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Etchells Victorian Championships 2011 -Close contest and great result

by John Curnow on 14 Mar 2011
Going in to the finish line with the championship crew from Jack’s Hut. - 2011 Victorian Etchells Championships © Alex McKinnon Photography
Etchells Victorian State Championships, 2011 and in order to complete a full series at Etchells championships three races were needed today.

Royal Brighton Yacht Club’s Principal Race Officer, Simon Dryden said, ‘What a perfect day’s sailing we enjoyed on Port Phillip. After getting rid of that Sydney weather that came through yesterday and retuning it to its owners in NSW, the thunderstorms were no more and its was back to the cool, dry Southerly wind.’

‘On leaving my house this morning, I was not fully confident that we would indeed get all three races in, as the hot air balloons were wafting over my roof. Out on the racecourse, this meant we had to move both the top and bottom marks numerous times during Races Four and Five. Ultimately, it was really great to run all the races, which provided for a complete series, allowed the competitors to drop their worst result and definitely showed just who mastered the array the conditions we had over the long weekend’, Dryden finished with.

Competitors had been asked to be ready to respond to flags at 9.55am and it was a fired up fleet that went out to race in the gentle breeze 8-10 knot Sou’soueast breezes with under half a metre of wave action. The very long line was set straight off Brighton and headed directly in towards Sandringham, which meant a distance of two nautical miles.

The separation of the fleet to the left and right sides of the course was evident almost immediately. There were those that were virtually on the bricks that line parts of the shore, where as most of the big hitters stayed to sea. At the top, it was evident that those who had gone in to the shore had been severely punished and the soul pioneer who went way too far right, ended up on virtually a beam reach in to the mark.

Upon rounding, most chose to go in towards the centre of the Bay for the run down. The huge separation of at least four to five minutes became very evident as they all went through. John Bertrand was a clear first and stayed there for the whole race. Graeme Taylor had Magpie in second and Noel Drennan was in third place. At the bottom, the course was changed to 150 degrees at 1nm.

At the revised top mark, with separation now of 10 minutes, the distances were very significant. Indeed the boats that I initially thought were the back markers, in fact ended up two minutes in front of the vessels that really were.
350 degrees was set as the course to the finish. ‘Tricky morning’, was John’s comment after the win, with almost a whole leg to the backmarkers and probably a minute to Magpie and then Jack’s Hut just a short while behind.

Race Five, the second of the day, got away fairly quickly after the last finisher had crossed over the line from the preceding event. It was set to course 165 degrees and 1.4nm. The appearance of white caps gave us an indication of the 12 knots of breeze and there certainly was also the odd puff at 15 knots. Unfortunately, there was a General Recall on this race and the loss of time was more than enough to get the Race Committee to very quickly hoist the Black Flag. Once away cleanly after the next start, the course did not need to be moved again. John Bertrand won this race, as well.

For the final race of the day and championship, Race Management moved everyone over, closer to the main Shipping Channel and stationed themselves just South of R2 in the centre of the top of the Bay. A long start line was again offered for the fleet to get away to the bearing of 160 degrees and the marks that were 2nm away. There was a solid 12 knots that quickly got in to the mid-teens as the race developed. Unfortunately, there was another General Recall and the Black Flag, which had been found for the preceding event, was out again very hastily.

At this point it was definitely game on for those in the hunt for the trophy. Very quickly into the race there were big gaps that were quite evident. Even the competitors were commenting to me on the size of the spaces and holes in the fleet. Sometimes it was who you think should be where they were and at other times it well and truly not so, at all. We we’re seeing a half to two thirds of leg gap, which was very interesting in a class where it is so close most of the time

We were seeing one half to two thirds a leg gap develop, which was very interesting, as it happened from the first work onwards. Course One had been selected for the final race, which meant two whole laps and a beat to the finish. At the bottom mark for the first time, it was Jack’s Hut over Triad and then Magpie in third and it is all very close. One position could mean a lot and boy did it – in the end it’s what Noel Drennan won by.

Congratulating Noel ‘Nitro’ Drennan after the 2011 Etchells Victorian Championship win, he said, ‘Thank you for that. It was a pretty difficult regatta; the whole weekend has had lots of shifts and velocity changes. It definitely kept us on our toes and the places were changing quite rapidly and with some big margins, even earlier on today it was certainly not all cemented in.’

Of the two wins on the final day by John Bertrand, Noel said, ‘It’s no surprise for him to come good in a hurry and to really show us all just how good he is.’ The two nautical mile works were a feature of the day, ‘It’s more like what we’re used to years ago and I still like the longer courses and the racing it provides. Absolutely a great leveller for any discrepancies at the other end’, he finished.

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