It’s hard to pick who is likely to be in the top five at this year’s Etchells National Championship being held at Southport Yacht Club from 11th to 16th November 2013.
David Clark (876) taking on Matthew Chew (864) on day one of 2013 Mooloolaba Etchells Winters
There are some proven performers in the class and there are one or two dark horses within the 31-boat fleet.
One of the fleet members who is on the cusp of Etchells National Championship stardom is the young Brisbane Gen XY team skippered by Matthew Chew. The team are the current Queensland title holders, winners of the 2012 Etchells Australasian Winter Championship and finished fourth in last year’s national championship, losing out to skippers Michael Manford, John Bertrand and Torvar Mirsky.
Chew’s take on the fleet for this year’s championship is one of significant depth. He has quietly identified a key group of skippers that he expects to be his immediate competition. 'There are the usual suspects like John Bertrand, Cameron Miles, Mark Johnson and Chris Hampton. They are the usual big players. I expect those guys will all fill the top five places overall at the end of the day. And us, of course. That’s my prediction.
'Have I missed anyone ?' Chew said.
What about Peter McNeill the 2004 Etchells World Championship winning skipper and previous NSW State title winner ? 'He definitely should be on the list.'
What about David Clark, 2011/12 national champion and fourth in the 2012 World Championship ? 'Oh yes. He should be there too.'
Then there is the Bootross team skippered by Mark Bradford. 'You would have to add him to the list as well. He’s the dark horse. They haven’t sailed at all together as a team, but they’ve got some very good sailors on that boat. They are going to be ones to watch.
'Noel Drennan is there and he’s another one who will be going pretty well.'
Matthew Chew (864) lined up against Doug McGain (1244) on day two of the 2013 Mooloolaba Etchells Winters
Chew finally counted about 10 or 12 boats that he thinks will probably make up the final top five overall, which equates to about one-third of fleet. Those are very strong numbers for any event, reinforcing the depth of sailing talent that Is drawn to the Etchells class.
All this posturing over the top five is a small distraction for the Gen XY team. They are following an intensive preparation program as they head towards the national championship and their goal.
'We have done a lot of training, more than most people. We have done a lot of racing and training which has put us in good shape.
'We have been working with Mike Fletcher through the Brisbane fleet coaching program and he is personally looking after us, along with another boat, Chris Hampton, for the Nationals as he did for the States.
'We are certainly going down there to win it. That’s been our goal from the outset,' Chew said.
For more event information, visit South Port Yacht Club Website