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iSails 2020 - February - LEADERBOARD

2020 Etchells Australian Championship at Royal Brighton Yacht Club - Day 4

by John Curnow 11 Jan 08:26 PST 7-12 January 2020
A moment's sunshine comes to greet the fleet. - 2020 Etchells Australian Championship day 4 © John Curnow

How would you like your moguls? Do you want them steep and regular? Well do we have the perfect racetrack for you. Just off the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, and to the East of the main shipping channel, Port Phillip created a special place that was cold and nasty, horrifically wet, and yet there were smiles all around. Certainly once everyone had got back to the quay at least, anyway...

The leading Corinthian vessel is in fifth place overall, so clearly all the coaching by Johnny Rodgers and Adrian Finglas is paying off. In addition to all of that, today they won Race Four, which is a spectacular achievement at anytime, and even more so when you look through the assembled crews that include multiple World Champions, Olympic Medallists, America's Cup legends, SailGP heroes, and Round The World Demi Gods.

Brett Taylor Kirwan Robb, Rodney Muller, Brett Taylor and young Josh Garner from Triad (AUS 1383), do take a bow. Back on land, Taylor (Mainsheet Hand) would say, "The secret was trying to get the boat going as quickly as you can through the lumps. On the first run downwind of the day we were not really doing well, so we got Rodney back, and we were able to pump the sails on the waves."

"It is a pretty good feeling when you realise you are in front of the calibre of sailors that are assembled here. Josh Garner is ten years of age, and a Cadet sailor, so we were certainly making sure he knew exactly what we had achieved. That high level means it is really hard to gain anything, and you can quickly go backwards if you make mistakes."

"Being the leading Corinthian, means we have to work out when we can celebrate this race win, and hopefully the Trophy as well, should tomorrow go to plan. We all go back to work on Monday, so Sunday does not work, and Saturday night may affect our performance tomorrow. It is a conundrum. The main objective for us is to have fun, and it is the same on the big boat (Ikon) as well. It is recreation after all, and certainly some good results helps. Also good that we did not break anything today, so we are in good shape for tomorrow." (The next Corinthian crew is currently in twelfth place overall, and 22 points adrift, but sailing can certainly be cruel.)

Mark Roberts is the skipper of Fumanchu, which is crewed by Jake Newman and Matthew Johnston. An exhausted Roberts said, "Really, really tough, but really enjoyable. We had a great first race to get the win, a fifth in the second, and tenth in the third. It was all about downwind today. You had to join those waves together, and in the first race we did that well, and held out John Bertrand and Iain Murray to get across the line."

"We also did it well in the second race, but the most pleasing was how we clawed back in that first race of the day (R3) after a terrible start. We were in 19th place at the weather mark for the first time in Race Five , and the starts are brutal. In the third we had to peel out into some bad lanes after being squeezed off the line by Magpie, and it took us a while to get back. Hooking up some good runs was what helped. Really happy with the day as it stands. Soreness is nearly the only thing I can think of. Some analgesic will be utilised tonight, that's for sure."

So if it was a big day for the sailors, then being on anchor, tugging on the rode for around six hours in up to 2m seas would have to be classed as distinctly unpleasant. Principal Race Officer, Mark Taylor, said, "It is part of the job description unfortunately for the Race Management team. Today we were just thankful we had decent breeze all day from roughly the same angle. It was fairly shifty, so some of the crews really used that well, but the average was 170 degrees. The swings saw us record down to 140, and up to 200 degrees, but they did not hang around for long. They were just flicks and luckily for us, flicked back, as well."

"What it all means is that without the need to move marks we can be really efficient, and so today the races were all around the 60-minute mark (Axis was 170 and range was 1.5nm). It stayed in a pretty narrow band of 14-19 knots all afternoon. All in all it was quite remarkable and did pick up (into the 20-25knot bracket) just as we were leaving the course, so that too is wonderful news. It was an efficient day at the office and we are all set to have two races tomorrow from an 1100hrs AEDT warning signal. If it all comes off we will have a full series in place, and that was under question yesterday as the front approached."

Clubhouse leader overnight is Magpie. Graeme Taylor, James Mayo, and Tom Slingsby are on a paltry eight points, the result of a pair of first places and second and fourth places throughout the regatta. They are five points clear of training partners Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Richie Allanson, who were On Course Side in the last race of the day, and got an early retirement for their troubles.

Just one point astern of them are John Bertrand, Noel Drennan, and Jake Lilley, with Roberts, Newman and Johnston a further five back, and just the one point clear of Triad. Magpie won the last race of the day, quite commandingly.

James Mayo was ultra clear that there is still one day and two races to go, which can impact on everything. Mayo also added, "We are still finding our finding our rhythm as a team, and when we lock it in, we are getting some good speed. I think generally downwind we have a lot more to gain, and this is true in a way for everyone. Teams that can keep it on the boil all the time will do well, for there are significant gains on offer."

"There were some soft spots too, and you have to look at your modes. Equally, if you arrived into one and did not gybe out looking pressure, then other boats really made some gains on us."

Magpie are very keen to be Australian Champions once more, and certainly secure a World Championship, which will be the Maiden one for Skipper, Graeme Taylor. "This regatta is really important, because it lays a foundation and therefore some momentum going forward. The conditions here are not all together dissimilar from what will occur in Perth. So yes, there will be things to think about and work on. We certainly want this under our belt."

James Mayo has been a marvellous Ambassador for the Etchells Class and has created a Foundation to address pathways for youth sailing to embrace these boats. He was the first to secure some of the new boats created by his friends Iain Murray and Richie Allanson. His next one is going to be ready in time for the 2020 World Championship in Perth. The incredible thing about it all is that he will also have another new boat made available for the best youth crew to use when over there.

It will be run from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and under the auspices of the Sydney Fleet, and already has many donations and craft made available. They will also be fully maintained by Richie, so that they will be step in and go. It is terrific legacy that he is building.

"I wanted to have the same boat in Miami, Sydney and Perth. In addition to the youth boat, David Dunn bought one of the craft I had secured, and helped the Foundation along by placing a handy donation. Our goal is to have four teams at the Worlds in Perth. Martin Hill has donated his boat into the Foundation, as too has Rupert Henry. It is all about making sure the teams enjoy their time on the water, that the boats operate faultlessly, and also they can get good results. Hopefully they will also tell all their friends. This is such a wonderful class, and this is all part of generating a clear path forward", said Mayo.

Many thanks to all the volunteers and officials from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club who are making the racing possible. We will be here, and also on the Australian Association Facebook page, and the event website.

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