NSW Etchells Day 3: Cheers Michael!

The 2015 Etchells NSW State Championship has been won in quite emphatic style by, The Hole Way. Cameron Miles, David Sampson and Grant Crowle collected wins in both races of this final day of racing to firstly leap into the top spot, and then cement their overall triumph. So it is in memoriam to Cameron and Grant’s late friend, Michael Hole, who lost his battle with cancer, the whole crew would like to dedicate this very hard fought championship. So indeed, cheers to both Michael and his family.

Cameron Miles spoke afterwards, “Thanks Michael for the divine intervention and good breezes. Really happy - David and Grant sailed really well today. Great job! We just wanted to start near Gen XY (overnight leader) and stay in contact with them. The focus was on getting away from the line under power, but more importantly, cleanly and conservatively. Not getting Black Flagged was also a big priority.”

“It is wonderful not be second on count back, such as at the recent Australian Championship, and to be the outright winner, with points up our sleeve. We do feel like we earned this one, after knocking on the door a lot of late. We knew we could do it and have done it before, but it has been a while since we have felt this particular joy”, said the former World Champion.

“We might not have sailed as much together of late, and our preparations were not all together that flash, but we were determined firstly in Adelaide (AUS Championship) and then here on Sydney Harbour to really lift, and here we are. It is also a special victory, for these have not been our preferred type of conditions. Heavier winds and coastal seaways are more our thing, but we have probably done better as a team here than we have done for a while, especially today. We communicated well and did not have to say too much.”

“We kept an eye on Gen XY and always made sure we were between them and the mark without worrying too much about our place. Towards the end, however, we were really trying to win! Yandoo XX was very much coming at us, so that was another element to consider, too. You have to watch all the local sailors, as it is not an easy place to sail, particularly on weekends with all the different types of traffic. The traffic management on board The Hole Way today was excellent. We saw all the boats, stayed on the correct side of the ferries, and then you were getting called for rights on Starboard by an Optimist.”

“Hong Kong would be wonderful and likely to be our sort of conditions. If not, Mooloolaba will be the go. All of it is a lead up to Brighton (Melbourne) for the 2016 Australian Championship, however, a championship that you could say after recent times, does leave us with a burning hole!”

Waiting. Waiting. Then let’s get cracking!

Sun was the most obvious change to the morning weather in Sydney this Sunday. It was still, very still actually, but the hope of a Nor’easter arriving was evident. Perhaps this is why many crews took off early to get out to Point Piper, whilst other more prudent ones opted for a tow. The 1100hrs preparatory signals were replaced by the AP, and although there was still that glimmer of breeze, it did remain elusive and as the minutes crept into an hour plus, it even wandered off all together.

Hold the phone, however, for at 1222hrs, the glassy lumps of wake running everywhere from powered craft had taken on a new aspect. It was one of multifaceted angles akin to an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter. Yes. Summer sea breeze. The Race Committee had established a line and we were to go racing. That all meant the warning signal for Race Seven would be at 1240hrs. An axis of 030˚ was prescribed, with Course #1 to be utilised and out to a range of 1.2nm off Clifton Gardens. Three legs with a work to the finish was the task.

After the waiting, a clean stacking up of the fleet all the way along the line was not exactly expected, but it is what occurred, even if a few were to miss out in the game of musical chairs, as it were. Lisa was one to show pace off the line and another was Odyssey with Jill Connell, Wade Morgan and Craig Monk on board.

On the work up to the top, Lisa, Magpie and The Hole Way were in favourable positions in that right hand pocket, but Ciao and Gen XY were also doing well in a more central slot on the track. Shindig was not wanting to be too close to Shark Island, and given that the windward mark was much closer to the Northern side of the Harbour, at some point they had to get over there. The bulk of the fleet was there or in a lot of cases, right in on the shore. If the breeze was just six knots at the bottom it was now fuller and more like a real 10.

At the top it would be The Hole Way, Land Rat, Iris III, Magpie and then Gen XY. Most of the fleet of opted for either the gybe set or a gybe immediately after set and head off to the Southern side, with just six craft going back in to the North. On the run down, the leaders, which were Lisa and Magpie, both gybed to take them in to the Western gate at the bottom. This would set them up to go a long the Northern side, but a course change announced at the bottom meant 040˚ was the new heading for the reciprocal and the finish. That would take the line a little more into the middle of the Harbour.

Rounding after those first two were boats like, The Hole Way, Iris III, Gen XY and Land Rat. However, the most distinct feature was that the Eastern gate was favoured and the sweeping majority would head out towards Shark Island. The Northern side of the Harbour seemed to hold sway with the fleet and so many peeled back off from the right to climb into the centre of the track in the solid 11kn breeze. Lisa was one to be convinced of staying right, but thus far it had not cost them, with the other leaders way over the other side almost lost in the trees.

