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Steak Knives and Etchells

by John Curnow on 11 Mar 2013
Barry head back uphill as part of the leaders. - Entire 2013 Etchells Victorian Championship Alex McKinnon http://www.alexmckinnonphotography.com
Tim Shaw became terribly famous as the face of a TV Shopping service, for not only his super-animated facial expressions, but also his obligatory line before the final sales pitch. Yes, right after you had decided to buy 20 Slice-o-matics that would never, ever get used, the inducement to act now came in the form of, ‘But wait there’s more!’ Of course, it was at this juncture that the six steak knives got offered.

One would have thought that there did not have to be any additional elements required for the Etchells partaking in the Entire 2013 Etchells Victorian State Championship. Perhaps as his own version of penalty turns for previous infringements, Hughey the God of Wind decided that there was more great weather to be served up for yet more great sailing. At any rate, the steak knives came in the form of smart, etched glass cubes for those that would go on to get the gold.

So then, what an awesome race to have on your final day, but wait, there is more to that, too. You had to wait a little while for it to begin. Right up until 1500hrs when the preparatory signal was sounded, to be exact. The axis was set at 150 degrees to match the light Sou’easter and the marks were 1.3nm away. Any waves were caused by the pleasure craft also utilising Port Phillip.

There was a major attraction to the Committee Boat end and a fair amount of congestion to go with it. Team Barry felt a little of that squeeze and was out to sea when the mass slid over the line, so then ducked in behind in to clear space. Doing the best, however, was Smoke and Mirrors (Jack Ellis, David Buckland and Campbell Ewart) a little further down the line. Fifteen, Magpie and Barry would head out right immediately and find instant pace in the soft breeze. Magpie’s skipper, Graeme Taylor, was known to be very keen for a result and the crew of Noel Drennan and Ben Morrison-Jack substituting in for Steve Jarvin would have shared that sentiment.


Zephyr (Gary Bunyard, Neal Merry, Patricia Laverty and Brett Stewart) would go back for being On Course Side and Easy Rider were behind the line as well, but not because they had to be. However, this would not be the final statement on the subject of OCS, which would be carried out back on shore, much later.

Over on the right side of the course, Magpie would be showing a clean pair of heels over Fifteen in fourth place and The Doctor (Ross Lloyd, Matt Turner and Peter Dowdney) in fifth. Early on this side was certainly favoured, with Dawn Raid (Jake Gunther, Ben Solly and John Collingwood joining the party, whilst Barry (Damien King, Simon Cunnington, Aaron Cole and Tom King) would go back in towards the shore.

That’s Life (Ian Crisp, Marcus Sill and Fergus Forbes) were clipping along here as a mark of the differential in pace between the right fleet and the mass left back in on the left side of the course. Other members of the breakaway group were Jazasa, TL2 and Pedro.

Things change in this game and the Pioneers who went right ended up being far right as the left hand fleet marched out from the shore on port tack. In the middle, The Doctor, Dawn Raid and Voodoo Spirit (Guyon Wilson, Darren Mahoney and James Wilson) looked good, with The Doctor crossing Dawn Raid in the centre of the course. It would be Shoulda Gone Left (Peter Coleman, Wayne Dixon and Iain Gartley) that brought the bulk of the inshore fleet out, as the pain most of them took early became set to be eased on their way in to the top.

Triad (John Bertrand, Bill Browne and Jake Newman) was certainly testament to that rising feeling, as they got a lift off the shore and finally found cracking pace. It was especially evident for the early boats in that main, inshore pack. At the same time, the centre had filled in for the Doctor and it was now the turn of those at sea to slow. At 4 or 5 knots of soft breeze it meant any fluctuation would be seriously felt and it was like everyone would have their turn at some point.

The leaders of the right now had a serious bow wave on, but did have extra distance to cover. The left hand leaders would also be moving and you felt like you were in pincer, just waiting to see which jaw would get you first. Skipping along would be Triad and they really looked like winning the pincer battle, but The Doctor in the middle was pointing higher, but their pace fell off from there, so that both Magpie and Fifteen (David Clark, Michael Hughes and Robert Scrivenor) would go through them.

