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Swan River: 2011 Western Australia Etchells Championship

5 April 2011 Dirk van der Struyf

The fleet comes downhill.

"The fleet comes downhill."

Photo by:
Bernie Kaaks

The 2011 WA Etchells Championships were contested over the long weekend from March 5 to 7, on the stunning waters of Owen Anchorage, just off Fremantle.

The fleet of 16 boats were blessed with 10-15 knot Southerlies for the 3 races on Saturday, with all boats relishing the conditions. Local Ullman Sails sailmaker, Brad Sheridan, sailing US Forces, was in blistering form early. There were wins in the first two heats, so his recent 8th place in the Geelong Nationals is a testament to his speed and tactical expertise. Heat Three was won convincingly by another sailmaker, Mark Lovelady, sailing Heart Starter (AUS 827) in its first major hit out. Mark had spent many months putting Heart Starter back together, after it had sat untouched on the hard stand for almost 10 years.

Sunday morning saw the fleet greeted with similar conditions of around 10-18 knots from the South to Sou'east and flat water to make for classic Etchells conditions. Heat Four started with the left looking good early, however the right shift eventually clocked in and those who started toward the boat looked like the ones to beat half way up the first work. Peter Chappell, fresh from his WA Sharpie title win the weekend before, picked the shifts the best to sail AUS 1382 over the line first, closely followed by Mark Lovelady, who beat Grantham Kitto sailing the Rat, into third place.

Heat Five - Skip Lissiman sailing Bandwagon, with pro sailor Ben Durham aboard, finally shook off his horror start to the series by taking the win. Class newcomer, Simon Cunningham, sailing Slippery When Wet was close behind in second place, followed by Mark Lovelady, who was suddenly looking like the title favourite. All he needed to do was hold it together for the remaining two heats.

Heat Six on the Saturday afternoon was started in a building seabreeze, which had Dirk van der Struyf on Chilly Bin finally work out his rig problem to lead to the top mark, after picking the shifts nicely up the right side. Chilly Bin was eventually hunted down by the hungry pack, however, who all bought with them new pressure on the run. Doug Kerr, who had quietly been getting some good results early in the series, sailed Screaming Plum perfectly into first place. Class stalwart, Bill Steele, on Dragon Lady came in behind Screaming Plum, with Brad Sheridan taking third. Mark Lovelady was in eighth place, meaning the final day and Heat Seven was going to the wire.

Monday morning and the final heat was underway in less than 4 knots from the East. Brad Sheridan, Mark Lovelady and Peter Chappell were all within a point of each other, with the dark horse, Doug Kerr, lurking a couple of points behind the group. The fleet quickly spread out in the lottery of the very light Easterly and there were big losses and gains across the track. It was Skip Lissiman on Bandwagon, closely followed by Doug Kerr on Screaming Plum, who correctly negotiated their way between the dying Easterly and the new, building sea breeze, to take first and second. Gus McBriar on Zipi took out the final place.

Doug Kerr patiently waited at the finish to see how many boats finished in front of Sheridan, Lovelady and Chappell, who were all having a bad day out. The right amount was soon pretty obvious, as the hoots of jubilation coming from Kerr's crew let all know the final result.

So Doug Kerr, with his crew of Luke Patterson and pro-sailor Kinley Fowler, took the WA Etchells Championships for 2011 by a solitary point to Peter Chappell on AUS 1382 with Brad Sheridan on US Forces, another single point behind.

WA States Results

Pair of Etchells duelling it out.

"Pair of Etchells duelling it out."

Photo by:
Bernie Kaaks


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