Etchells Winters Australasian titles – Will history be made?

Chopping up at the clearing mark - Etchells Australasian Winter Titles 2013
Amanda Spottiswoode
Etchells Winters Australasian titles second day of racing was a sensational day on the water with defending champion Matthew Chew winning race three in the regatta from leader Hong Kong sailor Mark Thornburrow. Then Thornburrow was sensationally black flagged in the fourth race and he and his crew were sent home. The 2013 Etchells Winter Australasian titles leader board, after four races, now has Matthew Chew, the 2012 winner at the top, next is Tom King the 2011 winner, Dave Clark is in third and fourth is the 2001 winner Michael Coxon. After sixteen regattas, no skipper has won twice, so the raw numbers would suggest there is a 75% chance that history will be made tomorrow. Thornburrow, campaigning hard with dual Gold Medal Olympian Malcom Page aboard, plummeted to 11th place on the leaderboard. If the weather gods cooperate and they have two races tomorrow after the drop they will be back in contention. Here is how the day unfolded… Race three got underway in sunshine and 14 knots with course heading 165 at 1.7 miles. It was a Course Two which was two windward leeward legs. The fleet got off with a clean start. Tom King went right quite early. Mark Thornburrow and John Bertrand led the fleet to the left and then arrived in that order at the top mark, but Bertrand infringed inside three boat lengths and had to do two penalty turns. He dropped about seven places. At the clearing mark Thornburrow led King. Third was Chew, ahead of Peter Merrington, Roger Hickman, Patrick Largier and Douglas McGain. Down the run Thornburrow was leading right almost to the left hand pin but Chew managed to gybe in front of him and beat him around half a length. At the top mark for the second time, Chew had cleared away from Thornburrow. At the finish of race three Chew was about three boat lengths ahead of Thornburrow then another two to McGain and King. Bertrand was well back in the fleet. Today’s infringement inside three lengths of the top mark has probably cost him any chances of winning this regatta. Thornburrow after race three was consolidated atop the leaderboard. Race four, the second race of the day, started with a heading of 160, wind at 14-16 knots. After two general recalls the PRO, Ross Wilson, put up the black flag. Guyon Wilson, Gregory Forgan-Smith, Stephen O'Rouke and Mark Thornburrow were black flagged, sent on their way home. At the first top mark Bertrand was leading Clark, then David Rose, Michael Coxon, James Chilman, Cameron Miles and King. At the bottom mark for the first time was Bertrand, followed by Clark, Coxon, King, and those positions were unchanged at the top of the course. Bertrand took the gun, Coxon was second, King third followed by Clark. Winter Australasian champion Matthew Chew, atop the leader board was upbeat. ‘We have had a really good day today. We didn’t sail a drop race which was really important and in our first race we were fourth to the top mark and we led at the bottom and held on for a good win. ‘In the last race we were unlucky. The right hand boats got us and we were about 30th to the top mark and we finished eighth. The guys go really well when we are behind and we sailed through the fleet really well today, with plenty of speed. ‘Tomorrow there is more breeze. It was windy when we won last year so we are waiting for the wind so bring it on.’ The 2012 Etchells World Champion Tom King is just a point behind Chew. He and his Iron Lotus crew enjoyed the day. ‘It was great racing. We finished fourth in the morning race and in the last race we went across the finish line overlapped with the guys who were second, third and fourth so it was awesome. ‘Matty Chew is having a great regatta, but we surf well and we are looking forward to more breeze and some big waves tomorrow.’ Dave Clark is four points behind King. ‘We shouldn’t be unhappy but didn’t do a particularly good job of the last part of the last race and lost places, mind you we did the reverse in the morning race. We are chipping away along with Cocko. Tomorrow is game on. It is going to be fun in the breeze.’ Michael Coxon, ‘We had a great day. I started badly in both races unfortunately but we are going well and the boys did a great job of picking the shifts. You have got to earn every point I can tell you. There are a lot of guys sailing well out there and it is a beautiful race track.’ John Bertrand, ’I made a fundamental error in the first race, we were going round the third to the top mark. I miscalculated and tacked too close to the other boat, within the three boat length rules. It was two turns. Deadly. In the vacuum of 20 other boats. That’s yacht racing and old blokes have just got to relearn these things from time to time. ‘We had a good start in the second race and led from the top mark but just boat lengths between us. One design racing at its best. Two races tomorrow. Let’s see what happens.’ And so shall we all. More information, results and news at