by John Curnow
Three Victorian crews made the journey to Newcastle last month for the Thrifty NSW Etchells State Championships. Now it’s March and four crews are returning the favour and going to Royal Brighton Yacht Club to compete in the Victorian Etchells State Championships over the coming long weekend.
Roulette, NSW Champions, lead the fleet around the hitch mark off Merewether beach in Newcastle. - 2011 Etchells Victorian State Championships.
Newly crowned NSW State Champions, from the delightful Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron at Kirribilli, Mark Johnson, Nik Burfoot and Peter Conde lead a very strong group heading South. They are joined by Lake Macquarie’s Critical Balance, La Vie Dasante, also from RSYS and third place holder from the recent titles, David Clark’s Fifteen out of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Mark Johnson, Nik Burfoot and Peter Conde head uphill as Bushfire and Echo Beach already make for the bottom. - 2011 Etchells Victorian State Championships.
Awaiting the visitors is an exceptionally strong Victorian contingent, as well. There are the brothers, Steve and Jake Gunther, who were second and fourth respectively at Newcastle, along with J.P Macquet, North Sails’ Ross Lloyd and the reigning World Champion, John Bertrand, all of whom represent the host club, RBYC.
Some of the other names may be newer to Etchells, but they have been very well known in the larger keelboat circles for some time. There is Michael Hiatt from the Farr 55 Living Doll, Phil Coombs who currently has the 51st Project, Peter Coleman from Just A Minor Hick Up and Chris Dare who had Flirt I and II, with the former now known as Vamp. One of the crewmembers aboard Flirtation, the name of Chris’ Etchells, is former YA President, Andrew Plympton. Sailing aboard the Jukes of Hazard is one Nigel Jones, who drove Cadibarra VII and VIII to many victories and records. His father Don not only designed those, but also the 70 foot Ichi Ban and Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing, as well. One final name of note is Mark Bulka and Perfect Balance. Mark has been driving Lou Abraham’s Sydney 38, Challenge, a lot in recent times. One notable omission here is Team Barry from Sandringham Yacht Club. The reigning Corinthian World Title holders will not be in attendance.
If you can believe the predictions this far out, then 5-15 knots from mostly the Eastern half are to be the go. One thing you can certainly rely on is the fact that it will really be very close racing indeed.
David Clark's Fifteen heading back down to the bottom mark as a ship departs Newcastle's busy port. - 2011 Etchells Victorian State Championships.
Jake Gunther with a commanding lead during racing at the recent NSW titles. - 2011 Etchells Victorian State Championships.