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Boats doing well, masts even better, and you cannot keep a good man down

12 February 2018 Phil Smidmore

The Cure, QLD States winners.

"The Cure, QLD States winners."

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

The 2017-18 season got off to a good start for our new mould Pacesetter boats with Ray Smith’s, The Cure, steered by Dave Clark having a good win in the season’s opening regatta, the Queensland State Championships.

In early December, Corinthians Mark Roberts and crew in, Fumanchu, won the SA States. Both these boats were launched in Nov 2016. Well done to Graeme Taylor and crew for their win in the Australian Championships in Fremantle - Magpie’s third National crown in a row. He was closely followed by a couple of new mould Pacesetter boats with Dave Turton runner up. This is a great reward for David who made the long road trip from Brisbane, and Michael Manford winning two races and finishing third overall, as well as being the top Corinthian crew. All four of these new mould Pacesetter boats carried my masts (all with fixed spreaders) and set North Sails.

I ran a batch of masts late last year with that batch ending with mast #600. Some of them are soon to be shipped to the USA where the likes of Steve Benjamin, Dirk Kneulman, and Jay Cross have recorded great results with the masts I sent to them about a year ago.

We had a visit from Bill Abbott in November, essentially to teach our new measurers the art of Etchells measurement. Bill ran his micrometer and scales over some masts and found mine were the lightest with a tip weight of just over minimum and those with swinging spreaders were found to be swinging right out to the max forward permitted.

While we did not build any new boats in 2017, we have now commenced a new boat for Iain Murray, and have fielded a number of enquiries from potential overseas buyers looking for a turnkey package for Brisbane. Sales of spares have been steady throughout the year, with plenty of sheets and halyards going out along with pumps, levers and standing rigging. Spar sales have been OK, but a bit slow - I think I now make booms too strong as they don’t break as often as they used to!

We have instigated a couple of changes to our building of new boats. We have received the OK from the ODTC to build using the ISO grade of polyester resin and we will be finishing keels using Durapox, an epoxy paint. We are currently seeking permission to use a slightly different woven roving cloth which will enable us to finish the inside of the boat better. The fore and aft bulkheads will have a smooth gloss surface and there are changes to the hatch covers.

There is plenty of season still left with the NSW, VIC and WA States to be held in February and March, and then it will be time for the annual Mooloolaba mid-winter series.

Remember to regularly have a look around the boat for wear and tear, and replace worn items before they break and ruin your sailing day. Give your turnbuckles and screw winder step a grease up, and regularly wash and spray traveller cars and ball bearing blocks with a dry lube. Make sure the bilges are clean, and the pumps are working. Please check your Brolga turnbuckles, there are still a number of the older version in use. The most recent version, which has been around for about four years now, has more meat around the pressed in toggle pin and the toggle plates are a heavier gauge. If you do not have this version, please retrofit a new toggle assembly as there have been some failures of the older version ones.

Changing hats now and putting on my Etchells Governor hat, I can report that in addition to the annual meeting, the Governors have had several phone hook ups and various email exchanges discussing a number of items including measurement protocols, refining a couple of one-design rules, crew weigh in protocols, length of National and World Championship regattas, qualification paths into a Worlds and class promotion. This last item I find very tricky, and there are so many thoughts on how best to do it. My old fall back position is that if every current owner introduced just one new owner, the class numbers would double.

Good Sailing,

Phil Smidmore.


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