A new Etchells crew lead by 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist Tom King show they will be a threat at the 2012 Etchells World Championship in Sydney.
The final day of the 15th Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship, sailed in Mooloolaba Queensland venue of the 2004 Etchells Worlds, the fleet faced the starter's gun for race 5 of the series in a 12-13 knot south westerly.
2009 Champion Damian King (Barry) led the fleet away from about mid line. Hong Kong skipper Mark Thornburrow (Racer X) on the pin end also did nicely off the line, while 2010 World number 2 Ante Razmilovic (Mo Jo) was mid line.
It was an uncharacteristically bad start for overall leader Tom King (Iron Lotus), who was back in the third row at the Committee Boat end.
The championship major contenders all went left on the first beat but it was the right that paid.
At the first mark Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance) led the fleet, closely followed by Mark Thornburrow (Racer X), David Clark (Fifteen), Mark Johnson (Roulette), Peter McNeil (Absolute Pearler), Mark Richards (Are We There Yet?), Mark Tonner-Joyce (Dawn Raid), Jervis Tilley (Bushfire), James Chilman (The Stig) and Mark Langford (Critical Balance).
Damian King on Barry was 16th, while Tom King (Iron Lotus) was 26th.
Coming down the course Barry looked to be the most right hand boat of the fleet, but it was Mark Bulka who held a lead of two boat lengths.
In 13-14 knots of breeze under rapidly clearing skies and in bright sunshine, Melbourne skipper Bulka rounded the bottom mark ahead of Mark Thornburrow, David Clark, Peter McNeil, Brisbane skipper James Chilman and Mark Johnson. Kane Sinclair (Why Be Flat) made his move into the top ten, then came Mark Langford, Lake Macquarie skipper Gary Boyd (B Squared) and Mark Tonner-Joyce.
The big move came from Tom King, up to 14th. The biggest non move came from Damian King, who came down the right hand side of the course and lost places, slipping back into the 30s. With yesterday’s BFD set to become his drop, things were not looking good for Damian King’s championship aspirations.
Tom King, on the other hand, would likely sail race 5 as his drop.
After the last spinnaker set, at the mark Mark Bulka maintained his lead. Mark Langford made his move into second from eighth, then came Mark Johnson, David Clark and Mark Thornburrow, who had dropped back from second place. James Chilman, Peter McNeil, Kane Sinclair and Jervis Tilley completed the leading group.
Both the Kings made moves; Tom King was now 13th while Damian King had a better leg up to 20th.
Bulka led the fleet to the finish to take the win in race 5. David Clark improved into second place, Mark Langford strengthened his position for a podium spot by taking third, likewise Mark Tonner-Joyce, Mark Thornburrow and Mark Johnson. James Chilman, Jervis Tilley, Kane Sinclair and Peter McNeil completed the top ten to finish.
Tom King finished race 5 in 13th place and as the back of the envelope maths showed, he could not be beaten in the championship.
With just one race to sail even if the Olympic Gold medallist kept 13th as his worst race, no one could take the 15th Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship title away from King and the Iron Lotus crew of David Edwards, Owen McMahon and Ivan Wheen, who headed towards the river for an early crane out.
Tom King had a top class crew. With Owen McMahon, his tactician, he sailed 470s at the Savannah Olympics (Atlanta 1996).
Owen McMahon explained ‘I only met Ivan (Wheen) who is the Farr 40 Sputnik skipper and David Edwards, who sailed a Soling with Nev Witty at the Sydney Olympics, on Thursday.
‘But Tom and I have done a lot of sailing together. When Tom and I get in a boat it just works and overall things came together very well.
'David has done a lot of work getting the boat in order and it’s well prepared and fast.
'Funnily enough we thought our worst result was our best race. In the first race this morning we had a very poor start. We were slow to accelerate; a boat came up underneath us, we had to tack away and duck boats and in an instant we were on the third row. We had to climb from the back of the fleet so we worked hard, made some good decisions and climbed up into 13th, so were really pleased.'
Tom King agreed. ‘We are a brand new team as Owen has said. I think we had beginners luck.
‘Actually we had a great three days, we are looking forward to the 2012 Worlds but first we have to qualify via the Melbourne fleet. But right now we seem to be on track, being the 15th winner here is not a bad way to start a Worlds campaign.’
Just seven points separated five boats; Dawn Raid, Racer X, Barry, Perfect Balance, Roulette and Critical Balance, leaving the minor podium placings wide open.
In bright sunshine the fleet lined up for the all important race 6. PRO Phill Collier set course 1, with 1.6nm leg lengths.
It was a clean start and at the top mark for the first time, Melbourne skipper Mark Tonner-Joyce led the fleet. Douglas Flynn (Wobbegong), David Clark, Jeanne-Claude Strong (Yandoo XX), Mark Johnson, Mark Bulka, Peter McNeil and David Rose followed. Noel Patterson (Waterloo Bay) and Mooloolaba Etchells Fleet Captain Trevor Martin (Three Ring Circus) were also up amongst the leading group.
