Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 Etchells Australians - A mark of consistency

“Spinnakers flying - Day 1 Etchells Australian Championship” Photo by John Curnow
The Murphy & Nye 2010 International Etchells Australian Championship proper commenced this afternoon in bright sunshine and good winds. A strong fleet of 58 boats is sailing on Lake Macquarie from the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club on the Central NSW coast - the regatta runs until Saturday January 16th.

Race 1 of the nine race series was delayed as the Race Committee waited for the nor easterly breeze to fill in. It obliged, eventually, and was from almost due east by then.

After leaving the dock in soft conditions several crews opted for headsail changes, expecting the breeze to build throughout the afternoon. The Committee initially set the course to O75 from Wangi Wangi to Marks Point, 1.3 nautical miles, which reduced any localised effects produced by the headlands that surround the Lake. However, the line was reset to compensate for the shifting breeze.

As the fleet went into start sequence the breeze was blowing 15 knots and building. A general recall was issued for the first start. The Race Committee then hoisted the Black Flag to stop any further rushes of blood and expansion to the day's overall timeline.

The second attempt was a clean start, with total separation between the left and right of the course. The group that pursued the left hand side, was headed by B Squared (Gary Boyd), whilst over on the right of the course, the lead Etchells seemed to find a shift and lifted off the Wangi Wangi shoreline. They were favoured early, but by half way up the first leg, the left-handers got it all back and took the lead spots.

It was a very, very tight fleet that rounded the mark, ‘like ants to the sandwiches at a picnic'.

Boyd hung onto the lead and rounded the mark ahead of Barry (Damien King), Triad (John Bertrand), Magpie (Graeme Taylor), Chill Pill (Rob Bird), North Star (Julian Plante), La Vie Dansante (Chris Pratt), Bananas in Pyjamas (Ian Johnston), Pedro 1 (Kirwan Robb) and then Iron Lotus (Tom King).

At the bottom mark it was B Squared, ahead of Chill Pill, Triad, Barry, Magpie and North Star. Then came Perfect Balance (Mark Bulka), Pedro 1, Dream On (Racer X) (Mark Thornborrow) and Iron Lotus.

At the top mark for the second time B Squared was again first around, followed by Chill Pill, Triad, Magpie and Barry.

At the bottom mark, the placings were very much the same, the top ten mainly swapping positions with themselves.

Magpie (Graeme Taylor) had a problem with their spinnaker retrieval and kept reaching off from the right hand gate.

They resurrected the situation and did not pay too much of a price by the time they all got back up to the top and the gun. The breeze from the middle part of the race on was more like 12 to 15 knots.

A consistent B Squared (Gary Boyd), who had lead at every mark, won Race 1 of the Murphy & Nye 2010 International Etchells Australian Championship.

Gary was certainly a happy sailor. 'We were on the right side at the right time and stayed in control, covering the leaders every time. We'd certainly like to repeat it', he said. Gary sailed with Chris Nicholson on the 49er in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and together with brother John, were the crew on the 18footer, Skilled Engineering.

Second was Chill Pill (Rob Bird), who was 'Very happy to get that sort of result. We gybed early on the first run and got a right hand shift. Second is handy.... perhaps a bullet for the next one?'

Third over the line was Triad (John Bertrand), who in his very circumspect way said, 'We will take third every time (they were third at every corner in Race 1).' He was a also quick to remind everyone that there are 'Eight races to go (so we're a long way from done) and the breeze was up and down a little bit, which adds to it all.'

North Star (Julian Plante), Barry (Damien King), Magpie (Graeme Taylor), Bananas in Pyjamas (Ian Johnston), Iron Lotus (Tom King) took up the other positions, with Steam Packet 7 (Adam Beashel), just making it into the top ten.

Race 2

The Fleet was away in a clean start, with the pin end favoured by all the crews, eighty percent of whom then headed for the left hand or northern side.

At the first rounding, Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance) was showing the way, followed by Lake Macquarie sailor Peter McNeil on Absolute Pearler. Race 1 winner B Squared (Gary Boyd) was third, with Julian Plante's North Star fourth. Triad (John Bertrand) followed them, then Why be Flat (Kane Sinclair), Iron Lotus (Tom King), Tusk (Brad Sheridan), Carabella IV (Matthew McCann) and Echo Beach (Tom Woods).

No change in positions at the bottom mark, although the top three had managed a little breathing space on the rest of the fleet, who rounded one after the other in tight formation. By now, the left side was very favoured for the work back up to the top.

The leaders were stretching away from the fleet, but for positions 16 and back it was still a traffic jam and caught up in that jam was Magpie.

Bulka continued to lead, from McNeil, then it was B Squared, North Star, Triad, Why be Flat, Carabella IV, Tusk, Tango (Chris Hampton) who had moved up into the top ten and Iron Lotus. On the way back down, the breeze had moved a little north, so everyone chose the centre of the course. After the bottom mark, a few brave souls chose the right, but quickly gave up on that idea and headed left once again. The leaders opened a gap and were clearly enjoying their own breeze.

It proved to be Bulka's race with Perfect Balance finishing first, ahead of Peter McNeil (Absolute Pearler), Gary Boyd (B Squared), Julian Plante (North Star) who was pretty happy with the crew's fourth and fourth for the day. Smiling, he was keen to see the results and thrilled to be up there, but mindful of the journey that lies ahead.

Then it was John Bertrand (Triad), Why be Flat (Kane Sinclair), Carabella IV (Matthew McCann), Tusk (Brad Sheridan) and Tango (Chris Hampton). Fantazia (Tom Braidwood) made a first appearance in the top ten to complete the day.

Mark Bulka and the crew of Stephen Young and Mark Tonner Joyce were '…delighted to put a good one in there for the fleet from Royal Brighton in Melbourne. The locals proved you could take each corner in race one, so we decided to have a go!' And what an emphatic statement it was.

Peter McNeil and the team from Absolute Pearler were 'Happy to back in form' after their win in yesterday's Invitation Race. 'The first one (Race 1) was a shocker. We love the left side!'

'Take it any day', was how Gary Boyd commented after finishing the second race with a third. It's no wonder either, for after their win in the first race, they can simply look at the results sheet and scan no further than first place.

Series Results [One Design ET] up to Race 2 (Drops = 0) Place Ties Sail No Boat Name Skipper Crew From Bow No Crew 3 Sers Score Race 2 Race 1

1 AUS1164 B Squared Gary Boyd Tony May LMYC 31 4.0 3.0 1.0
2 3.0S AUS1383 Triad John Bertrand Andrew Palfrey RBYC 55 8.0 5.0 3.0
3 AUS940 North Star Julian Plante Hannah Nattrass RPAYC 13 Michael Dunstan 8.0 4.0 4.0
4 AUS1387 Perfect Balance Mark Bulka Mark Tonner Joyce RBYC 58 9.0 1.0 8.0
5 AUS947 Magpie Graeme Taylor Steve Jarvin MYC 14 19.0 13.0 6.0
6 7.0S AUS1318 Banana's in Pyjama's Ian Johnston Phil Smidmore RBYC 48 21.0 14.0 7.0
7 2R AUS1223 Tango Chris Hampton Ben John Durham RBYC 38 21.0 9.0 12.0
8 AUS925 Iron Lotus Tom King Josh Grace RSYS 12 Paul Baskett 21.0 12.0 9.0