 Nov 2013
Men at Work, John Bertrand, Andrew Grant Simmer and Andrew Palfrey competing in last year’s Etchells National Championship in West Australia Bernie Kaaks
In the very year that Australia marks the passage of 30 years since a group of dedicated sailors changed the course of sporting history, and as celebrations for the Etchells 40th anniversary draw to an end, it seems terribly fitting that the two should be inexorably linked.

The 2013-14 Australian Etchells Australian Champions are Australia II’s John ‘JB’ Bertrand AO and Grant ‘Grunter’ Simmer. The third crewmember, Andrew ‘Dog’ Palfrey is a tad younger, and like the rest of us, had to watch it all unfold on TV. This year’s title takes Bertrand’s personal tally to seven (and also one World Championship) in the class he fell in love with nearly twenty years ago. Talking of World Championships, this very crew are known to have a wee penchant for the 2014 title, which is to be staged in none other than Newport R.I., as if you could not have seen that coming…

The man himself commented, ‘Of the five Doggy and I have sailed together, we now have four titles and a second place. This regatta did have a set of consistent results, which is great. I’m going to keep one SMS on my iPhone, as it came from Tom (Slingsby). He said, ‘Awesome guys! That’s the most impressive scorecard I’ve ever seen in an Etchells Nationals. Really impressed. Well Done!’ What an accolade from our Olympic Gold Medallist’, said a truly humbled Bertrand.


‘We saw 9 to 18 knots over the course of the regatta, so it was really just medium to fresher. All in all, we enjoyed quintessential champagne conditions offshore of the Gold Coast. What was worth noting was how close it was not only at the top mark, but also the bottom and then the finish. All of us (JB, Grunter and Doggy) commented on the high level and refined racing that this regatta just kept on providing.’

‘One crew from lake Macquarie commented that all the bastards up front are World Champions, Olympians or America’s Cup veterans. For us the fleet sure was stacked with great talent and it was just awesome to be out there with terrific people to race against. Peter ‘Polly’ McNeill (former World Champion) has come from nowhere. What a great job to come back so strongly!’


‘We’re running a North Sails main and Doyle jibs, with a combination for our ‘chutes, as a result of having a look at what Jud Smith has been up to. This was our preparation for the 2014 Worlds – we’re all very keen to do it. My next regatta will be the Victorian State Championship at Metung (7 to 10 Mar 2014), which I think will be big and then Triad will be shipped off to Newport.’

‘The fleet may have been a bit smaller because of the time of year as we all head in to Christmas, but the decision to run it now was based on the weather. January and February can be a bit mushy and there are the conditions over the bar to look at. We were missing the likes of Graeme ‘GT’ Taylor and Tom Slingsby who could just not make it, but did not feel like it when you were racing out there. If it was January, it would have easily been 50+ Etchells.’

‘The boats may be classed as vintage, but there is still something in it. They are so refined in the tuning. We’re down to one turn on the lower and I have never been at that level of gradation between fast and slow. It was all about drag racing, boat speed and boat handling, not massive wind shifts. Seven knots uphill may not be huge, but it really is quite intense.’


‘Handling the swell and chop was where you got your refinement. You know, Rafa (Spanish Olympian, Rafael Trujillo Villar) loves the Etchells and he’s raced so many boats. You’re crossing others by 20 to 30 cm, which is just amazing. There are lots of yachting luminaries really looking at Etchells once more because of what they are. True One Design. It is a different world, but it contains the best there is on offer’, Bertrand finished by saying.

Another person very happy with the overall outcome is Etchells Class President, Jake Gunther. Catching up with him in the first light of day he commented, ‘At 0530hrs there is plenty to see. What a great location! This may well be the most under-utilised location we’ve ever seen for a World Championship. All you need to do is manage the time of year and the tides and away you go. Well done to the Southport Yacht Club, the Etchells Gold Coast Fleet, Race management and all those volunteers!’

‘Throughout the regatta everybody was gunning for the best spot possible. Where we all finish up is important in light of our goals for coming here in the first place. One of our main objectives is always to be the first of the non-pro, non-Olympian and non-World champ crews. We’ve had a third and fifth in previous World Championship campaigns and this particular fleet is something else. All our results are sort of sixth to ninth place, but there is something in understanding the track.’


