Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

The big prize at the Etchells Australian Championship

by John Curnow on 14 Nov 2013
Etchells Association President, Jake Gunther, helming Dawn Raid. - Entire 2013 Etchells Victorian State Championship Alex McKinnon http://www.alexmckinnonphotography.com
It seems there is a lot of attention paid by all sailors at the 2013-14 Etchells Australian Championship to getting a bullet. Now whilst only one crew will achieve that particular prize, it would seem that all sailors are getting something very much just as valuable, if not as immediately identifiable – knowledge wrapped up in a blanket of good times.

Class President, Jake Gunther elaborated further. ‘Personally, we are happy to be in the mix, but like everyone, we’re so excited to be in amongst a fleet like this. A collection of crews that is quite heavily laden with AC, VOR and World Champion legends. To be here and actually see how well the sailing is going is quite something. The standard is awesome – in fact Etchells is the standard! The Melges had like five boats and the SB20s only got 11 out on the water for their nationals.’

‘Etchells are all really true One Design. The hulls may well be of different ages, so it simply comes down to who’s on top of their game. All the sailors are telling me how much they’re learning about their sailing and getting tips from others and then seeing improvements in their racing and also the scoreboard. We’re lucky that it is an ‘open’ fleet and knowledge is being shared. John Bertrand (current leader) is here chatting away to those who just ask him question. This is great stuff and tremendous for the Class and our sport.’

‘A lot of the crews from my home fleet in Melbourne (Brighton) have spoken about how wonderful it is to get some cracking racing in. This is happening all the way through the fleet, irrespective of where they might place. I’ve seen them learn tips like easing the mainsheet in certain conditions and then watch the boat fly off. Etchells are a hard school, but a good school’, Gunther finished with.


Now they have seen many a nautical mile, but always have an open mind. Peter Coleman, Wayne Dixon and Iain Gartley from Should’a Gone Left were yesterday saying to themselves that should’a gone home! ‘We’re going stay after today’s effort. Yesterday we were walking away from sailing all together. It is such a who’s who here at the nationals and what a buzz to be around all these legends.’

‘We’re really happy with today’s 10th place and that’s why Hughie is giving us a thunder and lightning show right now. It is very much a good bit of fun and nice to sail in the warm weather. It’s up there with the famous hard bar (under the Etchells parked on the hardstand at the end of Brighton Pier in Melbourne). As an example of the hilarity ashore, there are a lot of people talking about how Noel ‘Nitro’ Drennan of North Sails Melbourne is trying to win the mid-fleet prize of the North Sails jib after his 16th place today.’

‘Seriously though, über-sailors like Grant Simmer, Andrew ‘Doggy’ Palfrey, Jake Gunther and Nitro himself have made a lot of time to help us and we’re very appreciative’, said Coleman.

‘PRO Kevin Wilson and his team doing a great job out on the track, so we’re really enjoying it all immensely. Special mention to Kelvin Holdt from the Southport Yacht Club. He’s an amazing person and has everything taken care of. He’s organising it and sailing in it on Funky Cold Medina - so much energy. Kelvin does look after everyone, so it is no wonder we all want to take him home to our respective clubs.’


Jeanne-Claude Strong has bought her Yandoo XX to the Gold Coast, along with regular crew of Nev Whittey, Marcus Burke and Tiana Whittey. As such, it makes her the only female driver out there this time. ‘I am really happy to see many boats with two girls on board, just as we have Tiana and myself.’

With a 10th, 11th and 12th place amongst her credits, Yandoo XX sits in 14th place overall tonight. ‘I would love a win, but it’s hard with this lot. We’re in there trying – I tell you!’


‘Fabulous conditions, although today was a bit tougher with shifts and then the light and variable got the better of it. Really enjoying it all, however.’

A self-deprecating Strong added, ‘Boat on boat we’re happy. Maybe we could get some better starts – I’m blonde and female, so I suppose I could concentrate better. We do keep on trying to look for clean air, so cheers to Nev for all his tactics, as well as Marcus and Tiana for their great efforts. We work well together as a whole crew and are a quiet boat – mostly. We had a super close call on whilst on starboard at the bottom mark yesterday – that got us fired up a bit, but you do get that in one of these fleets. We stood to lose the rig and also get holed, so delighted that did not come to pass.’ To make amends for the last time Tiana was at a regatta, this scribe would like to mention her name again, so that her school friends do indeed know she is at a sporting event and not skylarking.


