As a displaced Etchells sailor, (sadly a fractured lower vertebrae in a recent sailing accident keeping me from racing) I decided to spend this weekend Volunteering with Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) Race Management team for the International Etchells 2011 Victorian State Championships.
We sailors of all shapes and sizes turn up, rig up and tune up - whether it be in Twilights, Club Racing or Regatta’s but there is a whole host of dedicated, passionate and supportive people behind the scenes that really do 'make it happen'.
From the tower/ base to the rescue boats to those accompanying the PRO on Race Committee boat everyone has an important and varied role to play in hosting racing – week in week out. This is a small dedication to them all...
Those I had the pleasure of meeting over the weekend’s Regatta had wonderful and varied Sailing experiences to share and certainly have one thing in common - a love of being on the water (just as well as the vast majority are (unpaid) Volunteers) . I met Sailing 'identities', a few reprobates and some folk entirely new to Sailing but all with something important to contribute to the running of a smooth Regatta, ensuring competitors both good and fair racing.
Most of our activities during Competition proper included feeding information on wind direction and velocity (zig - zagging across the bay to do so) back to the PRO to set the course then lay and retrieve Course marks and recording race results – all requiring great concentration and some physical effort. But so much work goes into a Regatta before we get to even crane our boats into the water, especially in One- Design with strict weigh- in, registration and measuring compliance requirements.
Speaking of racing – (and acknowledging a great summary has already been written by John Curnow on the final day’s racing - so no need to repeat it )- it was, as expected a tight tussle, made even more so by the light conditions, coming down to the wire in the sixth and final race and as usual consistency pays off . We all know in One- Design racing you don’t have to win races to place accordingly but you need to rank consistently in the Top five odd. The 2011 Victorian State Champions – Jack’s Hut didn’t actually win a race but they were never far from the action and sailed a tremendous Regatta to beat reigning World and current Australian Champion John Bertrand on Triad. Third place to the Mornington Boys – led by Graeme Taylor on Magpie. All three placed in the Top five at our recent Etchells Nationals, sailed on Corio Bay, Geelong in early January.
Consistent and consistently good – these boys are all winners to me!
For Jack’s Hut Skipper Noel 'Nitro' Brennan it is a return to the podium, last winning the State Title in 1994/5 but more recently the Australian Championships in 2001/2 and when not racing Etchells is competing internationally and locally in a host of varied classes and boats both in and off shore.
Noel was ably assisted by Ben Morrison- Jack, another passionate One- Design and off shore sailor- infamous for being one of a pair to kite surf across Bass Strait in 2009 – an epic 260km voyage. Accompanying Victorians Noel and Ben was New South Welshman, Peter Herrington – rounding out the winning crew of diversely talented professional yachtsman and great Sailing Ambassadors.
I am always quick to salute the Race Committee from the water but I certainly respect their patient preparation and long days helping us enjoy our time on the water. Let’s face it without them – there would be no racing!
Important to remind ourselves of that every now and again and remember thank them accordingly ... Even better, novice or professional - walk a day in their shoes for a full appreciation of their important contribution to our sport and like me, you may even learn a thing or two – taking the good and not so good practises witnessed into personal account out on the 'racetrack' next time.