Photo Credit: RQYS Volunteer Beryl Roberts
The 2018 Queensland Championship for the Etchells Class has concluded at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, and despite it only being the curtain raiser for the upcoming Etchells World Championship, it must surely go down as one of the most spectacular regattas in this history of Etchells in Australia.
Congratulations to the new Queensland Champion, and new Queensland resident, Tom King. Iron Lotus’ regatta performance was a steady progression from good, to better to best, which indicates he will be one to watch with crew David Edwards, Greg O’Shea, and Ivan Wheelan on fine form, but his fellow former World Champions will be looking to leapfrog next week.
For the first two days of the regatta competitors battled big winds, squally conditions, and a racetrack that was as much an opponent to them as any fellow entrant in the 73 Boat fleet. The 25 knot winds brought from an intense weather system, combined with a vicious sea-state, made for conditions that would test sailor and their boats. Boat handling in these conditions is a fraught exercise, out-of-control jibes, and difficult bear-aways test the Seamanship of even the most experience; with incidents claiming multiple rigs over the two days, and the team on Knot-Easy being faced with a large hull penetration and the boat having to be towed almost underwater back to the dock.
Even when many term the conditions “survival” it is still the steady hands of former World Champions that lead the way, with Americas Cup Legends and former Olympians John Bertrand (scoring 1st ,2nd) and Iain Murray (scoring 2nd, 3rd) who led the field for consistency over two races, with fellow Olympian Tom King putting aside an 18th on the first day to win the second race.
Day 3 brought a significant change in conditions, as the foul weather moved on and the sun shone on some perfect bay racing conditions, with Andrew Wills from New Zealand taking the first race of the day, and Tom King securing another win in the next. The final saw a number of BFD’s, with top mark leader Mark Thornburrow from Hong Kong called over, while Lawrie Smith from Great Britain took the final win of the series.
The Etchells Brisbane fleet showing at the event is significant, with the largest number of boats the fleet has ever fielded qualifying for the event. Leading the Brisbane contingent is former World Champion crew Matt Chew, along with Brian Donovan, Ash Deeks and Ben Vercoe on GenXY, with 4th on the first day to sit inside the top 5 after conditions Matt described as “the wettest he has ever sailed an Etchells in.”
Along with Chew, there were some solid results from Brisbane Sail-Maker, and skipper of Super-Maxi Blackjack Mark Bradford. Mark and his team aboard “Log” showed consistency in the warm up event, but he, fellow Blackjack sailors Vaughen Prentice, and Daryl Hutchinson, along with young RQ sailor Carissa Bridge, will know that it’s a long haul through to the end of the worlds, and progress in performance moves far in a week on the water.
Rio Olympian, and Manly local Jake Lilley, and his team of Lewis Brake and Matt Wearn, have turned some heads stepping into the Etchells from their own Olympic Campaigns. Lilleys 3rd in Race 4 of the regatta may show some of what could be expected from the next generation of sailors for whom the chance to compete against many of their childhood heroes is a fantastic opportunity. For Lilley the chance to compete in the regatta was given to him by Squadron Vice Commodore Barry Cuneo, who’s support of Youth and Olympic sailing as a benefactor is one of several examples in the fleet of the increasing promotion of the Etchells as an age equaliser class which can bring sailors of all ages to compete.
The World Championship competition commences with the Practice Race on Sunday, lighter conditions are anticipated for the first few days of the event. With over 90 boats registered the spectacle will be one of the most spectacular regattas Australia has seen in recent years, with this being the biggest World Championship the class has seen in 4 years.
Entries are now flowing in for both the Sunshine Coast Ocean Regatta and its feeder race Brisbane to Sunshine Coast. SCYC Members and their families are excited about welcoming this […]