In a close finish, The Hole Way took it from Magpie and then Lisa, with Gen XY next. Shindig, Animal House and then Top 40 were the top finishers. The implication of it all was that now there was a new regatta leader, with the three points leapfrogging The Hole Way into a one-point advantage.

All right. You can have another then.

Yes another race was on offer and as we already know, another win was in the wind for The Hole Way, but first everyone had to get back down the course and it was probably a good time for lots of crews to have a much needed debrief. Now it was on that run down to Point Piper that we were to come across the fleet of Optimists sailing back from their own mark in the middle of the Harbour. Those little tackers get the biggest praise and nothing fazed them, so the cajones award goes to them all.

Rohan Kerr, Samantha McLaren, Hugo Kerr and Greg Evans sail, The Biz. Now the link to the previous paragraph is that The Biz has the youngest crewmember by at least seven years, and he is not even yet a teenager. Speaking with Rohan afterwards, “Yes that regatta was certainly the biz! There was tough competition out there, awesome fun, a lot of great sailors and it was just nice to be out on Sydney Harbour. Also great to have variation in the conditions, which is what you come to expect with sailing.”

“Then you add in liners, ferries, tourist vessels, large cruisers, Optimists, Mirrors, Moths and 18 Footers, which adds to the flavour. These Etchells are wonderful boats. There are others out there, many I have sailed in the past, but I find the competition in the Etchells to be second to none. You cannot get better. Regattas like these add another level to the overall experience of the class. The Etchells are technical, but being true One Design means it does not matter if you’re a senior in the class or junior, like my son Hugo, we are all out there to enjoy ourselves, and that always happens.”

“There are plenty of heroes in the fleet, and I think Hugo (11 years) did admire the Optimists, but the foiling Moths have very much caught his attention and that’s what he wants to do. I would like to see some more kids in the Etchells fleet, not only because it has high calibre sailors, but also as the competition is so good, and that is something they all need to learn about. You can have a younger soul on board in a four-person crew. He retrieves the spinnaker and is super-alert to all the traffic around, so his eyes out of the boat are wonderful to have and he tells me if we have issues mounting with other craft.”

Rohan has been sailing for 37 years now and in the Etchells for about three and a half of them. “I used to sail Moths back in the low-rider days, and now Hugo wants to get himself up on foils, so we’ll see how he goes with a few steps on the way to getting his own Mach 2. The speed seems to have him hooked. Hopefully we won’t loose a good crewmember in the process of his own development.”

So cheers to young Hugo and all the other junior sailors out there.

Back to Etchells racing and just before the start of the final sequence at 1400hrs the Committee announced Course #1 again, on an axis of 045˚ this time and on a range of 1.6nm, which would be the longest of the regatta! It was all looking good with less than minute to go and then they all powered up quickly and shot over, causing the famous two hoots after the starting signal and it was a General Recall. No surprises then that the Black Flag was once again announced, either.

That meant that 1408hrs would be the new warning signal. Itchy in the middle was the boldest, with Dot at the boat end of the line also testing the waters, as such. What appeared clear was indeed opaque for one, and that was the very unfortunate, Magpie. Last year’s champion was well and truly having the forgettable regatta and the message was both clear and quick after the start, time to go home…

On the way up for the first time, it was virtually an even split between those banking on some better water near Shark Island where the Mirrors were and those looking for any sort of lift of the headlands over on the Northern shores, whilst dealing with more chop. With the bearing at 045, the top mark was almost in Watsons Bay, as a solid sort of 13knots came straight down the Harbour.

The Hole Way would take us in, and then it was Foolhardy, Iris III, Dot, Lisa, Top 40, Adolescence, Yandoo XX and Odyssey. And it was one noisy mark as the perpetual request for room was denied. It was intense. Heading back down, the separation of the fleet was marked by one blue spinnaker leading those coming down the Northern side and then another blue kite performing the very same task over on the other side. The red sails of the Mirrors and then all the white sails of every other craft out that was out therecompleted the picture perfect scenario.

The Hole Way held the lead and never gave it up. Dot was next and then Foolhardy. Yandoo XX chose the Western gate, with Lisa, Fifteen+ and Iris III completing the top order. The Northern side was favoured, with just a few opting for the Southern trajectory. The Hole Way secured a tight win over a fast finishing Yandoo XX, then Dot, Foolhardy, Lisa, Fifteen+ and Iris III.

Rob Ridley was the PRO for the series. At the conclusion he said, “We are very pleased to get the full series of races in for everybody. It was also good to see 38 starters and even 36 in last race means no one was put off by delayed start time and a huge weekend of racing. Today probably put up the two best races of the regatta and they used the whole harbour with minimal tidal influence. Wonderful stuff to witness and enjoy. Thanks to the club and all the volunteers who made it possible. What a class the Etchells are and they are also a very friendly and welcoming crowd.”

