The first race on Day 1 of the Etchells Australiasian Winter Titles got underway in 5 to 6 knots of breeze. The course the top mark is near Alexandra Headland, which is Point Cartwright, and is about 140 to 165 pre start, south east.
Down-wind Australasian Winter Championships
Steve Jarvin, aka Mothy, is not sailing at this regatta, but told North Star skipper Michael Coxon that looking at the fields it would be harder to win in Mooloolaba this year than in the Worlds in Italy. Now that might be a Mothism but it is a measure of the quality of the fleet which is certainly up there and includes multiple world champions and Olympic gold medallists.
Up to the start line, which was relaid because the wind shifted a little bit, Perfect Balance, skippered by Mark Bulka, was on the pin. They are very pin biased. Cameron Miles on The Whole Way is next. Well advanced. Tom King, Iron Lotus, was the third boat up and probably leading the fleet. Then Cia, Douglas McGain, was well placed. The bulk of the fleet was down the pin of the course. It was quite soft off the start line.
Then the fleet spilt with half going down to the right towards Alexandra healdland. Because of the wind shift at 150 they are going further to sea than normally expected. They are not going down to the Point but further out to the course.
As Tom King came in from his tack he was crossing most of the fleet. He looked like he was across the entire fleet. In about the middle of the course he tacked back up towards the top mark.
Dave Clark was first round the top mark with his blue spinnaker up. John Bertrand was in about fifth. Matthew Chew next. Outside him was Tom King. Peter Merrington came through over taking boats. The fleet was quite close together.
The breeze was up, around 7 to 8 knots. Perfect blue skies. Heading down the run the fleet was remarkably close.
Fifteen was first around on the right hand mark, followed by Mark Thornborough. John Bertrand was first around the left hand mark followed by Matthew Chew who just turned inside Tom King.
All the expected top guys are where they should be after that fairly soft run and head back up the course for their second beat.
Mark roundings at the first bottom mark were:
Le Grand Coq
Malcolm Blom, skippering On A Mission, retired at the first bottom mark possibly due to a gear issue.
As the fleet hoisted spinnackers, setting sail for home, David Clark was ahead of John Warlow with Mark Thornborrow about a length back. In fourth was Matthew Chew followed by John Bertrand about a length and a half back and TTom King about half a length behind. Mark Thornborrow was fighting for second place. Certainly this race has gone to David Clark.
Conditions increased up to about 8 to 10 knots at the top mark. A perfect postcard sailing day at Mooloolaba.
Half way down the run Dave Clark was still holding a good lead. The group behind were battling hard and looking for position changes. Racer X slipped into second place. Anyone out of the group of about ten boats, behind the leader, could take the balance of the podium places in this race.
Conditions at the bottom of the course towards the finish line were softer. Down to about 7 knots. A glorious race. A light wind day but will get heavier over the next two days which will certainly give the fleet a bit of everything.
Provisional Results after Race 1:
Le Grande Coq
It was a clear start for race two which got underway in 9 to 11 knots of perfect sailing breeze. The course heading is 135, a course one which has an extra leg.
John Bertrand was coming up to the start almost over but he dipped back down to the line to avoid being over it early. The bulk of the fleet was down towards the pin.
At the top mark it was Gary Smith on Tusk just ahead of Cameron Miles on The Hole Way. A boat length back was John Warlow followed by Michael Coxon, Matthew Chew, Dirk Van Der Stuyf, Tom King, Mark Thornborrow then Ross Lloyd and Guyon Wilson. John Bertrand was buried back mid fleet after having a dip at the start. The fleet is now heading down the first run. It is a much closer fleet this time, bunched up. About 8 knots at the top mark.
John Warlow, Gary Smith, and Tom King went round the bottom mark to the right. Michael Coxon and Cameron Miles bringing her kite right to the mark then Matthew Chew on the left. Mark Thornborrow on the right then Dirk Van Der Str on the left with 04 and 31. Bertrand is sailing what he hopes will be his drop, buried about 18th in the fleet. The fleet are tacking up the course on their second beat and when they reach the top mark they will have another complete lap to go.
The fleet are heading down the run in 7 to 8 knots. John Warlow continues to lead, four lengths ahead of Mark Thornborrow. Another two boats length back is Michael Coxon, with Tom King right on his stern. Another boat length back is Cameron Miles. Then Gary Smith o Tusk, the boat that led at the first mark, is a further two boat lengths back and then there is quite a big gap, of 8 to 10 boat lengths, to the rest of the fleet.
More news as it comes in live from our reporter on the water in Mooloolaba...