Already the Etchells NSW State Championship is attracting inter-state entries for 17 to 20 November 2011 event hosted by Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and the Pittwater Etchells Fleet.
The first three entries received are from West Australia, South Australia and Victoria.
All the way from Western Australia, perennial Etchells sailor Dirk Van Der Struyf, will campaign his newly purchased Etchells 832 in the NSW State Championship in the lead up to the Worlds in Sydney in February 2012. Racing with him will be Gordon Blaauw and Richard Rowell. 'I have a slightly new team and I want some time together in the boat and on offshore NSW conditions which hopefully will be similar to what we are likely to experience off Sydney.,' Van Der Struyf said.
The hardest part of the program for this team is planning now to travel to and campaign in Sydney even though the qualification series for the Swan River Fleet doesn’t finish until just a week before the NSW State titles. This will mean the pressure will be on Van Der Struyf, even more so than usual, to win one of the local fleet’s allocated World Championship slots. 'There are about eight skippers who have expressed a strong interest in travelling to Sydney for the World Championship. I suspect at least six if not eight of those guys will be pushing really hard to get qualification places. '
South Australian skipper, Jason Ward, is another skipper with a relatively new crew and the need to test out their skills in open water racing conditions. 'We are using the NSW State Championship event as a bit of a toe in the water to get some experience offshore prior to the Worlds even though we need to compete in the local fleet to qualify for the Worlds.' Ward expects the Adelaide fleet will qualification series, to be held over four weekends in October, will be very competitive with many of the fleet members indicating they are keen to travel to Sydney.
Ward has been racing in the class for about five years. Once he discovered that the Etchells competition in Adelaide was a lot better and fiercer than his then current J24 class, it was an easy move for Ward to make. Since competing in the Melbourne worlds in 2009, Ward and his team have gone to gradually improve their performance at both a local and national level. He is practical though about what his team will be able to achieve during the NSW State title. 'We’re weekend warriors. We’re hoping to get some good start practice and gain the large fleet experience on those offshore waters which we hope will be similar to the course area for the Sydney worlds. '
Closer to home, Victoria’s Chris Dare has sold his successfully campaigned big boat, the Corby 49-foot Flirt, to focus on his young family and his Etchells racing.
Five years into the class, Dare is enjoying spending his time organising just two or three crew and the ease of getting his boat to and from a regatta. 'We can stick the boat on a trailer and take it somewhere and come home quickly. Racing in the class is fantastic. It is good value for money and it attracts really good sailors.
'The NSW guys have come down to Victoria recently to compete so it I think it is fair we make the effort to get up there to support their event,' Dare said.
Dare first visited Pittwater earlier in the year when his youngest son competed there in an Optimist event. He was taken with the club and the racing venue. However, returning to Pittwater in November for the Etchells States Dare knows he has a big task ahead as the racing will take the fleet offshore of Barrenjoey Head. Using the many lessons he learnt helming Flirt on the waters off Sydney Heads he said he is comfortable with challenge ahead. 'I know the waters off Sydney having sailed the keel boat off there before so I know what to expect.'
The Notice of Race and Online Entry is available from the event website http://www.rpayc.com.au/etchells-states