The charming Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Kirribilli hosted the 2015 Etchells NSW State Championship. Now there is always more fun to be had with the Etchells. Next is the West Australian State Championship, followed by Victoria’s turn. After that it is off to Mooloolaba in Queensland and then wonderful and hospitable Hong Kong for the 2015 World Championship.You can begin your Etchells journey at www.etchells.org.au

John Curnow

NSW Etchells Day 2: Can congestion. Go for separation!

Friday was all about the congestion in and also amongst the fleet racing in the 2015 Etchells NSW State Championship. The arrival today of sunshine and a decent Nor’easter saw congestion almost give way to a little separation amongst them. What it also brought out was all manner of pleasure and tourism craft, and that absolutely made sure that the congestion was now very much on every part of the magnificent Sydney Harbour.

A big thank you must go to all the Transport NSW ferries, and also the Harbour Pilots guiding the huge cruise liners out to the Tasman Sea, for their generous allowance of space in this crammed patch of water. A special note of appreciation must go to the Pilot and Master of the Sun Princess, for despite her significant bulk, she slid by the fleet ever so gracefully and accommodatingly.

Now as predicted by the Principal Race Officer, the sun did burn off the morning cloud and a delightful Nor’easter took command of the Harbour, so racing did commence at 1400hrs off Point Piper and then proceeded in the direction of the Heads. Rob Ridley said at the conclusion of the day, “We were very lucky with the weather, especially as the morning looked very drab. So yes, we were blessed. Also very delighted to have all six races in the can tonight.”

“We set an axis of 025˚ and out on a range of 1.3nm in what was an average of 9knots. It was moved to 035˚ for the second work to the windward mark, which was adjacent Watsons Bay. This racecourse was pretty much kept for the whole day, albeit that we did move even further right to 040˚ for subsequent races. The breeze really only climbed to an average of 11 knots later on, but it was decent and solid.”

“Tomorrow should see great weather, with the temperature in the high 20’s, so we are hoping that the wind will be in by 1100hrs and we will get two good races in to wrap up the series. The Nor’easter should see us set up camp once more North East of Clark Island, with maybe an uphill finish for the last race of the day. Many thanks to the team of volunteers for their work in laying marks and checking off competitors as they then rounded them”, Ridley finished by saying.

The run to the start.

During the tow out to the racecourse it was evident that today there would be more traffic of all kinds to process. Under sail were various Saturday club racing keelboat fleets, old and new 18 Footers, Moths, Mirrors and Lasers, together with mono and multihulled cruisers, even a square-rigger. Under power was everything from fishing tinnies to ships, doing four knots and all the way to over 40 in the case of the jet boat rides. Quite the eclectic collection, you understand.

Perhaps it was this entire hubbub that spurred the sailors on, for only the one thing marred a terrific starting sequence, which had begun bang on time at 1400hrs... A General Recall. In turn, that meant the Black Flag came out, so as to keep things ‘nice’. When it all began, 46 and 28 ran out of room at the pin end of the line and had to go around under everyone to find a place from which to commence. It must have been a sight, for one of those club racers came along the entire length of the start line under asymmetrical spinnaker to take a close and detailed look at this most impressive of fleets.

Quickly it became a race of two tales, with those clambering for Bradleys Head off to the left and others favouring Shark Island and thence Nielsen Park headland off to the right. The early money would probably have gone to those starting from the pin and heading left. Fifteen+ and Magpie were at the top mark first, but along with Umami and Itchy, their place would not count due to the dreaded Black Flag and being above the line prior to said start. This meant Dot, Top 40 and The Hole Way took command of the lead.

As they set off downhill, Land Rat and Shindig joined The Hole Way on a more Southerly trajectory, but the real bunch were out to the North. Polarisation was the key term to use here, as not many opted for the centre of the track. The course change to 035˚ was announced on this run.

Lisa was the boat to get to the bottom first, then Top 40, with North Sydney Station and Dot following. Clearly most were favouring the right hand side of the course, with an even spread of the fleet choosing between the East and West gates.

At the windward mark again for the second time, it was Gen XY leading from North Sydney Station, Lisa and then Land Rat, with the latter bringing a gaggle out from the beach that included the likes of Dot, Iris III, Shindig, Avalon and Odyssey.

At the leeward mark for the last time it was Foolhardy from Gen XY, with Vincero notable here for sailing around bare headed. The bulk of the fleet would come out East for the final work to the finish. In the end, North Sydney Station got it from Gen XY, then Land Rat, Shindig, Iris III, The Hole Way, Foolhardy, Avalon, Lisa and Odyssey.

