The ninth and final race in the Etchells World Championship 2012 was scheduled to start on the Manly Circle at 12 noon, Saturday 25 February. However there was a delay due to the lack of breeze. Light cumulus clouds dotted the sky, the offshore swell was around 0.5 metres.
The match up everyone was waiting for was between Tom King (Iron Lotus), the Sydney 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist and winner of the 2011 Mooloolaba Etchells Mid-Winter series and the Etchells World Championship 2012 leader with just this one race to sail, and Graeme ‘GT’ Taylor (Magpie), second on the leader board.
King was looking for a quiet top ten result while ‘GT’ needed to see his Iron Lotus rivals over early; black flagged, anything that might give him the advantage.
Race 9 was set course #1, 2.2nautical miles, 010 axis.
The starter’s gun fired and the fleet was away. Individual recalls on the pin end; OC Peter McNeil (Iris III), James Howells (GBR - Gelert ) and Matthew Chew (Gen XY).
Noel ‘Nitro’ Drennan (Boat X) was leading the tack towards the first mark, ahead of Chris Hampton (Tango 1990). Tom King started to the left of the middle on the port start line and was fifth, and he tacking left again for clear air, as he could not progress in Cameron Miles’ (The Hole Way) dirty air.
Graham Taylor (Magpie) was 13th about 110 metres off the pace, John Bertrand (Triad) probably around 20th, Jud Smith (Roulette) was buried mid fleet another 100 metres back. The wheel has stopped for his Roulette crew.
Drennan was first around, Taylor and King went around the mark, overlapped about eighth or so. Taylor gybed and King covered and the two boats came down the centre of the course.
This Championship is now King’s to lose, if he stays with his rival for the next lap and a half. With Bertrand and Smith well back, Taylor had to win and have King finish 14 or so places back and that is not going to happen from here.
Cam Miles, the 1999 World Champion, closed right up on Drennan, and it looked like he would roll him. But no Drennan escaped. Tom King sailed through GT and was eighth place and on track for a Champion result.
John Bertrand was 16th and Jud Smith 20th, a good recovery from Smith. But he has to sail through the America's Cup icon by three or so places in the next lap to finish up on the podium.
Taylor was now around 250 metres to the right of King and that separation helped a little as he was back ahead of the series leader.
Drennan approached the left hand pin at the bottom of the course, he rounded and headed left ahead of Miles, Hampton and Dave Clarke (Fifteen). Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance) went right from the right hand mark and was third in the race.
Tom King went left and was now fifth, GT went right, well he had to try something but it did not work, and he was back in 10th.
From opposite sides of the course Taylor and King came together again, Taylor on starboard forced King to tack. But King had what he wanted, he engaged with his nearest leader board rival and was on track, coming to the top mark for the last time, to win the 2012 Etchells World Championship.
Bertrand was 16th and Smith 28th. Not a lot of fun. ‘GT’s’ podium place was unthreatened. Taylor was three places ahead of his rival and needed King to incur a penalty at the top mark or the battle was all over.
Drennan continued to chew up the course, he was 100 metres ahead of Miles, then came Mark Bulka, David Clark (Fifteen) and Michael Manford (The Croc). Taylor was just 30 metres ahead of King
Smith was on port, having made enormous gains on the beat. Bertrand was on starboard ant the two were about 200 metres apart as they both headed for the starboard lay line, approaching the top mark. Smith bounced away, and attempted a port lay line entry - a never say die sailor.
Down the run the wind continued to build to around 12 knots, from 030.
Drennan extended heading down the run and was two hundred metres ahead of Miles, who was about two lengths ahead of Bulka. Taylor was seventh, King eighth, Smith 15th. Bertrand advanced up to 10th while Smith dropped back a little.
Drennan headed upwind to the finish, well clear of the fleet. With the finishing line in sight, it was ‘Nitro’ leading Cameron Miles, Dave Clark and Mark Bulka, fighting hard. King was giving Taylor no peace at all and that allowed Bertrand to close up to his rivals, he was ninth. Smith suffered out on the left and was 18th.
At the finish it was Drennan, one minute 19 seconds ahead of Miles, then Clark, Bulka, Tom King fifth, Manford, then Taylor, Hampton, Tim Patton (BER – Incentive), Bertrand 10th and Smith 16th.
The 2012 Etchells World Championship has been decided, at least provisionally.
Tom King and his Iron Lotus team of Owen McMahon, Ivan Wheen and David Edwards won the title from Graeme Taylor and his Magpie crew of Grant Simmer and 'Mothy' Steve Jarvin. John Bertrand’s Triad finished third, with crew Tom Slingsby and David Giles.