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Star gazing at Victorian Etchells Championship

by John Curnow on 6 Mar 2013
Having a great time is a key part of the Etchells experience. - Entire 2013 Etchells Victorian State Championship Alex McKinnon © http://www.alexmckinnonphotography.com
With the Etchells Australian and NSW Championships now complete, the next item up on the calendar is the Entire 2103 Etchells Victorian Championship. To be staged from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) from 9-11 inclusive, a quick glance down the register reveals that the stars will be definitely be out in the sunshine.

Leading that cavalcade of sailing greats will be none other than the Chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, John Bertrand, AM. For this regatta John, or JB as he is affectionately known, will have Bill Browne and Jake Newman as crew. 'Billy has sailed with me to win two Etchells Australian Championships in the past and Jake is a hot young sailor from Geelong, Victoria', said Bertrand.


Bertrand often does not dominate the scoreboard early, but by the day of reckoning this former Etchells World Champion is always a threat and makes his run for a place on the podium come presentation time. 'We're looking forward to the regatta. The weather forecast is great, with 8-12 knots for the long weekend. Up to weight and ready to go', he added.

Another accomplished outfit to be racing over the Labour Day weekend are Class President, Jake Gunther, with his crew of John Collingwood and Ben Solly. Their vessel, Dawn Raid, has some new sails and new mast in preparation for their attack on the impending Etchells World Championship in Italy, this June. 'Unfortunately, we could not get to Cronulla last weekend, but just look at the quality fleet that will be racing off Brighton this weekend. It is going to be a tough regatta to win, but what fantastic preparation it will be for the Worlds in Rosignano', commented Gunther.


There are certainly stars aboard Magpie. Graeme Taylor and Steve Jarvin are world-renowned big boat specialists, as well as having more than enough credits to their names in Etchells. The third member of this crew, that simply had incredible boat speed at the end of last weekend’s Etchells NSW State Championship, is Noel Drennan from North Sails Melbourne. Nicknamed Nitro, this master of round the world ocean racing and America’s Cup events was second in the Worlds in San Diego in 2011, so you can be he will be keen motivate this crew to go one better in Italy. 'Looks like similar conditions to that which we expect in Rosignano – 8 to 12knots and flat water, so we could not be happier', commented Drennan.

Making the trip down the Hume Highway for this regatta is David Clark with Mike Hughes and Rob Scrivenor. They were third at Cronulla last weekend and this crew of quiet achievers not only sail well, but are always thinking of ways to improve, so look out for, Fifteen, to be featuring as the results come in.

Barry, so named because it was the most non-sailing name they could come up with when they christened the boat, are Damien King, Tom King, Mark Bradford and Simon Cunnington. A group of friends, they sail with determination and have twice placed in the top three at World Championships. This is most notable, for they often take away the Corinthian title, which is awarded to the highest placed all-amateur crew. Returning after a little break, you could think that they will be even fresher, so could it well be their regatta? Time will tell…

Brendon and Brian Jukes’ craft, the Jukes of Hazzard, will have Matthias Houvenagel and Nigel Jones on board. A distinguished offshore helmsman and record holder in his own right, the latter is also a quality tactician, so if they have their game plan organised correctly, this four-man crew could easily do well.

Ian Crisp bought one of the first hulls from the new Australian Association moulds and has had some success with, That’s Life, since then. Chris Hampton with Tango is another who should put a string of decent results together and one crew that did that in Metung recently were Peter Coleman, Wayne Dixon and Iain Gartley on, Should’a Gone Left. They will be hoping they pick the right, as in correct, side of the course as racing unfolds and thereby repeat their success.

Another legend of the sport is Ross Lloyd who will be sailing with Matthew Turner and Peter Dowdney. They are certainly capable of generating good boat speed, but the regatta may well be decided by those that have the experience with the local conditions, where soft Northerlies and shifty Easterlies could well play a huge feature. No matter whether these come to pass or true sea breezes hold sway during racing, this crew have the nous to do well.
Two weekends ago, a fleet of Etchells had a pre-cursor regatta with Jake Gunther being victorious by two points in the four race series over Noel Drennan and then Ian Crisp. Peter Coleman was fourth, with Chris Hampton and Ross Lloyd left to ponder what might have been, after jumping the start of the first race and collecting maximum points for being On Course Side.

'We’re excited to see just on 30 Etchells get set to see who will be the new Victorian Champion. The weather is looking simply great, and we would like to extend a big welcome to all visitors and spectators. Please the clubhouse as a base, and we’ll have full service at the club for your refreshments and the like', said RBYC general Manager, Eric Wegman.

The 2013 Etchells Victorian State Championship is brought to you by Entire, the fire services, air conditioning and engineering group. See etchells.org.au and rbyc.org.au for more information.

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