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Etchells Victorian Championships at Metung Yacht Club - Day 2

by Jeanette Severs 27 Jan 00:32 PST 26-28 January 2024

Variable winds from 1.5 to 16 knots and gusting up to 20 and disqualifications were significant features of the conditions sailed to win the International Etchells class Victorian Championships 2024, contested at Metung from January 26 to 28.

There were 17 yachts entered and racing was over two days, after the first day was cancelled because of wind averaging 30 knots across the race course.

Race Officer, John Spencer, called for the AP flag at the morning briefing on day one before the regatta got under way, and by early afternoon he had cancelled racing for the day.

"The wind was well over 20 knots gusting up to 30-plus knots," Spencer said.

"I saw big seas for the Gippsland Lakes system, but very short and they had no backs on them."

The risks to boats and people were unacceptable.

"And the forecast was for no abatement [of the strong wind] during the race day," Spencer said.

Four races were needed for the regatta series, and five for competitors to drop the worst result.

With two days of racing ahead, dependent on the vagaries of wind, the regatta had already been planned with three races per day in mind. Spencer said if there was an opportunity to add races, that would happen.

Each race day would also start earlier, in anticipation of this.

The Victorian Championships in Metung was set to be a contest between 17 yachts; a large contingent of local sailors and half a dozen visiting crews and yachts from Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

Race one on day two, the course was set at 260 degrees (d), with wind at seven knots, and a low swell. Course length was 1.2 nautical mile (NM) and laid east-west from the lee of Tambo Bay towards McMillan Strait.

Three boats were OCS at the start - Tamm Ha Tamm, Playing Around 3 and Jindavik.

The wind had risen to 11 knots when the Etchells made the first windward turn. Apres La Mer, sailed by local sailors Peter Wilkinson (helm), Peter Bull and Adrian Seymour, led the way around the windward gates.

They were followed by Playing Around 3, sailed by Peter Robson from Royal Brighton Yacht Club, with local sailors Bentley Conn, Toby Conn and Oscar Forbes as crew.

Jindavik followed them, sailed by Tasmanian Toby Richardson, who is the current East Gippsland Etchells champion, after winning the title in 2023. Richardson was sailing with one of his usual crew, Oliver Nicholas, and had brought in David Rees for this regatta.

Next around the top gates was all-women crew, Sarah Clough (helm), Lee Renfree and Pip Moore, on board New Wave. Clough is a past Australian and Victorian champion in the J24 class, a Victorian champion in the International Dragon class and, on the helm, took line honours in Adelaide in the 2023 women's keelboat regatta, finishing second on handicap.

New Wave was followed by local boat Come Monday, sailed by Steve Bull (helm), Stuart Loft and Wayne Smith, then Men's Shirts Short Skirts crewed by Peter Stubbings (helm), his sister Anne Stubbings and Ross Melville. Men's Shirts Short Skirts is from Royal Brighton Yacht Club and the crew have sailed her regularly on Lake King.

Positions in the top three didn't change during the next leg. With a blistering pace, Apres La Mer approached and went around the windward gates the second time, well ahead of the fleet.

Playing Around 3, Jindavik, Basic Instinct, Come Monday, Ireland Girl and Men's Shirts Short Skirts - in that order - contested the windward gates in a fast bunch.

Basic Instinct and Ireland Girl were crewed by local young men, with one significant difference.

Basic Instinct had Tom Russell, Mitch Kanat and Will Llewellyn on board - Russell and Kanat were brought up sailing on the Lakes. Ireland Girl was also full of local youths - Jack Abbott on helm, with Jack Felsenthal and James McLennan in crew, supported by the strategic on-board experience of Nigel Abbott, a past world champion and Jack's father.

The last windward-leeward leg was crucial to set the result. Apres La Mer crossed the finish line first, followed by Ireland Girl in second place, then Basic Instinct.

