by Bernie Kaaks
As the fleet headed out to sea for the start of the Syd Corser Regatta, the pre-cursor to next week’s national Etchells championship, they faced a forecast suggesting that the breeze might struggle to reach five knots during the day. Right on the scheduled start time however, a light sea breeze drifted over the Fremantle course area and after a short delay, the first race began in a light breeze which freshened to around eight knots as the morning progressed, strengthening further to 15 knots during the afternoon – perfect conditions for sailing.
Grantham Kitto's the Rat, holding down 7th place after three races - Syd Corser Regatta - Etchells pre Nationals
The mix of skippers in this regatta is newsworthy in itself. America’s Cup legend John Bertrand, Torvar Mirsky (who only recently sat on top of the world match racing leaderboard), Hong Kong champion Mark Thornburrow, current national champion Matthew Chew from Queensland, and a host of former class champions are all chasing the elusive national title. Among the crews were also some very well known names from the local sailing community, indicating just how highly they value top results in this competitive class.
The first race today went to National Etchells president, Jake Gunther, who worked his way to the front of the fleet and having done so, opened up a healthy lead to win comfortably from local champion Peter Chappell.
In race 2, Hong Kong yachtsman Mark Thornburrow was first to the top mark after a good start, favouring the centre of the course where many in the fleet went well south before tacking back. Thornburrow doggedly clung to his lead, with Torvar Mirsky closing the gap but unable to draw level. Mirsky, who was third in the first heat and has recently paid more attention to kiteboarding than sailing conventional yachts, surprised by immediately being right on the pace.
Michael Manford, who was almost unbeatable in the last regatta held in the same course area, finished a disappointing 13th in the first race, but recovered well for a third place in race 2.
Race three turned into a replica event for the top three boats, finishing in exactly the same order, which will have Thornburrow and Mirsky in very good shape after the first day of competition.
More light weather is forecast for tomorrow – let’s hope the weather gods treat us as well as they did today!
YWA President Doug Kerr in Screaming Plum - Syd Corser Regatta - Etchells pre Nationals
Hong Kong based Mark Thornburrow scored wins in races 2 and 3 - Syd Corser Regatta - Etchells pre Nationals
After a general recall and black flag in race 1, race 2 got away clean at the first attempt - Syd Corser Regatta - Etchells pre Nationals
Raymond Smith leads a bunch around the top mark - Syd Corser Regatta - Etchells pre Nationals
National Etchells president Jake Gunter shot out of the blocks with a good win in race 1. - Syd Corser Regatta - Etchells pre Nationals
The ever-consistent Peter Chappell lies in third place after three races - Syd Corser Regatta - Etchells pre Nationals