‘We have been within a boat length of Mark Johnston for most of this, and he was on top after day one. My crew of John Collingwood, Stuart Skeggs and I do a lot of two-boating with David Clark and there is some serious talent on board there, as there was throughout the entire top end. Mark had Nik Burfoot and Rafa Trujilo Villar on board. Rafa has not only represented Spain at the Olympics (2000, 2004 and 2008), he medalled, too, with a Silver in the Finn at Athens. To get over the top of them on the last day is a delight and shows how in Etchells, every single place counts’, said Gunther.

The other and virtually as important prize on offer at the Etchells Australian Championship is the North Sails jib. This is awarded to the mid-fleet vessel and apart from anything else, acts as a sort of encouragement award. Winning this fantastic prize for 2013-14 is Jeanne-Claude Strong and the crew of Yandoo XX, which consists of Nev Whittey, Marcus Burke and Tiana Whittey. Strong said of the win, ‘Bit of a surprise and rather nice. We’ve been a Doyles boat to date. I was talking with Richie Allanson just before and we’re certainly happy to try this new medium job out - looking forward to trying something different!’

‘First is always the best, but there’s a 10th, 11th and 12th in amongst our results, which is a real credit to the crew. Can I tell you that this is a lovely location, with great people, awesome conditions. We’re just delighted to be here with such a wonderful collection of sailors’, Strong finished by saying.

So that’s it. The last bullet has been fired, so to speak, on another terrific Etchells Australian Championship. Whether you’re first or 31st, the challenge remains with you as a crew of sailors. To begin your Etchells journey, go to http://www.etchells.org.au/ and locate a fleet near you. One Design does not get better.


Mondo Travel - Americas Cup - 5785Pantaenius - Fixed ValuePredictWind.com 2014

Related Articles

New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
Securely moored to the quay, or cast adrift?
With boating, you have to cast the lines off in order to go and get into it. With boating, you have to cast the lines off in order to go and get into it. However, when it comes to your insurer, you kind of expect that they’re going to be as bound to you as the standing rigging is to the mast, the ring frames to the hull, or the engine mounts to the runners, and the propellers to the shafts, skegs and cutlass bearings. Whom would you rather be insured with?
Posted on 15 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar
So what’s it really like?
For ages now, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and 24-hour runs For ages now, well it seems like that anyway, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and incredible 24-hour runs. In their own very unique way they totally represent the technical avant-garde, and thank God for that. Where would we be without their impressive shapes, wonderful rigs, and now of course, foiling magic.
Posted on 6 Mar
JJ Giltinan 18ft - Kiwi Champion the subject of two protests in Sydney
Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings on Friday Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings Friday morning in Sydney. She faces two claims - both from Appliancesonline (David Witt). The first is an attempt to re-open the Hearing held on Wednesday morning after Yamaha was suffered damage in Race 3 as a result of a collision with a give way yacht, and Yamaha received redress of average
Posted on 3 Mar
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb
America's Cup - Kiwis sign Olympic Cyclist for the Tour de Bermuda
Ttop cyclist Simon van Velthooven, a 2012 Olympic Bronze cycling medallist had been signed by the America's Cup team Emirates Team New Zealand put in a second foiling display on Auckland's Waitemata harbour ahead of the official launching of their AC50 tomorrow. With brighter skies the cycling team took their places on the pedalstals and used leg power to provide the hydraulic pressure necessary to run the AC50's control systems for the foils and wingsail.
Posted on 15 Feb
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Sydney Hobart Race-Dark and stormy, well because it is Dark and Stormy
Proving that there is a lighter side to the frustrations that is a race to Hobart Well it is now dark and the rain 'storms' have passed, but proving that there is a lighter side to the frustrations that is a race to Hobart, the custom Murray 37, Dark & Stormy had a wonderful exchange on the radio. Quite possibly it was co-owner and Navigator Terry Courts on the VHF in the super-frank exchange with Hobart Race Control at around 1928hrs on 29/12/16.
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Wicked
ather and Son outfit, Wicked, are Matt and Mark Welsh from Melbourne. Matt is at home on the couch after knee surgery Father and Son outfit, Wicked, are Matt and Mark Welsh from Melbourne. Matt is at home on the couch after knee surgery, but Mark is out on the water, approaching Hobart. From on board he said, 'Amazing race. Barely any windward work. Just does not get better than this. Bit of gear damage cost us early, and we had to sail a little conservatively.'
Posted on 29 Dec 2016