Conditions were easing down to around ten knots as the fleet reached the second mark. Mark Tonner-Joyce maintained his lead, David Clark was now second, Mark Bulka third with Jeanne-Claude Strong in fourth. Mark Johnson was next while Michael Coxon (North Star) had improved places to now be in sixth. Peter McNeil, Douglas Flynn, Damian King and Jervis Tilley all followed in quick succession.
Over the next lap David Clark overtook Mark Tonner-Joyce and went into the lead. Mark Bulka had a bad leg, falling back into the fleet.
Clark held on to take race 6 and his first win of the series. Tonner-Joyce was second with Damian King moving up to take third. Michael Coxon was fourth, Jeanne-Claude Strong fifth and Mark Bulka sixth. Gary Boyd, Peter McNeil, Mark Thornburrow and Jervis Tilley rounded out the top ten.
Tom King and crew on Iron Lotus were the Overall winners of the 15th Etchells Winter Championship.
After leading for much or race 6, Mark Tonner-Joyce (Dawn Raid) and crew Glen Gibson and Stuart Schafer finished with a second, enough to lift them to Overall second place and make the long trip from Mornington in Victoria worth their while.
Tonner-Joyce is no stranger to Etchells having sailed bow with 2010 Etchells World Champion John Bertrand and middle with Biggles (Ian Johnson) and Mark Bulka and was crew for Jake Gunther at a Worlds.
‘We are a new team coming together. We had a terrific regatta, lucky to do well out of the fluky conditions on day one, not so happy with yesterday but today we put it together again and concentrated on processes.
‘We are part of the Melbourne fleet and in October we are endeavouring to qualify for the Worlds.’
The black flag in race 3 cost Melbourne skipper Damian King (Barry) and crew Andrew Butler, Simon Cunnington and James Ware dearly and in the end they had to settle for third place on the podium.
Damien King said ‘Not a great race this morning, 20th, which meant we finished third overall. But we had a good race this afternoon and we’re happy with that third.
‘Another great Winters regatta but it was so cold, never worn so many layers of clothes in Queensland, still it was good sailing
‘Very happy that the traditional stayed alive - now 15 winners from 15 championships.’
Dave Clark who was beaten into second place on a count back last year, was shaking his head as he worked away de-rigging Fifteen. 'We started badly all regatta but in that last race we got into the rhythm and we found clear air and the rest takes care of itself. That last race win is what we will remember from this regatta, the rest was very forgettable.’
Mark Thornburrow finished sixth overall. ‘This was our fourth Winters and it was another good regatta.
‘There will be two Hong Kong Boats at the Sydney Worlds. I sail here a lot, I did the 505 Worlds at Hamilton Island. In preparation for the Worlds we will sail the NSW titles then the pre-Worlds.'
Peter McNeil, the 2004 Mooloolaba Worlds winner finished eighth this year. ‘Good weather and good breezes. We’ve won the big regatta here but never the Winters. Very tricky location, very challenging and the event always attracts a good fleet.'
Hong Kong based Ante Razmilovic, 20th overall, after finishing second in the Irish Worlds said simply ‘It took us a while to work out the course. It’s a good place to sail. 15 different winners in 15 years - I can see how that happens.
‘I will bring my boat down in September for a good Worlds campaign.’
Full results available at http://www.mooetchells.yachting.org.au/
Mooloolaba Etchells Fleet - Musto Etchells Australasian Winter Championship
9th to 12th June 2011
Pl B# Crew From 1 2 3 4 5 6 Tot
1 29 T. King, D. Edwards, O. McMahon & I. Wheen Sydney 2 4 2 1 13 (42\DNS) 22
2 17 M. Tonner-Joyce, G. Gibson & J. Collingwood Melbourne 9 1 14 (16) 4 2 30
3 26 D. King, A. Butler, S. Cunnington & J. Ware Melbourne 3 5 (42\BFD) 2 20 3 33
4 09 M. Johnson, C. Brook & N. Burfoot Sydney 7 (36) 16 3 6 5 37
5 19 M. Bulka, S. Nichols & B. Solly Melbourne 12 (16) 11 8 1 7 39
6 06 M. Thornburrow, M. Mok, G. Gibson & S. Cooke Hong Kong 15 (18) 6 4 5 10 40
7 15 D. Clark, S. Leonard & A. Smith Sydney (26) 22 9 12 2 1 46
8 39 P. McNeil, D. Gleadhill & S. Reffold Lake Macquarie 6 17 5 (18) 10 9 47
9 12 G. Boyd, J. Boyd & A. May Lake Macquarie (28) 2 15 14 11 8 50
10 38 M. Langford, W. Howard, S. Ryan & J. Skelton Lake Macquarie 18 3 18 11 3 (27) 53
11 03 J. Tilly, J. Arnold & S. Billingham Sydney 16 14 (19) 9 8 11 58
12 35 K. Sinclair, G. Prosser & T. Wyborn Lake Macquarie 21 (27) 3 7 9 22 62
13 11 J. Strong, N. Wittey, M. Burke & T. Wittey Sydney 8 (41) 10 15 24 6 63
14 05 A. Razmilovic, P. Backe & S. Flinn Hong Kong 13 8 8 (29) 15 20 64
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.