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Adelaide: Etchells Fleet Update

22 March 2012 Wayne Knill

1987 - David Morphett (left) and Laurie Steele heading out to race on, Mel

"1987 - David Morphett (left) and Laurie Steele heading out to race on, Mel"

This season, the 2011/12 South Australian Etchells State Championship was scheduled either side of the Christmas break, and was won for the second year in succession by Shane Deussen, Steve Dunn and Brett James sailing, Coronation Rag (AUS936). The State Titles ended up as a four-race series with no discard, as a couple of race days were lost due to the now traditional, Southerly fronts blasting the Adelaide coast right on cue on the Saturday mornings of our racing.

The result may have been very different, however. After the first three heats, Coronation Rag was in a comfortable position on three wins (three points), leading Paul Henshall's, Mystery Taxi (AUS 1311), with three, second places (for six points). Maybe the boys relaxed a bit too much, because halfway through the last race, Mystery Taxi, was charging off into the distance with a commanding lead, whilst Coronation Rag, was buried back in the fleet and in danger of losing the title, despite winning three of the four races! It was only a great last lap, in which they picked the perfect slot going downwind, that got 'The Rag' back up through the fleet to a lucky third place and thence on to win the title by just the one point.

Some sad news rocked the Adelaide Fleet recently, when we heard that David Morphett had passed away. Morph was a foundation member of our fleet, moving from Dragons to Etchells back in 1983. Throughout the '80's, Morph truly was the heavyweight of the fleet in every sense of the word. A total of six State Championships, steering the distinctive beige coloured hull of, Mel (KA152), Morph set the pace in the days of Wave and UF mainsails.

Morph took Mel to Pittwater for the '88 Worlds, with a then young Wayne Knill sitting up for'ard and although it was a mostly forgettable series for us, Morph showed flashes of his skill, leading the entire World's fleet around the top mark on one occasion. After the maximum crew weight limit rule was introduced, Morph sold his Etchells and moved to offshore racing, winning just about every trophy possible at the RSAYS.

He will be greatly missed.

Wayne Knill.


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