New Zealand’s Alistair Gair confirmed overnight that he will not be defending his 2010 Musto Australasian Etchells Winter Championship title this week in Mooloolaba, Queensland.
In a late night call Gair detailed the final stages of a drama that has been unfolding all week.
‘On Wednesday last week our Etchells Velsheda turned up in Queensland and Australian Customs service were processing everything fine. In the last 48 hours however we were notified we didn’t have a new form that applies to the boat trailer. We had no idea we had to fill out that form and were not told we needed it. It requires a whole raft of information about the trailer for Australian Road regulations we could not get completed in time. We haven’t needed it when we brought the boat in from New Zealand previously. The trailor is an Australian built trailrer which has twice left Australia and once returned, but this time it was a problem.
‘We tried very hard to solve the problem and the Mooloolaba event organisers enlisted some high powered help but we just ran out of time.
‘Tracey Johnstone, Denis Cook, the Executive Officer of Yachting Queensland, the Queensland Minister for Sport, Mr Phil Reeve, Queensland Senator Claire Moore and one of her staff Meredith Newman worked very hard but it became apparent last night we would not get a clearance until next week.
‘Unfortunately we could not get a charter boat and we were pretty much forced to make a call last night and had to can our flights just before midnight.
‘This event is fantastic and we considered it a key part of our 2012 Etchells Worlds campaign for Sydney. In fourteen years so far there has never been a dual winner, so we wanted to be the ones to break the drought.
‘But if we can’t be there, we will be cheering from across the ditch for Dave Clark. He is originally from Auckland, went to the ‘87 America’s Cup and never came home.
‘We piped him at the post last year so we wouldn’t be too disappointed if he won the event, though it’s such a top class field they will have to sail very hard.
‘However, I am happy for whoever does well and we just want to wish everyone the best. Have a beer for us, we will miss our winter sailing in Mooloolaba, it’s a great place.
‘I do want to thank everyone who tried so hard on our behalf. The Queensland Government, Denis Cook from Yachting Queensland and Tracey Johnstone the event organiser have done a fantastic job helping us out and it is just a real shame it has worked out this way.
‘We are looking to the Worlds in February at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. We will come across for a couple of weekends in Sydney for the pre-Nationals, just to sail on the Worlds course.
Although obviously disappointed, Gair concluded on a positive note promising ‘we will be back next year for the Etchells Australasian Winter Championship, for sure without a doubt!’
Event organiser Tracey Johnstone said this morning, ‘We are disappointed that the defending champion can't be here. They were a highly rated team and have always added another dimension in the tough competition we see out on the bay each June.
‘The one bright light in this sad situation is that Alastair fully intends being back in Mooloolaba at next year's Winters.’
Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship website: http://www.mooetchells.yachting.org.au/ The Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship 2011 is sponsored by Musto Australasia, Events Queensland, Sunshine Coast Council, Newport Apartments, The Wharf Tavern, Sun Air Bus Services, Sail-World.com, PropertyToday.net.au, The Wharf Mooloolaba, Klingers Menswear Mooloolaba, Ullman Sails, Sunsport Marine.