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Etchells Victorian Championship at Royal Brighton Yacht Club - Overall

by John Curnow 9 Mar 05:45 PDT 7-9 March 2020

The reigning Etchells World Champions, Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Richie Allanson secured the 2020 Victorian title with a race to spare. After placing second and sixth in the first two races of the day, they headed back to the Royal Brighton Yacht Club to put Havoc back on her trailer for the journey to Sydney.

Finishing in second place overall was Magpie, which is crewed by Graeme Taylor, James Mayo, and Tom Slingsby. They were three points astern of the leaders in the end, whose worst result for the regatta was a sixth place. Interestingly, Magpie's worst was a fourth, it is just that they did not have the string of bullets (firsts) to match Havoc.

Chris Hampton, Charlie Cumbley, and Jamie Lea on Tango finished in third place, some nine points further back. Cumbley and Lea also travelled the farthest to be part of it all, from the UK, with others coming from Thailand, and the East Coast of Australia to be part of this vibrant class.

Iain Murray said of it all, "It is always nice not to have to race the last one, as you can come in, clean up, and get set for the trip home tonight."

Reflecting on getting one back on Magpie since the win in Texas (Worlds) last year, Murray added, "You look back over the weekend and we had a great day on Saturday, which set us up, and allowed us to sail the boat expansively, with not too much pressure. It is always good to win, especially against Magpie (who are their close training partners), and to see all the new boats doing well, and affording everyone a race win at some point. Those who won them are all class acts, and the competition this week has been terrific."

Now it took until the finish of the last race, but The Cure, David Clark, Ray Smith and Ben O'Brien eventually secured the Corinthian Trophy over the crew on Triad (Kirwan Robb, Rod Muller, and Brett Taylor) who had lead that challenge until the very last race.

Smith said after they had secured the win by two points and placed fifth overall, "It is a pleasure to sail in this really competitive fleet. We set about to do the best we can against the best in the country, and it is always a challenge. To consider ourselves Corinthian for this event is fantastic, and to knock off Triad who are the National Champions and sailed really well here is terrific. They should be commended on their result (sixth overall) as well."

"We're pretty happy with our scorecard, which is reasonably consistent. It was not by any means a clean regatta for us, we were struggling being a new crew for this regatta, but Ben did a tremendous job up on the bow, and we got it together. We improved as things went on, including our speed, and also starting."

"Overall it was a really enjoyable regatta, and great to do the nine shorter races. It gives you an opportunity to improve each time, and the weather Melbourne turned on has been absolutely brilliant." Reflecting on the range of conditions served up, Smith added, "It is nice to use both jibs. The Race Committee set really fair courses, and so overall we are happy with the whole weekend."

Once back ashore Mark Thornburrow said, "Racer CC is just two weeks old, and we had it cranked up today (to win Race Seven and finish fourth overall), and we're learning how to sail it. We're certainly getting much better. Richie (Allanson) builds great boats and everything works well on it. We are taking her back to Sydney, then off to the Australasian Championship in Mooloolaba, with Perth (Worlds) in November after that. It is also good to have Mal (Page) back in Australia again, so that he can sail more. Before we could only do the Worlds, now we can do three or four in between, which is much better."

Australia's dual Olympic Gold Medallist, Malcolm Page, spoke about being back home and racing more often. "It is super exciting to be here again. Like hand to glove. My heart lies here, and to be back on these shores is perfect. Have not had much time to sail in the recent years, and the logistics of getting us all in the same place has been tough, but we have Mark in Thailand, and a new Allanson/Murray Etchells to sail that resides here, which we're stoked with."

"It is a beautiful boat, but it will only be a weapon if we pull them on and let them off at the right time, but that is why we have to sail more. It was great to get the gun-to-gun win. Actually I have a gun case in my car, but it is the B&G wind gear that we will use whilst we work with Will and Sam Phillips (Australia's 49er representatives) this week."

"The NSW title was our christening event, and we wanted to perform much better here in Melbourne, where we raced much better. As we know, when you practice and train, you get it right and can reach your potential. I love this sport, I love the Class, and I love sailing with Mark and the crew, and it all comes together for a brilliant year both with work (Victorian Institute of Sport) and my own sailing", said Page in closing.

Chris Hampton's recently refreshed Tango won the penultimate race of the day. "It was encouraging for us because we have been a little off the pace the last couple of regattas. We have changed our jib selection, and set up to be more akin to the current leaders and it has worked well, because we were up to speed and in the mix straight off. It was the main thing we wanted to achieve with this regatta, and now that we're up there we need to settle down, and be composed with our tactics, all set for the intensity of the Worlds. It was a great event and our third with Jamie Lea, who is filling in for Sam Haines whilst he is off with America's Cup duties, and it take a bit of time to get our communications in order, and that too has now occurred, so we look forward to the next events."

John Bertrand had his new Triad 2020 out racing with Grant Crowle in for Noel Drennan, and Jake Lilley on the bow. They secured two individual race wins, including the last of the nice race series, to finish in eighth place overall, which shows you just how tough it is at this end of the fleet. "Long time in between drinks in this fleet at the moment", was how Bertrand put it. "It is also a good thing too."

"It is all building up to the World Championship in Fremantle, it is clear that the fleet is getting very focussed. Magpie just returned from winning the Mid-Winters in Miami, and then they're second here in this extremely intense racing. It all shows the calibre of the fleet here in Australia. The class is healthy and the top One Design tactical racing in the country. It is just incredible to be involved and the sailors and sailing is impressive, particularly the young people coming through, and it is terrific for our sport on the whole."

Reflecting on the new shorter race format, PRO Ross Wilson said, "I was a little bit concerned when we discussed with the organisers a few weeks ago, as to whether it would work. However, the feedback has been really positive. We targeted 45 minutes, and had all the races fall between 41 and 50, with the majority at 45 to 46. I am not sure if it would work with fleets over 35 boats, as you need to compensate for the longer start line, but this was brilliant for our fleet of 25 here."

"When you run these, and to keep the ball rolling, you cannot have too many General Recalls, UFDs or Black Flags, as it makes everybody hang around too long. The crews were great about it, and respected the line and the Race Management team, which made it so pleasurable. It makes it better for everyone, and can go for it, without being penalised."

"We have done a lot of racing here at Brighton, and the team is fantastic, getting about their tasks effectively, and efficiently. They did a brilliant job. I congratulate them all the way around the course on the different boats. Having them know their roles and responsibilities meant we could get about running these back to back races much easier", said Wilson reflecting on the vast army of volunteers who make these sorts of regattas possible.

Find results and more information here.

You can replay the live broadcasts from the water at facebook.com/EtchellsAustralia

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