Iain Murray said afterwards, “To get a race win is always good. We’re enjoying the regatta, but there is some ‘rust’ here and there – we’re not doing some things as we should be. You never like to do things badly, but we are having fun out there. In that last race we banged in to some people and had to do our turns. They hurt you. A good start is critical and then being in it at the top mark to be in the race with the Etchells. Muck it up and you’re at the back! You know, I think they fight harder the further you get back… There are no easy spots out there!”

One crew making a quiet, but none the less distinct impact on the board is, Lisa. AUS 925 pops up in the recordings of the mark roundings exceptionally well. She is crewed by Martin Hill, Darren Jones, Jason Rowed and Amy Lee. Hill commented about their campaign, “Our aim in all of this was just to be able sail in such a fabulous and large fleet. You don’t get that type of starting experience in anything else. One goal was for me to more comfortable in positioning and manoeuvring the boat for starts and this has been really wonderful. I think I am hooked on Etchells now! I love it. It’s the best sailing and the Sydney fleet is the best Etchells competition in the world.”

“They are still forgiving, however, and very exciting too. We’re fortunate that Andrew Palfrey came and set the boat up for us. Our plan is to have him back and we’ll be at the next 2016 Australian Championship, which is in Melbourne. In the meantime, we’ll try and do as much racing as we can. Lisa is Tom King’s old boat that won the world championship in 2012. She’s got new sails and been tuned, so we are doing all we can, but there is still a lot to learn. We went to the next headsail too early today and found we had no real drive – yes, good learnings to be had”, said Hill.

“Definitely would have been nice to know about the suction cups still on the hull, after this morning’s dive to clean the hull, a little earlier on than when we got back to the quay, but there you go. We did think to ourselves that it did feel like the blades of the propeller were out or something… (note that an Etchells has no motor and this is a reference to the feeling like you’re dragging something along with you).”

“It’s our first big regatta and we only really got into it all with the Milson Silver Goblets last week. Everyone here is skilled and looking to do well too. We are over the moon to be in a position like this.” Lisa is currently in eighth place.

Hey, whilst we’re all here!

Yes. You all get a prize, and that is to now sail as you will, back to Point Piper. Well, after an adrenalin charged first race, a gentle stroll back to the Committee Boat seemed rather in order. It was a nice day after all, and for some crews, it was a good chance to sooth the energy levels and debrief appropriately, prior to the next start.

So then, it must be time to have another race. The Race Committee declared 040˚ was the axis to a range of about 1nm and Course #5 meant there were two laps to complete. At 1603hrs the sequence commenced, with a classic Sydney day of blue skies and wonderful mild breeze inviting everyone to partake. There were Individual Recalls for Roué, Zapper and Tango down the boat end. Lisa had rocking pace off the line at the boat end, despite what we now know was a distinct handicap for the day.

North Sydney Station went so far in to Bradleys Head as to look like they were going to step off. Tango thought it looked like a flash idea too. Many had been East early, but those crossing back to the centre after Bradleys looked to be doing OK, despite having had to contend with more of the wash from craft running in and out of the Harbour.

Going around another action packed windward mark for the first time, it was North Sydney Station leading, then Top 40, Animal House from WA, then Gen XY and Magpie coming in on Port tack, but quickly it was evident that they had no room and had to go well down the pecking order on the lay line in order to find a hole and thus, one could say this is not their regatta. Graeme Taylor did say about it all, “Well. You get ready for the next one, which will be the Victorian State Championship in March, depending on some logistics with Steve, but we do need to get some more racing in! See how we go…”

Down at the leeward gate, North Sydney Station was first, but closely followed by Fifteen+ over at the Northern gate. Top 40 went around the Southern gate and then Carabella IV over at the other one, showing that peeling off left and right was quite trendy. Gen XY was next, then Animal House, Sun Tzu and Adolescence.

Once more it was off to the top, but this work would be indelibly branded on everyone’s mind for the way, Sun Princess, so carefully departed the stage. With all the other craft moving about it was as memorable as it was challenging! Top 40 would get the honours once there, then Gen XY, Sun Tzu, North Sydney Station, Animal House, Foolhardy and Adolescence.

So if everyone came over to Shark Island to let the liner out, then they all thought it was time to see the Bradleys Head side of the track once more for the trip down to the finish, which saw Top 40 get there ahead of all others. Gen XY was next, then Sun Tzu, North Sydney Station, Carabella IV, Animal House and Foolhardy were part of it at the top, too.

When racing was done for the day, Top 40 would be in third place overall. Ian McKillop said, “A race win is pretty good. A broken turnbuckle this morning left us with a DNF, which is not great, but things happen in sailing. Happy to be in the mix (eight points astern of the leader), given it all and hopefully we’ll see breeze tomorrow.” Peter Merrington said of the failed item, “It is just general wear and tear, and it always happens at the wrong time! We’re sailing in good spirits, however, so it is still fun.”

