Etchells Pre-Nationals conclude in light weather
by Bernie Kaaks on 8 Jan 2013
Day 3 of the Syd Corser Etchells Regatta (the Pre-Nationals) being sailed out of the Royal Perth Yacht Club Fremantle Annexe, started where day two left off – the promise of breeze to come, but no delivery!
The Race Committee ventured half way to Africa in search of breeze (well, as far as the Kwinana deepwater channel), and set a course on 020 degrees in very light conditions under grey, cloudy skies, with the threat of rain about and very high humidity.
The attempt at a start turned futile as pressure continued to drop and the AP was hoisted in the final minute before the start to end the misery.
A change of breeze to the south east followed, so the committee boat was relocated much closer to shore, a course was set up on 130 degrees and at 12:20 the starting sequence began. Alas, within the final minute, a big shift to the right would have made it possible for the fleet to reach the top mark without needing to tack. Once again, the AP halted proceedings and once again, the course was reset.
At 1300 the warning signal was displayed for the fourth time, this time on a course of 200 degrees with reasonably steady breeze at around 5 knots. A further delay was initiated by the sailors themselves. John Greeve led out well early, sucked those around him over the line as well, and so the fleet faced a general recall. Finally, under a black flag, race 4 of the series began.
Michael Manford, starting near the pin end, saw an opportunity early and crossed the fleet on port to set up a handy lead and worked his way up the centre of the course, along with five or six others. The remainder made the commitment to go to the corners, and although the port tackers came out slightly better than those who took the long leg on starboard, both groups lost ground on those who worked the shifts down the middle.
At the first top mark, Manford enjoyed a narrow lead over John Bertrand and Matthew Chew, with Raymond Smith, David Healey and Torvar Mirsky all reasonably placed.
At the top mark the second time, Manford had extended his lead but the group behind him had bunched up, making for an exciting final leg to the downwind finish line.
Manford won well, ahead of Bertrand, followed by Chew, Healey, and Mirsky, who consolidated his place at the head of the leaderboard by finishing one place ahead of Thornburrow.
After his promising finish in race 4, Bertrand was involved in a start line collision, exonerated with a penalty turn and found himself at the back of the fleet in light winds, very hot weather, and virtually no way out.
Having already missed the first day of the regatta, they elected to retire. He was joined by Michael Manford, who was also well back in the early part of the race.
Peter Chappell, Torvar Mirsky and Alistair McMichael all began well, taking out the podium places in race 5. With the breeze now almost non-existent, the race committee wisely decided to pull up stumps and declare the regatta finished.
His second place therefore cemented Torvar Mirsky’s boat Chilli Plum in top spot on the table and he becomes the new Syd Corser Regatta Champion with a total of nine points.
The minor places were filled by Hong Kong sailor Mark Thornburrow (Racer X) on 14 points and Peter Chappell (1382) on 15.
Tomorrow is a rest and registration day for the National Championship, which begins on Wednesday.