QLD State Championship

Get me my road trailer!

15 September 2014 Author: John Curnow
Hard running in a fresh breeze on Moreton Bay

 Hard running in a fresh breeze on Moreton Bay

Etchells Australia President, Elected International Governor, and Chairman of the One Design Technical Committee, Jake Gunther, has seen the importance of the first and only big shoot out before the Australian Etchells Championship. He will hitch up the road trailer and is off to Brisbane for the LJ Hooker 2014 Etchells Queensland State Championship.

"We've done our absolute damndest to get there. I'm taking long time crewman, John Collingwood and also Phil Chadwick, this time. It really is going off up there and we're keen to be a part of it all. There is a really good energy emanating out of the Brisbane Fleet and we want to support that", said Gunther.

"They're set to be a major fleet, that's for sure and for us going to Brisbane is both part of our programme for the 2015 Australian title in Adelaide and also some re-acclimatising in readiness for 2018 World Championship, which will be staged at the same time of year and on the same waters. It really is great sailing and everyone needs to get used to those conditions. Apart from that, it will be good to be back in shorts!"

Gunther added, "It will be great to hitch up the road trailer, so who else is going to join me on the highway? The Fleet is standing there with open arms, literally, as many Interstate visitors have already been billeted at sailors' homes. The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly (RQ) has an awesome facility and it will be terrific to see all the new elements, including that new building they towed in on barges. It will seat 400 for dinner, which goes a long way to demonstrating the kind of big thinking that has this fleet going from strength to strength."

There is another who has travelled a long road to be part of the impending challenge, but unlike Jake, he won't need a road trailer to get there. However, he does have two distinct similarities with Jake. He is the previous President of the Australian Etchells Association, also an elected International Governor and his name is Noel Paterson. After Waterloo Bay's major refit, Noel said, "The boat is looking very flash for an old girl. It's the 10 year birthday job."

Now there is one who definitely won't need a road trailer to be a part of the LJ Hooker 2014 Etchells Queensland State Championship, for he uses the kerosene canary to get to RQ. Gordon Weise flies in from Sydney to race on Moreton Bay. "Although I live in Sydney, I grew up in Brisbane and have been a member of RQYS for over 40 years. I think this is the best location and organisation for one design sailing in Australia."

"Whilst my introduction to sailing Etchells in the early 1980's was as crew at RQ, I only decided to get back into Etchells two years ago after spending most of my sailing time over the last 20 years offshore, crewing for Roger Hickman during his various campaigns.

"When I looked at getting back into Etchells as an owner, I couldn't sail in Sydney, for at that time there were no hardstand spots available at either the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron or Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, where I have also been a member for the last 16 years. In looking for alternatives and after considering a number of options, I chose to sail at RQ with the Brisbane Fleet for the following reasons."

"That my children and grandchildren all live in Brisbane, and I get the chance to catch up with them was an easy one. Next, my program, with all my other commitments, meant I couldn't sail my Etchells every weekend, irrespective of where it was based, so sailing every second weekend to coincide with the Squadron Championships, is ideal.

"Also, the organisation, camaraderie, willingness to share knowledge and general culture of the Brisbane Fleet is superior to that of any other that I have experienced. The depth and diversity of the fleet means that there is close racing whether you are at the front, in the middle or at the tail of the fleet. Add in that RQ has one of the best race management teams and that in the last two years I think that we have lost less than five days sailing due to adverse weather and the choice was certainly getting obvious to me", said Weise.

"RQ's facilities, with the dedicated hardstand and associated equipment means that launching and retrieving is much easier and less time consuming than it is in Sydney. RQ runs two races each Saturday, rather than the one that is on offer most weekends in Sydney, so I get a double dip as it were and whether racing is held on the inside or outside course at Manly, to my mind it is superior to Sydney Harbour, with much less traffic and fairer courses. That the hardstand spot is one third of the cost Sydney means I can purchase a lot of tickets on the plane and still be in front."

"If you asked me to detail why all Etchells sailors should hitch the road trailer up to the car and get to RQ I would say that there is great competition, and at all levels from the head to the tail of the fleet. Also, the outside course is terrific and there are good inside course alternatives if the weather is too strong. Importantly, it's held during best weather window of the spring/summer in Queensland, which is historically better than that of the Southern States."

"Finally, RQYS simply has world-class facilities, safety services and race management and the Brisbane Fleet receives strong support from the host club. A vibrant and welcoming fleet with a sensational post-racing BBQ and the same venue, course and time of the year as for the 2018 Worlds makes it essential to my mind", said Weise.

Many would say that Alistair Cowen is on a one-way road heading up, so to speak. He too will not need a road trailer, for he is part of the Brisbane Fleet, but he is clear about where they want to go, and it is to the front of the fleet. "We received the 'Boarding Party' award at the Brisbane Etchells Fleet's 2014 'You Owe Me' presentations. In our view there was an exaggerated number of 'love taps' attributed to us for rubbing is racing, after all), the Tuco program engaged the services of well-known coach, Adrian Finglass, to work on our evasive manoeuvres. Part of that education was to also improve our placement on the start line so as to ensure that we put ourselves in a spot that wasn't already occupied by John Warlow."

"Having lost the services of loyal forward hand, Danny Syrett, to family priorities, Team Tuco is in a rebuilding phase but, just like the Wallabies, we are confident that after we settle on the right combinations and improve our performance management to enhance co-ordination between the forwards and backs, maximise the big picture-small picture synergy, and play the percentages to ensure everyone in the team is singing from the same hymn sheet. We will turn the corner and the results will start to flow", said Cowen, embodying the very essence of the Esprit de Corps of the Brisbane Fleet.

Need more prompting? David Healey has bought another boat, AUS 1365 and accordingly, now has AUS 1144 up for sale, so given the Brisbane Fleet is all about creative thinking and helping out, you could always charter it, then buy it, and then ultimately hitch it up and take it home with you. Now there's a plan, and you'd only have to tow one way!

Go get the WD40 and bearing grease out and get ready for the LJ Hooker Etchells Queensland State Championships, which will be help the weekend of the 4 to 6 October 2014. See or for all the key information and to book in for that all-important first test.

Gordon Weise and crew on AUS 852, round the top mark at the head of the fleet

 Gordon Weise and crew on AUS 852, round the top mark at the head of the fleet

BBQ Flag aloft, so time to head off to the debriefing session

 BBQ Flag aloft, so time to head off to the debriefing session

Jake Gunther await and crew of, The Boat, await a start

 Jake Gunther await and crew of, The Boat, await a start