Dogs off chains or Sheep in the Paddock for Etchells?

When the squalls come through, even the refinery’s stack and flame is hard to find. - 2013 NSW Etchells Championship
John Curnow ©
At the 2013 NSW Etchells State Championship being staged from the Cronulla Sailing Club, this is indeed an interesting question. Is it more a case of dogs being blown of their chains or are the number and size of the sheep in the paddock more of a concern?

This is something that was put to PRO, Andrew McLachlan, this morning. 'Just down at the boat park now and it is wet. I can probably presume that it could not get worse. The wind has even moderated slightly, just now, but there is a lot of rain.'

What Cronulla beach looks like on a rainy day. - 2013 NSW Etchells Championship
John Curnow ©

The lull Andrew was referring to was behind a squall that whited out the area and not even the flame from the refinery at Botany Bay was visible. 'Possibly my worst nightmare at the moment and tomorrow is said to be even worse, with more breeze to come. All week the morning forecast has been better than the afternoon one, which is a real worry. It will be tough yards for race management if we do get out there for racing.'

'I am going out there to look after the briefing at 1000hrs and even if it is 20 knots, we have to be sure that the waves have not hung over from last night and stayed up. Safety is the key to all of this', Andrew finished with.

Originally, there were 37 crews lining up for this 2013 NSW Etchells Championship, but that is now down to 33. Some of those staying away were in Melbourne, where the weather is far more suitable for sailing and racing, at present. The temperature is in the high 20s and the breeze may hit 25knots on Saturday, but spends a lot more time closer to 10 and comes from suitable and convivial directions, at any rate.

AP over A and it is time to either go to the bar or hotel room. - 2013 NSW Etchells Championship
John Curnow ©

Back at the Cronulla Sailing Club, the Answering Pennant went up over Code Flag A at 1115hrs and that was it. Racing was abandoned for the day. Andrew McLachlan commented, 'We modified the minimum requirement to constitute a championship as three races, after a show of hands at the briefing. Four or more races and we’ll have a drop. It will still an achievement to get that many in on Sunday, as they have to be off the water by 1500hrs, in order to hold presentations.'

A lot of sheep in the paddock (whitecaps) for the offshore course. - 2013 NSW Etchells Championship
John Curnow ©

'I did not think there was much point keeping our people here until 1300hrs, when it was all pretty obvious. After being out there, experienced sailor and Cronulla Etchells Fleet Captain, Steve O’Rourke, felt the conditions were worse than what his large Protector RIB was able to handle in comfort, which in itself is bigger than the mark boats.'

'We may have an early start tomorrow, with 1100hrs as an option, Hughie (The God of Wind) permitting! We look forward to tomorrow now, as we have effectively lost three races today', Andrew finished with.

A large and nasty cross swell line was the feature of the ‘inshore’ course at Cronulla. - 2013 NSW Etchells Championship
John Curnow ©

As always at an Etchells regatta, there are many interesting stories bobbing about on or near the surface. Sailing on board Mike Thackray’s Trekka is David Thackray and a certain, 47 Sydney Hobart Race veteran, Tony Ellis, who is doing his first ever Etchells event. Good luck to them all and it is possible Tony would be happy to be out there today, but on something a little more suitable.

As always, a regatta cannot be conducted without the kind and generous support of volunteers and sponsors, so a big thank you to all of them. The latter category has some compelling and handy inclusions. There are 20 Nautica watches to be awarded in various ways and with just 33 vessels racing, you have a pretty good chance to do well out of that. Powerade have provided their product for the crews to enjoy out on the water and Tooheys have put forward complimentary beer for afterwards. North Sails have a new LMH heavy weather headsail, which is their latest design jib, as a mid-fleet prize for the highest place getter. In essence, think of it as the Corinthian prize or encouragement award. Nice going for that crew, you would have thought…

Finally then, Reg Dolden has very kindly put his lovely Halvorsen 50 up for use by the media, with crewman, Gary Ball. We do look forward to being out on her tomorrow. Many thanks. See for more information.
Gary Ball and Reg Dolden demonstrate how to hold up the bar, so that all the sailors can enjoy the sponsor’s product. - 2013 NSW Etchells Championship