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Aussie Invasion

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 23 Jun 15:00 PDT
Nathan Outteridge JPN with Larry Ellison CTO And Chairman of Oracle. Race Day 2 Event 2 Season 1 SailGP event in San Francisco, © Beau Outteridge for SailGP

It really is terribly hard not to get the Boxing Kangaroo out right now. In the third instalment of SailGP in NYC, Team AUS made it through to their third consecutive final, having won the previous two. The event was won by Team Japan, with Aussie Olympic hero, Nathan Outteridge in command of All Nippon Airways, so we can certainly take a bit of that. It was also great to see Team USA walk away with one race win as well.

Outteridge and the crew can definitely take a moment in the 'sun' now, but for the Skipper of Team AUS, Tom Slingsby, it is time to get on a plane to Corpus Christi, Texas, where the Etchells World Championships begin on Tuesday. He is sailing on the new Magpie (AUS 1471) with Graeme Taylor and James Mayo, and goes from the helm, to the bow, as well.

Although it is a smaller fleet than the much-heralded Brisbane Worlds of 2018, there are still plenty of names in amongst them, like Steve Benjamin, Dirk Knuelman and Lawrie Smith. Reigning World Champs, Lisa Rose (Martin Hill, Julian Plante, 470 genius Mat Belcher, and Sean O'Rourke) are there. So too Class Governor, Chris Hampton's Tango, with Sam Haines and Chalrie Cumbley on board. Then there are individuals, like Andrew Palfrey and Ben Lamb, sailing with Peter Duncan, Peter McNeill with Jan Muysken, Mark Johnson with Jud Smith, and Olympic Gold Medallist and now US Sailing Boss, Malcolm Page, with Mark Thornburrow.

Then there are others, like Noel Drennan, the One Design Manager from North Sails, have just finished things like the 52 Super Series and have crossed the pond to be there. He's driving Les Freaks Sont Chics.

Yet there are two boats at Corpus Christi, that just like so many craft at this location, not only have awesome talent on board, and plenty of pedigree, but share one unique and distinct feature about them. Collectively they have been very much the talk of the regatta, and have backed it all up with some nice results to date too, thank you very much. On the previous weekend some like-minded souls got together, and had what they called 11 races to make a 'Coaches Regatta'. One of the two boats in question won five of those, the other three of them, and there were plenty seconds and thirds to go around, as well.

The two craft are called Allanson Murray Etchells, and are the brainchild of all round nice guy and sailor extraordinaire in many classes, Richie Allanson, as well as another guy who needs not an introduction anywhere in the sailing world, but he's a former World Champion in this class too, one Iain Murray. Of that weekend, Murray said from NYC where he was watching the SailGP, "Our two AM Aussie boats are showing good speed."

As Tom was obviously in NYC like Murray, the teams, who know each other really well, elected to field just the newer of the two boats, Magpie AUS 1471. Graeme Taylor would be on the helm, James Mayo in the middle and Richie on the bow. It meant that Colin Beashel of Australia II fame could have a 'holiday' from his role in the middle of the reigning Australian Champion, Havoc, AUS 1461, as she would not be racing. The 'makeshift crew', who are actually dual, former Australian Champions anyway, did not do all of the races, and that probably suited them, for many sailors still think winning a pre-Worlds puts a hex on your chances for the big one.

Still, Taylor, Mayo and Allanson won one race on the first day and retired in another. Murray commented, "Very challenging conditions here yesterday for all involved. There were 50 degree wind shifts either way and it went up and down range over 20 knots. Good guys show off their experience and skills. GT, Richie, and James were fast in the conditions." Clearly, when the two crews return to the water on Tuesday for the beginning of the 2019 Etchells World Championship, with Slingsby on the bow of Magpie, and Murray driving Havoc with Beashel and Allanson on board it will be game on for everyone, not just them! Good luck to all involved...

All of which brings us straight to the two boats themselves. Allanson said of the genesis to go into production, "It frustrated me for a number of years that Aussies were buying boats from overseas. I could never understand why we could not deliver a world-class product, for we definitely have the skills and abilities. After Iain and I finished the Worlds in San Francisco in 2017, we realised that we wanted to do a new boat."