‘We are absolutely keen to earn one of those famous bullets – it’s a fairly attractive item. Mick Doohan (multiple 500cc World Champion) is a friend and he always reminds me that second is the first of the losers. Harsh perhaps, but I do use it as motivation out there’, Jeanne-Claude finished by saying.


Catching PRO Kevin Wilson after the day’s racing, we got to learn that, ‘The racetrack is down off Marina Mirage, about 2nm South of the sea-lane. We had lumpy seas for the first two days and not so much today. Tuesday produced a big swell and cross wave, whereas yesterday offered up a 2m swell with no chop and today it was just half a metre.’
‘The course range is 1.5 to 1.6 nm, so as to allow for 70 to 75 minute races (elapsed time), which we alter depending on breeze. For today’s race we had 8-12 knots on offer. Thee earlier days produced a maximum of 16knots with an average of 10 for day one and 13 for day two. Today we set a course axis of 025? and then moved it for the second beat to 010?. The thunderstorm dragged the breeze to the West and it kept moving on us prior to the second start, and then dropped off completely. So at 1430hrs we flew AP over A and sent them all home.’

A happy Kevin also reported that it is four races for a series and five for a drop, which occurred today. Anything more from here is a bonus – one all sailors will be ecstatic about. ‘It certainly is a very competitive fleet, so I am a little surprised that we have not had to get the Black Flag out yet – just the one General Recall. So they are all behaving and playing nicely – generally’, Kevin finished with.

Now only one crew usually claims a bullet per race and alas at the end, and as was said in Highlander, ‘There can only be one!’ In the meantime the sailors and Etchells Class are certainly the winners for good sailing, great knowledge and more than a healthy dose of fun. See http://www.etchells.org.au/ for more information.

Yamaha - ETNZMackay BoatsWildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

America's Cup - Southern Spars AC50 build for Emirates Team NZ + Video
The Peter Blake skippered Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map 27 years after Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map with her unequalled clean sweep of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, Southern Spars were called on to build Emirates Team NZ's America's Cup Challenger. Here's a look behind the scenes at the composite engineering process Southern Spars employ on projects ranging from Volvo OR spars, to Olympic bike wheels to an AC50
Posted on 1 May
Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Bernasconi on expected winning factors in Bermuda
ETNZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie Emirates Team NZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie once the six teams entered in the 35th America's Cup. 'We have had a great run', he says. 'We've had a few hiccups along the way, as always. But the boat is going really well. We are getting through manoeuvres very well. And we think our straight line speed is good.'
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Team NZ return fire at Coutts' social media bullets
Emirates Team New Zealand have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers Emirates Team NZ have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers in a media release on Thursday (NZT) over the team's daggerboard use. In the release, replayed by America's Cup Events Authority and Oracle Team USA CEO Sir Russell Coutts on his Facebook page. It was claimed that the Kiwi team had an issue with daggerboards and were using a rule they had not supported to keep sailing
Posted on 2 Apr
New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
Securely moored to the quay, or cast adrift?
With boating, you have to cast the lines off in order to go and get into it. With boating, you have to cast the lines off in order to go and get into it. However, when it comes to your insurer, you kind of expect that they’re going to be as bound to you as the standing rigging is to the mast, the ring frames to the hull, or the engine mounts to the runners, and the propellers to the shafts, skegs and cutlass bearings. Whom would you rather be insured with?
Posted on 15 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar
So what’s it really like?
For ages now, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and 24-hour runs For ages now, well it seems like that anyway, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and incredible 24-hour runs. In their own very unique way they totally represent the technical avant-garde, and thank God for that. Where would we be without their impressive shapes, wonderful rigs, and now of course, foiling magic.
Posted on 6 Mar
JJ Giltinan 18ft - Kiwi Champion the subject of two protests in Sydney
Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings on Friday Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings Friday morning in Sydney. She faces two claims - both from Appliancesonline (David Witt). The first is an attempt to re-open the Hearing held on Wednesday morning after Yamaha was suffered damage in Race 3 as a result of a collision with a give way yacht, and Yamaha received redress of average
Posted on 3 Mar