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Panacea - Sailing Etchells is always the cure

by John Curnow 18 Nov 2019 17:23 PST

The Etchells Queensland State Championship was held from November 8 to 10. Southport Yacht Club was the host from both its Main Beach and Hollywell (Runaway Bay) facilities, with the racing conducted offshore along the glorious Gold Coast.

Now get ready for the Smiths; collecting another win after their first Queensland State title in 2017, were David Clark, Andrew Smith and Alan Smith (no relation). In 2017, Clark, and Alan Smith were joined by long-term crewmate Ray Smith (no relation) and a young Mitch Luxton for that win on board, The Cure (AUS 1445). It is important to note this, for in the lead up to the 2020 World Championship in Perth, the latter crew are getting the band back together.

Clark, who is the Vice-President of the International Etchells Class Association of Australia, and an International Governor, is delighted that The Cure is showing the way of getting the next generation of Etchells sailor into the Class. "It is terrific to have the crew for the next 12-months all sorted as we head to the Worlds. Before all of that is the Nationals in Brighton, where Mitch is going to forgo the last day of his Optimist Australian Championship, in order to be on board with us."

"We sailed 30kg underweight, so thank God it was light. Predominantly it ranged between 5-18 knots, with an untidy seaway and confused moguls to deal with. We were third in the first of the six races and then got four bullets, electing not to race the last due to various constraints."

"It was close despite what the results might have you think, and it was terrific to see such a strong Corinthian contingent racing together offshore of Southport. The fact that the local and predominantly young crew on 1165, who ranged from 11 years to late 50s, beat the very accomplished crew of Encore (Peter Conde, Miles Baron-Hay, and Brian Hellier) to secure second place overall is wonderful. So well done to Ben Leigh-Smith, Jabin Crisp, Zac Crisp, and Phil Kellond-Knight for their great effort", added Clark.

"On the water the regatta was great and there was also a terrific feel at the Hollywell annexe too, so we enjoyed it a lot. Gold Coast Fleet Captain, Greg Forgan-Smith and his team did a good job, and the whole affair was very social. All in all it was good to go for a sail in wonderful conditions, and clear the brain - super enjoyable!"

In a way having Andrew 'Spot' Smith on board was also a case of back to the future, for the three raced together in the 2012 Etchells World Championships off Sydney. They placed fourth then, and also won a race too.

"Spot has been sailing a lot with Jud Smith, so we were keen to learn from him. We knew we had a good VMG mode, but we struggled in Brisbane last year, so he helped us find a different mode upwind. We worked on specific trim settings for our North Sails cross cut, GT jib that we used here, and it suits this set up."

"Etchells is always the sum of the parts, so we are always working on fine tuning all the aspects. The new jibs are a good learning curve and very interesting. Nothing is for free, and you have to ensure you are all working 10 tenths to extract the best from it."

Making up the 13-boat fleet were entrants from the host, as well as five from the Brisbane Fleet, and one from each of Hong Kong and Sydney. Class luminary, Noel Paterson commented on the conviviality of it all, "First night fever definitely hit the fleet hard, and several crews were looking a little over trained as they left the dock for the first race. The Front Bar (Bradley Ginnivan, Ben Varcoe, Alex Watson, and Emily Scott) won the trophy for this, but was not awarded a prize."

As always, great camaraderie exists inside the Class, with the Brisbane Fleet very appreciative of the Gold Coast forgoing their right to hold the State Championship for the last couple of rotations, in order for their Race Management team to gain valuable experience ahead of the 2018 World Championship. The praise was reciprocated, with Forgan-Smith commenting, "We really appreciate the support of the Brisbane Fleet, who are really skilled."

"It is really good to have so many females and young sailors involved. We had four women competing, including Fast Eddy's owner Julia Clare and her crewmember, Tomoko Nakanishi, who is a regular Etchells sailor with us, and a former participant in the Japanese Olympic programme. Three teenagers, 11, 14 and 18 years, from our SYC youth programmes also took part. Yet the highlight was that this was the first time we have had a boat from our fleet on a podium, anywhere!"

Interestingly, the boat known originally as KA-2, and the first totally Aussie-made Etchells from back in the John Savage era of the late 60s/1970 was out there still sailing. Rooster actually finished in 10th place, and may have done better, had it not been for them not securing the lock nut on the lowers and the rig tumbling down in the last race. Steven Humphris, Kelvin Holdt, and Darran Cowling were fine and took it well.

You can see some of the racing off the Gold Coast from Day One in below short video and go to to start your own journey in Australia's premier One Design Class.

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