"We looked at a Heritage, like a lot of other sailors have done, and many of them bought one too. I grew up with Mark Rowed who now has Innovation Composites, and he also worked with Iain, back in the day. We invited Mark to look at it all, and he said, 'We need to lift our game and I am keen to do it!"

"We used Northern Havoc, AUS 1119, as the test bed. We put a new deck on her, and this allowed us to have a clean sheet of paper to refine the deck layout. It was interesting process; I had a basic idea, Iain was there and that enabled the fine tuning of everything. It was quite an enjoyable process working together, and solving the issues. By the time we made Havoc, AUS 1461, we did not need to do wholesale changes, and we have refined it a bit further for the second AM Etchells to be delivered, which is Magpie, AUS 1471."

Others saw and liked what was on display, as Allanson explains. "Jeanne-Claude Strong recognised early on that we were delivering a world-class product, and wanted the opportunity to support an Aussie brand. All credit to her for giving GT and James her build slot, so that they could have the new boat in Texas. Her campaign at Mooloolaba was compromised as a result. JC gets her boat in September now."

Two time Etchells World Champion, John Bertrand takes delivery of his in early October, and by all accounts earlier of he can get it. Bertrand said, "We'll run her in the Australian title in Melbourne in January of 2020, followed up the 2020 World Championship in Perth in November, and I'm looking forward to this programme. Noel Drennan will be with me in the middle, but there is no decision on their third, as yet."

The process for getting one is pretty simple. Richie orders the craft, and then oversees the build from the Australian (approved) mould in this very strict One Design Class. He then works with Mark and the new owner to ensure it is exactly what they all want. "We get a hull and deck only, all ready for fit out. The keel and rudder are faired to our specs, and the deck gear is placed as we require, like on the top of the cuddy, and also the kite blocks. We use carbon soft pad eyes to attach all the fittings, and we designed an entirely new console and floorboards that Mark installs. I am really proud of what we have presented!"

All of Allanson and Murray's efforts were not missed on Nicole Shrimpton, either. "The branding of the new boat was a chance to assist a typically humble breed. The best sailors are usually so modest", said Shrimpton. "They would never have thought to name themselves. It was great to get behind them."

"We wanted to express the sheer level of inspiration and innovation in the boat. I had heard that Bob Oatley had said he thought that Iain Murray thought in colour, when everyone else thought in black and white. That translated into the use of the waterproof rainbow foil."

Shrimpton was the co-creator of the striking iridescent logo with Art Director Therese Leuver, and evidently those boundaries got pushed all the way through both design and production, with boutique print manager, Alaina Short, commenting, "In my thirty years of working in the print industry, I haven't seen this before. We really had to see if it was even possible." The striking iridescent logo will be entered in the annual Australian Print Awards later in the year.

Finally then, and of that nearly secret squirrel business coaches regatta they held, Allanson said, "Doggy (Andrew Palfrey) invited like minded teams to race in a very open manner, where the coaches could get in, and the information was freely available across the boats to help the whole class get better and faster, which is very Etchells thing to do, and is what makes the class so accessible to all sailors. It included crews like Steve Benjamin, Peter Duncan, Jud Smith, and Mark Thornburrow. It all worked in really nicely with our schedule, as the SailGP clash meant we needed it. The Big Fella (Murray), Beasho and I have not raced together since the Australian Championship in Brisbane at RQYS, back in January." A pair of bullets, and a sixth as their drop for their worst result, meant 18 points saw them grab a deserved win by two points over the very unfortunate Gen XY.

Now it was at that very regatta, where the radio chatter one day all centred around Barz Optics sunglasses, following on from a comment during the morning briefing. Kevin Barr is one of the hardest working souls in the industry, although you might not think it based on this image of him testing some of his glasses on his kneeboard recently. At any rate, there is bound to be a lightweight, even floating pair of specs that will suit you, so do please check it out.

Finally, I read that the gorgeous My Song is to be written off. No surprise really, for looking at the pics when she was hauled out in Palma would have told you that... Shame. Big shame.

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review like SailGP, Stars, TPs, Superyachts, AC, 49ers, intel from North Sails, Den Haag (which has shaken off a lot of ungrooviness in recent years) to be all about Youth Sailing in 2021, RNZYS to be a hive of activity in 2021, AC, Five-Ohs, Kieler Woche, Germany in The Ocean Race, gear from ICOM, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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