Race two required a course reset, and a long delay. Reset was 290d, with a five knot wind, and the course was shortened to 1.0NM. Then the AP flag was raised.

The start boat was in the lee of the land, registering 1.5-2 knots. Other course boats measuring the wind were further into the lake and registering 8-13 knots, as the wind swung from 210-250d. At 13 knots, the water was short choppy rolling waves.

Another course reset to 245d, saw the course move out into Lake King and closer to Raymond Island. With a wind reading of 8 knots, the course was reset to 240d but the AP flag was again raised.

The course was reset again, this time well into Lake King, off Luderick Point and towards the lee of Raymond Island, at a bearing of 210d with wind speed at 12 knots, and rolling waves with white caps.

With the wind 13 knots gusting to 16 knots, and nearly four hours after race one, the course was reset to 195d.

Race two started with a general recall but it was delayed by radio transmission technical difficulties experienced by the RO on the start boat. The restart was held under a U flag and this had a significant impact on race two.

Apres La Mer and Odyssey did not start the race, and Tamm Ha Tamm, Southern Pirate, New Wave and Ireland Girl were disqualified.

Ireland Girl was first around the windward gates, followed by Tamm Ha Tamm, a boat from Royal Brighton Yacht Club and sailed by the international crew of Christian Boillot, Esteban Franco and Phillipe Charret.

Jindavik was next, followed by Men's Shirts Short Skirts, Playing Around 3, Come Monday then Elusive, sailed by Metung Yacht Club Commodore Jeff Rose (helm) with Mark Henger and Rob Conn as crew.

The roll call stayed the same among the leaders during the second leg - Ireland Girl followed by Men's Shirts Short Skirts, then Jindavik. Playing Around 3 had moved up closer to the leaders, followed by Elusive, then local boat Feng Shui with Andrew Perkins at the helm, and crewed by Tim Hall and David Buckland.

At the end of the spinnaker leg, it was Jindavik first, followed by Playing Around 3 then Elusive.

Southern Pirate (injured crew) and Quandong (gear breakage) retired.

Race three was delayed, with a wind shift to 130-150d, and rolling waves supported by a 12 knot wind.

Course length was reset to 1.1NM, 145d and wind of 10 knots.

Apres La Mer and Odyssey - a local boat with Roger Claydon (helm), Brandon Kibby and Leigh Unsworth on board - retired and did not start this race.

It was a clear start in this race.

Tamm Ha Tamm gained an early lead and was first around the windward gates, followed by Jindavik, then Elusive, Ireland Girl, Come Monday, Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous and Feng Shui, in that order.

Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous is a visiting boat but Nick Knezic (helm) regularly contests regattas hosted by Metung Yacht Club. At this regatta he had Mark Lainson and David Poulton as crew.

Between leg one and two, the wind dropped to a breeze and waves flattened, but it had little effect on the leader board. Second time around the windward gates, Tamm Ha Tamm led Jindavik, Elusive, Ireland Girl, Come Monday, Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous, Feng Shui, Men's Shirts Short Skirts, Playing Around 3, Basic Instinct, AUS1292 and Second Chance, in that order.

New Wave (injured crew) retired between the first and second leg.

The race went to Tamm Ha Tamm, followed by Jindavik in second place, with Elusive in third.

At the end of three races on day two, the series scores were close between several boats: 1st Elusive, 13 points; 2nd Come Monday, 13pts; 3rd Jindavik 21pts; 4th Basic Instinct, 22 pts; 5th Feng Shui, 22 pts; 6th Men's Shirts Short Skirts, 22pts; 7th AUS1292, 23 pts; 8th Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous, 23pts.

Race Officer John Spencer said an uncertain wind caused a long day on the water - nine hours with three races completed.

"The wind was tricky and uncertain and we spent a lot of time in the middle of the day waiting for wind to come up," Spencer said.

"We had to shift the course and find the wind, and then when the wind did come up it was very strong."

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