News

NSW State Championship

Out of the boat!

6 February 2015 Author: John Curnow
Carabella IV gets up to win (just) from Iris III in race One

 Carabella IV gets up to win (just) from Iris III in race One
© Kylie Wilson - positiveimage.com.au

The Royal 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 the journey that is the 2015 NSW Etchells State Championship via etchells.org.au/states-nsw/.

Hello Sydney – like it wasn’t obvious

 Hello Sydney – like it wasn’t obvious
© Kylie Wilson - positiveimage.com.au

Tall buildings, green parks and Etchells

 Tall buildings, green parks and Etchells
© Kylie Wilson - positiveimage.com.au

PRO, Rob Ridley, on the flying bridge of the Committee Boat

 PRO, Rob Ridley, on the flying bridge of the Committee Boat
© Kylie Wilson - positiveimage.com.au

Line abeam - close racing and flukey wind

 Line abeam - close racing and flukey wind
© Kylie Wilson - positiveimage.com.au

Congestion at the top mark during Race One

 Congestion at the top mark during Race One
© Kylie Wilson - positiveimage.com.au

Close aboard with Gen XY -  regatta leader and Race Two

 Close aboard with Gen XY - regatta leader and Race Two
© Kylie Wilson - positiveimage.com.au



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