Triad had it in the bag by then with The Moe Szyslak Experience and Voodoo Spirit well and truly in the mix. At 200m short of the top mark, a new breeze amounting to a huge 7 knots arrived from 150 degrees and you could feel it by the total difference not only of punch, but also temperature. It felt a little like the cool air from an evaporative cooler. Not as cold as air-con, but chilled off a bit by passing over water.


The Master Class by Triad was now very evident, as they had smashed the first work. Voodoo Spirit would go around in second, with Tango in third. The Moe Szyslak Experience followed, with Magpie and Fifteen much closer to tenth and just behind Mid Gybe Crisis (Niesje Hees, Peter Little and Nigel Brown). One guy who did not want to be there was the small fishing vessel, who suddenly found 25 Etchells barrelling down on him on their lay line. He got out of there and went way outside the course.

Heading back down, all went on an inshore line to the Rialto Tower in Melbourne’s CBD and only Mid Gybe Crisis and Jazasa came back into the centre of the course. Triad would round first with Tango next, then The Jukes of Hazzard, Voodoo Spirit, Barry, Walk on Water and Magpie. Most would be coming in hot towards the inshore gate to keep the heat in it and there were a few looking for buoy room. Interestingly, the vast majority headed back out to sea where there was not only more sunshine, but more wind, too.


You could tell everyone was keen for a result and the bias was to the right side, but would some go too far? There was a bit of a knock there, as some came back on to starboard, so that may help the pioneers out far right. By the top, Triad had stretched their lead with Tango, Voodoo Spirit and Magpie would sneak in under Barry, with The Jukes of Hazzard and Fifteen following in behind.

The last boat, Zephyr, was the only one to come back out to sea, with the rest playing follow the leader, going down inside in the simply glorious conditions on offer on Port Phillip. Triad crossed the line first with Tango in behind, but the gun did not sound, so third place, Voodoo Spirit, got the nod. In fourth was Magpie and then Barry just after them. The news was self-evident. OCS was anointed on to Triad, Tango and The Jukes of Hazzard, which would have a marked effect on the final scoreboard. Triad would get the Grand Master and Master titles, but not the overall.


Speaking with Bertrand afterwards and commenting on their excellent Master Class of a race, including the OCS, he said 'That’s yacht racing, isn’t it? A terrific race for us, as we put the matrix together really well. Billy and Jake did a great job and it is a real pleasure to race with these guys.'

'The boat was tricked up pretty nicely and we were smoking, it was really great. To race these Etchells in these conditions is absolutely champagne racing. It is just fantastic. The boats are technically advanced, even though the design is old, but the basic trim of the sails, shape and twist of the mainsail all combine together to make it a dream boat to race', said the Grand Master.

In addition to the overall win, Magpie got the Too Young trophy, as well. Graeme Taylor commented, 'A bit of comeback in that race. We had Triad on our tail at the start and I went in to the bunch at the Committee Boat to wash him off and got locked in there. We had to start late and split to the right, with not many options to comeback early on.'


'We were seventh at the top and we did not know that Triad was OCS and so had given up on him a bit and just said let’s have a good race and get back to third. Making fourth was pretty good, which equates to second now. We sailed hard to chip away and get through those in front of us. We had some good pace and are happy for the result. Many thanks to the Melbourne Fleet, Royal Brighton Yacht Club and all the volunteers for a great series.' Clearly, this will set them in good stead for the impending Etchells World Championships in Italy.

Deborah Lloyd, the Principal Race Officer said afterwards, 'I had fun and I hope the competitors did, too. Many, many thanks to the wonderful team who got watch all this great racing and experience the sensational conditions for themselves. It was a real team effort and I’m so proud of them.'

So it is well done to all the sailors, race management and volunteers for turning on a great regatta and for that, you all get your six steak knives. 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 www.rbyc.org.au/etchells for more information.

Mackay BoatsNaiad/Oracle SupplierMariners Museum 660x82

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