Day 2 of the Rex Gorell Prestige Etchells Australian Championship - a slow start but a booming day.
Just as the started Race 1 of the day, a 20 degree wind shift occurred causing PRO Greg Sinclair to pull the pin on the race, much to the chagrin of those competitors who started on the pin and were massively advantaged. For some however it would have been a relief as there appeared to be a large number of OCS.
The course was relayed by the Race Committee at 045, under a clearing sky in 12-15 knots, the breeze causing Corio Bay to be quite choppy, with white caps appearing.
Just as the fleet went into sequence there was another 20 degree shift as a storm cell swept across the Bay.
The AP was hoisted and in an attempt to get a race underway, the Committee Boat moved to the south side of the channel and set the course at 025 at two miles.
Finally the day's racing commenced and the mid left appeared favoured as the fleet sailed across Corio Bay's shipping channel, on a two mile beat.
The breeze was at 12 knots as Mark Thornburrow (Racer X 923) lead the fleet around the top mark for the first time.
He was followed by Gary Boyd (B Squared), Graeme Taylor (Magpie), John Bertrand (Triad), Cameron Miles (Are We There Yet?), Damien King (Barry), Ian Johnson (Bananas in Pyjamas), Richard Hammond (Alchemist) and Doug Williams (Vertigo). Rounding out the top ten was Lake Macquarie sailor Tom Braidwood (Bad Doll).
In bright sunshine and in 18 – 20 knots of building breeze, Gary Boyd led the fleet around the top mark for the second time.
Quite a shuffle in the top ten positions as John Bertrand moved up into second while Hong Kong sailor Mark Thornburrow dropped back into third. Fourth was Cameron Miles, followed by Niesje Hees (Functional Overlay), Damien King, Michael Coxon (North Star) and Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance). Dave Clark (Fifteen) was ninth, with Rob Hanna (Smoking Gun) completing the top ten.
The building breeze, gusting well above 20 knots at times, meant the fleet ‘had a bit on’ as they ran down to the finish line under spinnaker.
John Bertrand (Triad) scored the win over Gary Boyd (B Squared) by just one second, with Mark Thornburrow (Racer X 923) one second further back illustrating the tight, close racing of the class.
Cameron Miles (Are We There Yet?) was fourth, with Damien King (Barry) fifth and Graeme Taylor (Magpie) sixth. Michael Coxon (North Star) was seventh, Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance) eighth, David Clark (Fifteen) ninth with Jake Gunther (The Boat) completing the top ten.
Robert Holm (Good Vibes) retired from race 1.
The breeze continued to cause problems as Race 2 of the day (Race 3 of the Series) commenced. The course was set a 020 but after a general recall, the Committee reset the course to 035. The whitecaps were now clearly visible and the seaway very choppy as the fleet went into sequence for the restart of race 2.
The race was finally gunned away in 20 knots and the 1999 Etchells World Champion Cameron Miles (Are We There Yet?) had a perfect start on the pin and headed left to the favoured side of the course.
However by the top mark for the first time, Graeme Taylor (Magpie) had taken the lead and rounded ahead of Cameron Miles, followed by John Bertrand (Triad). Fourth was Ian Johnson (Bananas in Pyjamas), then came Damien King (Barry) and Mark Thornburrow (Racer X 923).
Out on the right a wave for wave leader tussle was going on between Graeme Taylor and John Bertrand as they came down to the bottom mark. Surfing down the course, GT just held out Bertrand as they came together ahead of the round.
However neither GT nor Bertrand were first around, that honour went to Tom Braidwood (Bad Doll) who had slipped by the pair and into the lead.
Braidwood and Taylor chose the right mark, Bertrand the left. The leading boats seemed divided equally as to their choice of mark with Ian Johnson (Bananas in Pyjamas) going right, Cameron Miles (Are We There Yet?) left, Mark Langford (Critical Balance) and Mark Thornburrow (Racer X 923) right, Damien King (Barry) left and Peter Merrington (Odyssey) right.
On the second beat the conditions were perfect for sailing and the racing was very close and exciting.
Damien King has a good second beat and led at the top mark for the second time. John Bertrand was second, Ian Johnson third, Mark Thornburrow fourth, with Graeme Taylor having dropped back to fifth. Mark Langford was sixth.
It was a spinnaker run to the finish with King holding his lead. Taylor, who made up ground and seemed to surf the waves better than his rivals was second, Bertrand third.
Ian Johnson (Bananas in Pyjamas), Mark Langford (Critical Balance), Tom Braidwood (Bad Doll), Cameron Miles (Are We There Yet?), Mark thornburrow (Racer X 923), Peter Merrington (Odyssey) and Jervis Tilly (Bushfire) completed the top ten.
Overall Ian Johnson's Bananas in Pyjamas leads Mark Thornburrow's Racer X 923 by one point. Mark Bulka's Perfect Balance is a further three points back, in third.
Results are provisional.
Full results at http://www.etchells.org.au/nationals What they said:
John Bertrand (Triad):
'It was full on today. These boats are a handful in these conditions, plenty of wind, with the chop, it’s hard to keep the boat going fast.
‘Overall an exciting day; the boats were lit up quite a lot. There were 15 degree shifts. It was great to be sailing with Grant again. (John's Australia II navigator).
'We had a lot of fun today, we have some many memories it’s a real blast.' Grant Simmer (Triad):
'I am hurting, that was my first race on an Etchells in 12 years. It’s much longer since I’ve been on the foredeck - they were patient with me today. I was just worried about falling in.
‘Racing wise ... we started well and chipped away and were rewarded with a first and a third.' Barry co-owner and mainsheet hand Simon Cunnington:
‘It was windy enough, we had a bit on. In the first race we had a solid fifth. In the second race we had a bad start, we were spat right, ducked a lot of sterns, came back on a good right shift.
'Then on the second beat our tactician Andy Butler sent us right and we got to the top mark first and extended a little for a good win.
'We needed that result, after yesterday's debacle (wrong side of a huge shift, finished almost last.)
'The impressive thing today was to see Cam Miles back at the front of the fleet after a long break away. Mark Thornburrow (Hong Kong) was good today, as was Graeme Taylor and of course John Bertrand.' Cameron Miles (Are We There Yet?):
'Four years since I've raced an Etchells, it was hard work; they are bigger but great sailing. Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance):
'After yesterday's win, we had an eighth and a 17th today. We suffered in the stronger conditions because we are 20kg under weight.
'It's that lightass on the front, (Glenn Ashby – six times A Cat World champion). I have been telling him to eat for the last three months, we are taking him to Mexican tonight – we need to load him up with calories.'