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Etchells Victorian Championship at Royal Brighton Yacht Club - Day 1

by John Curnow 7 Mar 2020 05:51 PST 7-8 March 2020

With the reigning World Champion, current Australian Champion, the Corinthian winner from just two months ago, and crews full of Olympians, World Champions and offshore legends, the fleet for the 2020 Etchells Victorian State Championship is white hot.

Race Officers Ross and Kevin Wilson, along with their team, delivered three brilliant, short, sharp, and virtually back to back races of around 45 minutes each. The weather obliged as well, coming mainly from around 190 degrees, and going from eight to about 16 knots, but spending most of the day in the 11-12 zone. Even the sun made a welcome appearance for the last race.

Today, the scoreboard was all about the reigning World Champions, Havoc. Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Richie Allanson took three wins from three races to stand clear atop the leader board, as if to be looking out from the top of the Alps. Their early stake to claim the title affords them a seven-point buffer overnight.

The crew had certainly learned some things form the recent NSW State Championship and was keen to implement them. It would seem they heeded well the lessons delivered. Murray stated, "Thanks. We had a good day. It is pretty tight out there. The difference between a good day, and a bad one is not that much. We managed to start behind the line, which we have had some trouble doing recently."

"It was a beautiful day's sailing out there. The breeze came up and you have to gear the boats down a little bit. A good test in all the conditions, and it ended up quite windy on the way home."

Reflecting on their own significant pace at times, Murray added, "Sailing the boats reasonably regularly means you are able to do things a little bit better. Better concentration, better rhythm between the three of us on board, and if we can sail it more accurately it certainly goes faster."

In discussing the very significant three bullets (first places) Murray typically down played it all by saying, "What's important is that we bring our best game to the table each day, and we'll see how that fares. Our game is to go out and sail the best we can by minimising the mistakes we make. We did not have a perfect day today. The scorecard might say that, but it wasn't. This really is the beauty of sailing - we learn every day."

Now one did not have to look to far to see a lot of promise. Yes Kirwan Robb, Rod Muller, and Brett Taylor from Triad sit in fourth place overall, and are the leading Corinthian crew, but back in 16th place are four young sailors who were having their very first outing in the Etchells.

Sail Number 651 might be old, but the youth crew from the host, the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, lit it up like it was the same as the newest, which happens to be Mark Thornburrow's Racer CC (AUS 1482).

At any rate, Josh Galland, George Henderson, Ethan Hosking, and Lewis Sloane are for more used to flying around in their 29er Skiffs. Speaking with Galland, he commented, "Pretty big boats, compared to what we're used to, and they're a lot heavier. As opposed to the skiff, where you can have up to a leg separating the first and the last boats, but in the Etchells it is less than 100m, and there are not many areas for passing lanes. It is awesome racing."

"It's a lot of fun, and very tactical. On the last lap of second race we were neck and neck with John Bertrand (Triad 2020 he is sailing with Jake Lilley and Grant Crowle), and I think we just pipped him on the line. It was pretty nerve-racking, but also really encouraging. Learning a lot from the good guys has been great", said Henderson reflecting on the 'names' in the fleet.

Josh then added, "Yes. In the first race George said, 'Hey. There's (Tom) Slingsby. We're not doing too badly."

There are two more days with three races on each to complete the series and to discover who can win on Melbourne's ever-challenging Port Phillip.

Results and information at rbyc.org.au/calendar-event/etchells-victorian-state-titles

See www.facebook.com/EtchellsAustralia for live broadcasts from the water and updates

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