Etchells World Championship competitors head for Sydney

Etchells Worlds 2012, entrants start to arrive at RSYS with a sparkling Sydney Harbour in background.
Tracey Johnstone
The Etchells are on the move to Sydney (Australia) as they preapre themselves for the start of the Etchells World Championship 2012 with competition getting underway on Monday 20th February.

Regatta Director David Sturrock said his team of 91 volunteers has commenced the regatta registration process as the crews and their boats arrived by road and water at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, which is celebrating its Sesquicentenary year.

Typically, the sailors are arriving slowly, leaving a lot of their on-land organisation to the last minute. However, there are several teams out on Sydney Harbour and on the offshore course tuning and testing in readiness for the first race.

The long range forecast is showing a southerly change coming through on Sunday and Monday. The maps show the front building, but Sturrock said 'we are not taking this too seriously at the moment.'

Many of the boats are moving south from Pittwater where they were competing in the National Championship. Of the 74-boat fleet expected for the World Championship, 49 of them competed in the National Championship.

Most of the skippers were pleased to be able to use the Nationals as a pre-Worlds event, practicing their offshore racing skills. British skipper James Howells, who was placed fourth in the 2007 Etchells World Championship, spoke highly of the value of the pre-Worlds to his team.

Etchells Worlds 2012, Regatta Director David Sturrock has his hands full overseeing the arrival of the 74 competing boats and crews
Tracey Johnstone

'I’m glad we came out here early. Sailing the conditions we had here with quite light winds and fairly long rollers, compared to what we have in the UK, has been a big learning curve. We have found it quite tricky at times. I think there are some other guys coming out who haven’t done this event who are going to have to get some practice in before the Worlds start.

'The sailing has been very, very tough due to both the conditions and the level of the competition. If you had a bad start and you were in an area of the course where things weren’t going right or you were against a shift, these guys are so good, it’s tricky to get back. The standard of competition here was great,' Howells said on the last day of the National Championship.

Hong Kong skipper Mark Thornburrow agreed with Howells comments on the value of racing in the pre-Worlds event. 'We haven’t sailed much together over the last six months and we needed a lot of practice together before the Worlds.'

These competitors now need to prepare themselves for a different offshore course with the World Championship race course located off Sydney Heads. Racing will be north on the Manly Circle or south on the Macquarie Circle. Six races are required to constitute the series with a total of nine races scheduled.

All crews weigh-in on Sunday 19th and then again on Thursday 23rd. The target is no more than 285 kilos per crew whether it is a three-man or four-man team. A quick visit to the local sauna on Sunday may be on the cards for some, even after being given the opportunity to test weigh-in during the three registration days.

A practice race has been scheduled for 1330 hours for the same day.

As the boats arrive at Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron they are starting to make an impressive sight, lined up along the pontoon in front of the Squadron with Sydney Harbour providing a sparkling background.

The full entry list is on the event website.

The Etchells World Championship is sponsored by Telstra, Oatley Wines, Nautica Watches, Gill, North Sails, Barz Sunglasses, Hamburg SUD, Jackson Shipping, PredictWind and Yachting NSW Boat Insurance.