Iain Murray’s Northern Havoc sailing for the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Chris Hampton’s Tango from Brighton, Victoria, maintained the rage to finish first and second at the 2018 Etchells NSW title sailed on Sydney Harbour in superb conditions.
“We’ve had lovely nor’easters for the past two days and quite strong ebb tides which really opened the race course and the opportunities, and you could see this in the scores,” Murray commented. “You had to get a good start and get up that first beat. It wasn’t easy. We had some good races and some less so - in the end our tough races weren’t as tough as for others.”
Murray and Hampton finished day one Captain and Commander respectively, and that’s how the final series scores panned out, just a single point separating the two front-runners after three days of hard grind hosted by the Sydney Etchells fleet.
“Iain and his crew really won the regatta on Saturday when they carried on with a broken backstay in the second race and then with a jury-rigged set-up posted a good score in race 6,” said Sydney Etchells Fleet Captain Mike Tyquin adding, “That performance really underlined how well they sailed”.
Martin Hill’s Lisa Rose moved into third overall from a 40-boat fleet representing NSW, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria. Hill is spreading himself across two classes approaching the season-end; the Farr 40 nationals next month at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron as skipper of HillPDA Racing and the 2018 Etchells World Championship.
“This was our first regatta as a team on the new boat and we are building up to do as well as we can at the Brisbane worlds in October we’ve luckily already qualified for,” said tactician David Chapman. “We have a three-year campaign planned and we are trying to work out the best crew fit. Martin steers, Julian Plante’s on main and he used to steer, I’m doing tactics and I used to do main and Mark Langford is on the bow.
“In two weeks we are going to defend our Etchells NZ National Championship title, then we’ll do the Victorian States and then we are ramping up for the world championship at RQYS. We’ve committed to next year’s worlds in Texas then Fremantle the year after. After that Martin will decide whether he’s happy to continue; as he says, ‘it’s the best fleet in the world’,” Chapman added.
Matt Chew’s Gen XY was the highest placed Queensland team, fourth in the final standings against Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron clubmate Peter Conde’s Encore in seventh place and winning Etchells Grand Masters.
The Royal Perth Yacht Club team campaigning The Cure finished just outside the top 10 but in terms of their worlds preparation skipper Ray Smith said the series was perfect. “It was fun and challenging with difficult conditions on Friday. We had fairly specific goals for this regatta and while it’s nice to get higher up the results sheet they weren’t the only criteria - we were trying out a couple of new systems and sails, and it wasn’t my boat. A very tough fleet; at least 15 solid crews.”
One of four Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club youth teams cracked a top ten finish on day three, Sunday February 18, 2018, skipper Will Dargaville leading the crew. He described Friday’s outing as “average” then on Saturday in the final race Pam was holed solidly at the bow (not their fault). A quick duck and sail-repair tape patch job later and the youth crew went back out on Sunday to finish tenth over the line in the series’ final race eight. A lucky draw winning ticket also gifted the team a brand new North Sails jib.
“We’ve been sailing for a couple of months; we’ve never really done big fleet keelboat racing and we improved each day,” the young skipper said. In awe of the talent on display Dargaville added: “the fleet quality this weekend will be hard to beat heading into the worlds.”
The RSYS’ next Etchells event is the Etchells Sydney Fleet’s world qualifying series March 27 to April 7 comprising seven races.
RSYS race officer Rob Ridley said Saturday and Sunday were picture perfect, nor’easters averaging 17 knots and boats spread across the width of the harbour from the start north of Clark Island to the top marks towards Watson’s Bay. “The fact they were using the whole harbour means they felt they could do well right across the course,” Ridley said.
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