Overall, the secret of the regatta appeared to be that some were having less of a bad day than others. The Hole Way finished the day just the two points of the leader, Gen XY. Skipper, Cameron Miles said, “It’s getting to the business end. We’ll try and do our own thing and have a good race tomorrow. It has been a tricky regatta with all the craft and challenging breezes, but then equally, this means you claw it back, like it was for us in that second race. It was shifty and challenging - even the Mirrors called Starboard on us, but you have to give way, so you comply. It is great fun and we’re laughing (most of the time). We are really looking forward to Sunday’s racing.”

Where did they all go?

Perhaps everyone had dinner appointments or tickets to a concert, for as the final race of the day firstly got underway and then continued, the crowds vanished from the Harbour like the fans during the final stages of a loosing football game.

The 1735hrs sequence lead us into a two-lap affair out 1.2nm on an axis of 040˚. Lisa changed headsail here and were the only one to do so. There was an Individual Recall for just the one craft, Sun Tzu. Iris III had a red hot go at it, with The Don part of that effort as well. Crews Control brought some vessels out to the East, but the Bradleys Head side was distinctly favoured by most.

The Hole Way was in front at the top and then it was Foolhardy, Touch Pause Engage, Ciao, Magpie, Crews Control and Iris III. Dot performed a penalty turn, which summed up a very compact rounding and it was incredibly that there had not been more infringements. Speak too soon... North Sydney Station had to perform one as well and that put them back in second last place! It just goes to show how close it is and how tough a day at the office can be.

A few opted for the gybe set and The Hole Way had a good run down centre of track. It would be Land Rat with the best run of the day, however, that would take us in to the bottom mark. Foolhardy and The Hole Way were next, then Top 40, Ciao, Gen XY and Magpie. An even split between the gates was again a distinct feature of the programme.

Trekka, Roué and Alchemist were the pioneers out on the Bradleys Head side half way back up the track as everyone was going right in to Nielsen Park headland. Land Rat was one of the ones over there and they took the fleet in to the top mark. The Hole Way and Foolhardy were next, then Top 40, Magpie, Carabella IV, Gen XY, Crews Control and Lisa.

Categorically, everyone went down the Northern side and those that were right over there almost had an elevator ride along the shore. Land Rat, The Hole Way, Ciao and Foolhardy had skipped away and they finished in that order too. Magpie came down in a gorgeous afternoon breeze, then there was Carabella IV, Gen XY, Top 40, Crews Control and Lisa.

John Warlow from Land Rat said after their win, “The Hole Way did not let us have it easily, which is why the line crossing celebrations were so distinct. It’s been a while since the last one (win) in Adelaide and the new boat is just fantastic. Maybe we’re getting greedy for them now? Such wonderful competition and they never give up!”

As we have seen, Gen XY hold the regatta lead by two points. when back on the quay, Skipper Matt Chew, still with a good sense of humour, said, “No lock-ins, that’s for sure. ‘Last day-itus’ is reasonably common for us, so we want to have a duel for the big prize. We did kiss the boat early, but she has taken a little punishment in the last race, when the deck kissed my knuckles pretty hard. We’ll see about tomorrow, eh?!”

As a final note, sincere thanks goes to Rob Weir for the use of his terrific launch, Rascal. This has enabled the media team to get all the images you see here and view the excitement that is Etchells racing.

The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Kirribilli is hosting the 2015 Etchells NSW State Championship. Sunday is the last dayand they will all be in their boats before the 1100hrs start, weather permitting.

John Curnow: Photos - Kylie Wilson

NSW Etchells: Day 1

TheRoyal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Kirribilli is the launching pad for the 2015 title clash. For day one of the campaign, Sydney Harbour decided to offer Sou’easters, which constantly varied in both direction and pressure, thereby necessitating that your eyes were always out of the boat to observe said changes. After that, a vigil for ferries and also pleasure craft was important, for the wake lines could be quite catastrophic to your boat speed, in what was essentially a gentle breeze.

As all the sailors left their craft and headed for the clubhouse, they commented on how much work it was out there. Perhaps not a physical day, but the demands on your cognitive functions were very, very real. Some souls were a little akin to the native animal caught in the beam of your car’s headlights and a tad frozen, whilst others were trying to find ways to dissipate their adrenalin levels, or even yet to work out that this was certainly required. However, the one who categorically summed it all up was Nev Wittey, who said, “That was better than Luminosity” (online brain training).

