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Melbourne: 'And we're racing' with the Melbourne Fleet

8 December 2011 Clarissa Flockart

Noel Drennan, seen here with Melbourne in the background, will be at the Worlds

"Noel Drennan, seen here with Melbourne in the background, will be at the Worlds"

Photo by:
Alex McKinnon

With only six places up for grabs for the 2012 World Championships, it was game on for the fiercely competitive Melbourne Etchells fleet selection trials.

Raced across three weekends in October, the eight-race series proved not only to be competitive, but a great warm-up for both the 2012 National and World Championships.

The weather conditions varied between all or nothing and just about everything in between, which provided for a great test of skill. Only six of the eight races were sailed and with the one discard, it became a five-race series.

The first race was sailed in a very light and shifting Sou'easterly, with the lead changing several times as the breeze moved about. The second and third races were completed in a gradually building breeze from the South. The second day of racing started with a perfect Westerly shifting through about 20 degrees and puffing at times up to 18 knots.

Ultimately, Ian Johnson sailing Bananas in Pyjamas, won the selection series as a direct result of having consistently finished in the top three. Second place went to Dawn Raid, skippered by Mark Tonner-Joyce, who until recently has been sailing Lasers. Finishing 14th in the first race, they quickly moved up the leader board with consistent performances.

Mark Bulka's Perfect Balance finished third, having dominated in the light airs, but they found the moderate airs a bit of a challenge. Australian Association President, Jake Gunther, took out fourth place and although they took a couple of races to warm up to the challenge, they simply dominated in the moderate weather.

Fifth place went to Damian King and crew on Barry, who sailed a good series. They survived a protest by seventh place finisher, Brendon Dukes in Dukes of Hazard, after a mark rounding collision. The protest was dismissed.

Ian Crisp was sixth in his brand new, Australian-built boat, That's Life. They put in consistent performances across all weather conditions. Eighth place was taken out by Peter Downey in The Doctor, doing well in the light and moderate winds.

In addition to the teams qualifying from the selection series, Noel Drennan and Chris Hampton will be competing, gaining selection through the Blairgowrie fleet. John Bertrand and John Savage have gained selection as former World Champions and having participated in the series.

Following the completion of the series Jake Gunther said, "If the Melbourne Fleet trials are anything to go by, the World Championships are going to be a tough competition, sailed by the world's best sailors."

All smiles in the Melbourne Fleet, which is great considering the fierce competition

"All smiles in the Melbourne Fleet, which is great considering the fierce competition"

Photo by:
Alex McKinnon


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