by Rob Kothe
The first Etchells Winter Championship was conducted in Mooloolaba in 1997 and in the fourteen regattas since there have been fourteen different winners.
Fleet at the mark off Mooloolaba Beach. 2010 Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship
Dave Rose (1997), Russell Coutts (1998), Ian Johnston (1999), Julian Plante (2000), Michael Coxon (2001), Mark Bradford (2002), Cameron Appleton (2003), Grant Wharington (2004), Rob Brown (2005), Cameron Miles (2006), Skip Lissiman (2007), Graeme Taylor (2008), Damien King (2009) and Alistair Gair (2010).
Ahead of the fifteenth annual title which starts next Thursday 9th June 2011, Sail Mooloolaba and Musto Etchells Australasian Championship Event Organiser Tracey Johnstone commented ‘Each year we wonder if one of the past winners might come to the fore.
‘Every year we have another top class fleet . Last year the runner up from the 2006 Fremantle Worlds, Alastair Gair won, in 2009 Damien King, held out the 2008 North American Champion crew Mark Johnson.
‘While we acknowledge that part of the attraction of this event is the good Sunshine Coast winter weather and the popular venue, the quality of the fleet and the hotly contested racing is a major draw card.’
The quality of the fleet is again in June 2011 certainly great, a tribute to a class that has already run a Summer Nationals and that right now we have 15 Australian crews competing in this years World titles San Diego. '
This being the fifteenth regatta, there is one particular boat that could make history this year.
It’s called ‘Fifteen’ named after its Kiwi born skipper Dave Clark’s first boat, a little P Class dinghy he sailed in Auckland as a youngster. Last year Clark from the Sydney Etchells fleet was leading the regatta with 200 metres to go in the final race, in heavy offshore weather conditions, but was beaten across the line and lost on a count back to Alastair Gair.
Dave Clark commented today ‘Last year’s regatta was so close, we were in the lead, right at the death, and it didn’t get any better that that. From our point of view of course it couldn’t any worse. But we were in pretty good company.
'Yes we would like to win, but once again it it’s another fabulous field and just getting anywhere near the top is a great.
'Each boat is allocated a hull number at each regatta; our boat for obvious reasons has been allocated number 15, so we shall see what happens at this fifteenth event. ‘
There are not that many sporting events that get books written about them but this one of them.
'Etchells, Capturing the Spirit’ is a wonderful limited edition book about the people, the place and the competition of the Etchells Australian Winter Championship in Mooloolaba from 2004 through to 2008. Photographer Peter Duncan’s images and Tracey Johnstone’s words capture the spirit of Etchells racing.
Etchells capturing the spirit
2010 Etchells World Champion and America’s Cup winning skipper John Bertrand AM, (who is one of many top class sailors who has not won the Mooloolaba regatta). when he introduced the book, talked about the spirit of the Etchells class and the Mooloolaba Mid-Winters event.
'The Etchells class offers the toughest one-design racing in the country, bar none. The best of the best compete in this class. Any higher and you enter the realms of the fully professional scene; the Olympics or the America’s Cup.
'I’ve competed in the Mid-Winters since the early 90s and I enjoy coming back each year to Mooloolaba. The venue is unique; world-class. Racing conditions on the bay and on the ocean are second to none. Organisation of the regatta is world-class.
‘All of that combines to make the Mid-Winter Championship a must attend regatta for the Etchells.’
The full-colour photo book is now available for $50 and can be purchased by contacting Peter Duncan peter(at)questphoto.net or through Boat Books Australia.
The 15th Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship will be held from June 9th to 12th.
View the list of Etchells Mid-Winters past winners http://www.mooetchells.yachting.org.au/?Page=29959
15th Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship website http://www.mooetchells.yachting.org.au