After a full spread of three races for the day, it is Gen XY that holds a two-point lead from Top 40 and then The Hole Way (Cameron Miles, David Sampson and Grant Crowle) who are also on 16 points, but in third place on count back. Gen XY is crewed by Matthew Chew, Ashley Deeks, Bill Cuneo and Brian Donovan. The Brisbane based outfit are always in the equation, so their first, fifth and eighth places today were solid by anyone’s standard, except perhaps their own. Chew explains, “Not going to lock anything in, but we’re pretty happy to not have had a bad day, even if it actually did feel like one. A lot went wrong… Only by looking at the scoreboard can you realise that we had a ‘less’ bad day than some. The boat was on the receiving end of our frustrations! Somehow we still have ended up having fun and tomorrow there will be more joy on offer too.”

Bragging Rights

To the morning then, and briefing commenced at 0930hrs. First-to-leave-the-quay bragging rights went to another Queensland crew, namely AUS 1422 Land Rat, which is John Warlow, David Bull and Will Thomson, who gave themselves a good hour plus on the Harbour prior to the first starting sequence commencing, which was just after noon. An axis of 125˚ and over a range of just under 1nm was prescribed. Vincero (Nick Kingsmill, Peter Wager and Paul Gosling)was a little too anxious to begin the fun and had to return and cross the start line again. The counterpoint was The Hole Way who completely nailed their run to the line.

Getting underway from just in front of the club, it was quickly a right hand favoured trek to the windward mark, with the breeze being very much softer in around the Cremorne Point area. North Sydney Station (Ian Murray, Richard Allanson and Ed McCarthy)and Iris III were in good places, leaving Tango (Chris Hampton, Ian Walker and Ben Morrison-Jack)to be the soul racer out left and looking like they were going to tie up at the ferry berth that actually services Cremorne Point. The intensity of the racing was evident, but so too was the obvious mass of ferries, pleasure craft, as well as low and high speed tourist vessels.

If it was trying to be 8 knots at the bottom mark, then it was likely to be a real 10 at the top, which was nearly abeam Double Bay and below Shark Island. That’s not a huge difference, until you look at it in percentage terms. In other words, you could feel it on your face. You did need to be careful, for if you hoed the ground for too long and actually went into Rushcutters Bay, you ran out of breeze quickly and got slow even faster than that.

The Hole Way would take us around the windward mark for the first time, with Carabella IV and then Iris III behind, then Adolescence, Gen XY, Lisa, Crews Control and North Sydney Station.

The Hole Way also lead around bottom mark. Carabella IV and Iris III went to the Northern gate, with Adolescence (Steve Billingham, Adrian Dolin and William Lewis)off to the Southern side. Most came in from the Northern side which was looking good and it was clear that there were some serious names dotted right through the top 15 or so.

Iris III and Carabella IV lead us around the top mark for the last time and had stepped away. The Hole Way was now third with North Sydney Station after them. Lisa, Foolhardy, Gen XY and Adolescence comprised the next group.

Just before the race was done, a zephyr blatted through from Garden Island. As a result, Carabella IV got the prize over Iris III, then The Hole Way and North Sydney Station. Michael Coxon is driving Carabella IV again this week. After the win, Coxon said, “I had that good look in the mirror that I had promised to do during last week’s Milson Silver Goblets regatta, where I thought I could do a lot better for the team of Campbell Davidson, Dara Johnston and Jane Clark, with some better starts.”

Iris III, which is crewed by Peter McNeill, David Gleadhill and Simon Reffold, was in the lead until the very last metres of that first race. Afterwards, McNeill confirmed the oscillation in directions and also the fluctuation in pressure of the breeze. “Really was a snakes and ladders day, so you needed to get on those lines as they came through. When it drops off and you’re in the gas of the fleet ahead, putting the bow down to hold speed can get very deadly, especially with all the wake. Last week we were out there on the Saturday for the final three races of the Milson Silver Goblets and the extra weekend traffic can make it something else! It was terrific to see Yandoo XX do so well with their new Doyle sails then and they had a good one today, as well. Looking forward to tomorrow’s racing!”

Race Two

The next race was announced as Course #6, which meant three laps, but the range was reduced to just 0.65 of a nautical mile and the axis was a touch more to the left, at 120˚. The sequence was begun at 1325hrs. There was a late postponement to square the line up and then it was time to party once more, with a new sequence commenced at 1333hrs.

Foolhardy, Magpie (reigning champions), North Sydney Station and Iris III were right down at the pin end of the line. North Sydney Station, Iris III and Ciao all went left then bailed and took a few sterns. Land Rat persevered and did so with pace for a while, until they went too, leaving Tuco and Tango there, with the majority very right.

It would be GenXY around the top in first place and this would be their win for the day. The Don (Don Wilson, Ray Leslie and Graeme Murray) was next, with North Sydney Station, Yandoo XX and Vincero in there too. Land Rat took care of some paint at this mark and performed her turns accordingly and cleanly, with the area super-congested as they did so.

