Top class Etchells fleet set for 16th Mooloolaba Classic

Fleet - 2011 Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship day 2
Event Media
A highly competitive fleet of One Design Etchells will contest the 16th annual ADCO Etchells Australasian Winter Championship off Mooloolaba on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, commencing this week.

Today some 40 crews will be preparing their boats, fitting masts and assembling in the boat park near the Coast Guard launching ramp off Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba. Their boats will then be crane launched after being towed from all around Australia to contest this event.

It would normally have been a busy practice day on the water, however offshore conditions look set to limit today’s sailing.

While an East Coast low has produced very big seas on the NSW coast, Queensland’s Sunshine coast has been less affected. Some strong winds from 25-30 knots are forecast for today.

Seas of three metres with a swell of up to five metres by the start of racing on Friday 8th June at 11am are forecasted, but the winds are expected to abate with perfect 12-17 knot conditions likely.

Sydney sailor Tom King is the defending Australasian Winter champion. The 2000 Olympic Gold medallist in the 470 class and current Etchells World champion commented ‘Interesting weather this week. This is a fabulous, never won twice regatta and we are all looking forward to it.

‘We’ve had very limited preparation for this event, all been busy back at work after a big 2012 World Championship campaign so we are far from favourites for this event in our minds.

‘We expect Graeme Taylor, Dave Clarke, Jake Gunther and Mark Johnson to be very strong over the three days of hard racing.

‘In truth over half of this fleet is capable of winning at least one race and any of fifteen skippers could emerge victorious on Sunday afternoon.’

Graeme Taylor agrees this regatta is wide open. Taylor came second at the 2012 World Championship and he points to the depth of talent in this Mid-Winters field.

‘Start with Tom King, three Olympians on his boat. David Clarke is the current Etchells National champion and finished fourth at the Worlds. Jake Gunther from Melbourne has beaten us all at regattas in the past 18 months and Mark Johnson sails a lot with Jud Smith, the 2006 World Champion. Colin Beashel is a five-time Olympian and twice class World champion and Peter McNeil was the 2004 class World champion.

Mathew Chew was part of the 2009 Etchells World championship team and is now a skipper and Bucky Smith, from that same championship crew, is teaming with Hong Kong skipper Mark Thornburrow.

'I guess in most regattas we have been rarely outside the top five in recent times. This is going to be a hard one.’

In 15 years of the Etchells Australasian Winter Championship there have been 15 winners - a prestigious list - 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), Alastair Gair (2010) and Tom King (2011).

For documentation and entry lists go to

Event Manager Tracey Johnstone advised this morning that one of Australia's best know sailors and media personalities Jessica Watson will be attending the 2012 ADCO Etchells Australasian Winter Championships on Friday afternoon, for the first day prize presentation at the Wharf Tavern Mooloolaba.