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Etchells Victorian Championships at Metung Yacht Club - Trophies presented by Geoff Henke

by Jeanette Severs 30 Jan 06:21 PST 26-28 January 2024
Ireland Girl and her crew after they completed the last race in the International Etchells class Victorian Championship 2024 © Jeanette Severs

Venerated Australian sportsman and Australian Olympic Committee official, Geoffrey Henke AO AM, was the guest of honour and presented trophies for the Etchells class Victorian Championship 2024 last weekend.

The Victorian Championship regatta was contested at Metung, in Victoria, Australia, and hosted by Metung Yacht Club.

Henke is a former Australian ice hockey player and was chef de mission of the Australian Winter Olympic delegations for six Games, from 1976 until 1994. He was inducted into the Sport Australian Hall of Fame in 1993 as a General Member for his contribution to Winter Olympic administration.

He became the inaugural chair of the Olympic Winter Institute (Australia) and was made an Australian Olympic Committee life member in 1998.

Henke was in Metung with his wife, Gweneth Henke (nee Molony) who competed in figure skating for Australia in the 1952 Olympic Winter Games and the World Championships in Paris that followed.

Henke has a long association with Metung Yacht Club. He was a friend of the late Alexander (Alec) Milledge, who was instrumental in bringing the Etchells class to Australia.

Milledge was a resident of nearby Nungurner, and he and Henke registered the first Etchells class yachts at Metung Yacht Club. They had sailed together from childhood, and were also members of Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

Metung Yacht Club was also honoured to welcome Sue Milledge, Alec's widow, and their daughter, Jane McDonald, during the past week. Sue Milledge remains a member of Metung Yacht Club.

On Sunday evening, January 28, Geoff Henke presented trophies to the sailors who had won or podium-finished in the Etchells class Victorian Championship 2024.

After six races and two days of racing between 17 boats on Lake King, at Metung, the series results gave podium finishes to three local yachts: 1st Ireland Girl, 11pts; 2nd Jindavik, 12pts; 3rd Come Monday, 20pts.

Jack Abbot, on the helm of Ireland Girl, sailed with a youth crew and his father, Nigel Abbott, who is a previous World Champion in the Fireballs class, was on board the defending yacht in the 1986 America's Cup race in Western Australia's waters, and is an East Gippsland Etchells champion.

Abbott junior and senior were supported by James McLennan and Jack Felsenthal, who have sailed regularly on the Gippsland Lakes, usually supporting Jack Abbott in The Archer.

Jack Abbott borrowed Ireland Girl from MYC member, Kim McKendrick, and the entire crew are fresh from representing Metung at the recent NSW and Australian championships in Sydney. Their best race result at the Australian Championship regatta was a fourth.

Jindavik is owned by Toby Richardson, and his crew were David Rees and Oliver Nicholas. Jindavik is registered to MYC even though Richardson lives in Tasmania. Richardson is the current East Gippsland Etchells Champion and sails regularly in Metung.

Richardson has contested 25 Sydney to Hobart races, on yachts that have won three times and taken line honours three times. A tactician, he combines considerable ocean and lakes racing experience.

Stephen Bull (helm), Stuart Loft and Wayne Smith competed in Come Monday. Bull and Loft have considerable ocean racing experience, including Sydney to Hobart races, and grew up sailing on the Gippsland Lakes.

Their experience was added to by the youthful energy of Smith, who has been sailing in local races for several years with Bull. Bull and Smith are current club champions.

The Corinthian trophy was also won by Ireland Girl and the crew of Abbott, Abbott, Felsenthal and McLennan.

Richardson was presented with the Masters trophy.
Niesje Hees, Commodore of Royal Brighton Yacht Club and skipper of Quandong, was presented with the trophy for First Female Helm.

The Grand Masters division trophy was presented to MYC Commodore Jeff Rose, skipper of Elusive, alongside his crew Rob Conn. Mark Henger, their third crew member, was absent.

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