Heading downhill, a lot went for the gybe set, especially from further down the fleet. As a result, half and half ended up on each side of the course. Four craft, artistically adorned with red, blue, green and white spinnakers had a bit of a flyer down the Southern side of the fleet and it was as spectacular as it was quick. Thanks to Foolhardy, The Hole Way, Fifteen+ and Shindig for the visual treat.

GenXY would lead The Don around, with both opting for the Northern gate. North Sydney Station was next, then Ciao, Top 40 and Yandoo XX. The bulk of the fleet was well right, and it was favoured this time. There was a course change at the top mark, with the reciprocal now 290˚.

Gen XY was in front at the bottom, but Yandoo XX was now in second, with Foolhardy, Ciao, The Hole Way, Alchemist and North Sydney Station comprising the top group. Gen XY went for Southern gate with a 60m lead. Yandoo had Foolhardy right on their quarter and then after The Hole Way there was a gap to Top 40. The Biz and Odyssey were involved in a minor incident, with Odyssey exonerated by performing the appropriate turns.

It was fresher over the whole course by now, but still small numbers overall. Gen XY still had it at the top, with Foolhardy, Yandoo XX, The Hole Way, Ciao and Alchemist going around the top in that order. As noted, Gen XY went on for the win, with Foolhardy, The Hole Way, Top 40, Alchemist and Fifteen+ completing the top order.

Race Three

The final race for the day was back at 125˚ and to a range of just 0.7nm. Course #2 meant an upwind finish and it got away at 1458hrs. Alas, it was a General Recall, which went straight to a Black Flag and that in turn got away cleanly at 1506hrs.

Getting away well were Magpie, Lisa and The Hole Way. Iris III was on top of the anchor chain of the second Committee Boat, but did escape gaol. Zapper and Roué were in close as well, but Lisa and Magpie were off. Zapper and North Sydney Station also made it out of the shemozzle at the start, but the bulk of fleet went to right where it was fuller and more complete, but not stronger.

Interestingly, more boats than ever chose the primary Committee Boat for their start, then headed left for a short while. Lisa made the break on them all, but it was Touch Pause Engage showing ‘blinding’ pace in the centre that stood out. Animal House was a part of that too, perhaps even more left, as they kept Roué company out there. The Don was another showing pace.

Alas, Yandoo XX would take us around the windward mark, with Land Rat, Fifteen+, Top 40, Gen XY and then Lisa and Touch Pause Engage following. It was a tight collection and there was a bit of noise emanating. Of note was Zapper, for they went around at least ten craft by avoiding the close proximity craved by so many.

All of the fleet went North. A few came back to the centre for a while, but it was Yandoo XX who stayed out there that lead until the bottom when Land Rat got around in front of them. Top 40 would follow with Fifteen +, then Gen XY, Carabella IV and Lisa. The start of the second work was notable for a huge knock over to Fort Denison and so the left was favoured a bit. Those that came out right and then went back early, holding centre, did do well and had the best of it. Yandoo XX did climb over Land Rat and Fifteen+ made it over Top 40. A little while later, Land Rat clawed back the top spot, albeit briefly.

Yandoo XX took Land Rat around, with Fifteen+ and Top40 in pursuit. Lisa and Ciao were sort of there as well. The big news was Top 40 storming down to lead at the bottom. Yandoo XX and Fifteen+ went to the Southern gate and the boats working to the right got knocked again at what was the last work to finish. So many took themselves right into Rushcutters Bay, right up until the breeze line evaporated.

Top 40 went on to win, with Yandoo XX, Lisa, Fifteen+ and Land Rat following. Afterwards, Peter Merrington commented, “…chipped our way through. Geoff is doing a really good job spotting the wind when we run with the breeze and we nabbed a couple of spots each time. Huge variations meant the crew was going from sitting in to fully hiked inside 30 seconds. You had to play every shift on its merits. We’re sailing well and having a good time, so we’ll see how it goes from here. It’s a tricky race course in this part of the Harbour, so it can be fortune based.”

Backwards is Forwards

Going back to prior to the championship commencing, the spirit of it all was definitely best summed up by the following two souls. The first is a terrific supporter of sailing in general and true Etchells sponsor. The other is a charismatic sailor and definitive Etchellian, who is also very much thrilled to be the new holder of the Tattersall’s Cup (Overall Winner of the Sydney Hobart). The former is Paul Schulz from Gill Marine, and the latter is none other than Roger Hickman.

Schulz said, “We’re here again at the Ethcells helping the fleet out with some event shirts and displaying some of our new products, too. Not only is there our new technical gear, which is lightweight and suits our climate, later on this year we will have a collection of onshore wear that will takes us right into the corporate apparel arena and it can be viewed at www.gillmarine.com It’s always a pleasure to be involved with the wonderful people inside this great class, and the Etchells are a joy to watch sailing, too.”

Speaking with Hickman, he commented, “Last year I was very lucky to receive the North Sails jib as the mid-fleet prize. Fantastic. After being just the one point ahead of the crew that received the jib at the recent Etchells Australian Championship, our plan for this regatta is to be nowhere near the middle this time. Even though it is a real honour and a privilege to win it, we want to be on the high side of the tally! Lady luck has been shining on us of late, so we hope that continues. It’s a huge fleet, both numerically and in regards to talent, so a top ten would make you ecstatic. Lot of fun going to be had at this great championship.”

Many a volunteer make a regatta possible. The on-water team of scorers and mark layers are critical, but so too are the souls who attend to the myriad of paperwork and logistical concerns on shore. Sydney Fleet Captain, Richard Hammond, and Secretary, Roger Gain, both stated, “We really appreciate the stupendous efforts of Sandy and Richard Lawson, Rene Chapman, Jill Hammond, Lynne Gain and Calvin Gardner in making it all happen.”

Moving forward once more, the crews are out in their boats tomorrow from 1400hrs, aiming for three more races. The PRO in charge is the Squadron’s, Rob Ridley, who said, “It was a tricky day for both us and the competitors. Most did well at some point or other during the day. It was a case of two breezes; one down near us off the club and the other was a little more to the right at the top off the Rushcutters Bay area. The outgoing tide from halfway through the first race (which was big as result of the full moon) just added to it all. The competitors certainly used the whole part of the Harbour!”

“Tomorrow is looking like a light morning, with the temperature going up into the high 20’s, so a Nor’easter that builds from 1300hrs would be marvellous. If that’s the case, we’re likely to go off from the vicinity of Point Piper.”

As it is a Saturday, the Etchells crews are not going to be the only ones out in their boats. One hopes that everyone has their eyes out of their respective craft, but if you’re not here, you can keep your eyes on thejourney that is the 2015 NSW Etchells State Championship via http://www.rsys.com.au/results/2014/yachting/adr/etchellsnsw/series.htm

John Curnow: Photos - Kylie Wilson 

East over West win in Hardy Cup final

Just a couple of metres in the fifth and final race today decided the 2015 winner of the prestigious Hardy Cup on Sydney Harbour, a cross-nation duel between two of Australia’s outstanding young match racing skippers and their crews.

Victory in the ISAF Grade 3,  Under 25 Match Racing Regatta went to the Sydney-based Cruising Yacht Club of Australia crew skippered by Jay Griffin against Perth-based Sam Gilmour’s Neptune Racing team from Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, the final score being 3-2.

Today’s semi-finals and the dramatic final were sailed off the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron at Kirribilli in light and flukey winds.

Eminent yachtsman Sir James Hardy, who founded this highly successful event to promote match racing between young sailors, watched from aboard his classic gaff-rigged cutter Nerida while many Royal Sydney Squadron members viewed today’s finals from the club grounds.

Jay Griffin, 23, won his way into the final with three straight wins against West Australian Matthew Jerwood Redline Racing team from South of Perth Yacht Club but Sam Gilmour had a tougher semi-final against New Zealander Chris Steele from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, finally winning 2-1.

Then came the final:  Griffin versus Gilmour,  New South Wales versus Western Australia, and what a duel it proved to be.

Gilmour and his crew of Chris Smith, Adam Negri and Jack Breislin won the first match race. Griffin and his CYCA crew of Henry Kernot, Jack Dawson and Alex Chittendon levelled the scores with a win in match two and went ahead 2-1 after match three.  Gilmour fought back to level the score 2-2 after match 4.  Match 5 was the decider.

“Coming down the final leg to the finish we both ‘dialed up’, then went on different gybes looking for the better pressure,” Griffin explained later. “We chose to go left and were just ahead at the pin end of the finish line as he came powering into us…it was just a couple of metres at the finish.”

The Petit final between Chris Steele and Matthew Jerwood also provided close competition with West Australian Jerwood winning 2-1 against the New Zealander who last week won the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta in Perth.

Griffin praised the boat handling skills of bowman Alex Chittendon, a late member of the crew, describing his efforts as a key factor in the Hardy Cup.

Jay Griffin is only the second CYCA Youth Academy member to win the Hardy Cup with Evan Walker winning twice, in 2008 and 2010.  Griffin also crewed with Walker when finished second in 2014.

This year Walker coached the three CYCA teams contesting the Hardy Cup and next week Griffin, who is studying for a Masters degree in architecture, heads off to New Zealand to coach the two CYCA teams competing in international youth regattas in Auckland and Wellington.

Peter Campbell