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President's Report

24 July 2012 Jake Gunther

Australian President, Jake Gunther

"Australian President, Jake Gunther"

A windy Mooloolaba came and went by, with some great sailing and some serious feasting on the incredible seafood next door to the yacht club. It really is a unique regatta and is always the highlight of the winter calendar. A big and special thanks to Tracey, Trevor, the Wilsons, as well as all those involved, for as usual, an absolutely superb job was done. Matt Chew and his team were the worthy victors and once again we have a different winner, how does that happen!!!

Some very interesting data came from the event, but for me, the most interesting was the fact that 50% of the entries were new to the event. Staggering really and also very good news. Our fleet is changing, but more importantly it is growing. There were lots of new faces and lots of thirty-somethings sailing in a fleet that they really respect. All the newcomers seem to have the same feeling about the fleet and ultimately it was for the same reasons that they were there. Great boat; Great competition; Great regattas!

The local fleets are going gangbusters at the moment, too. In Melbourne, there seems to be a brave bunch that keep racing regularly and are holding participation numbers at a regular 14 to 15 boats, which is amazing considering the Melbourne winter puts most fleets into hibernation for months. This brings me to an important point and that is finding the right format for racing programs. The summer is fairly straight forward, as there are those that want to sail every single weekend (I'm one of them) and then there are those that will only come out to play when there is a big trophy at stake. Winter on the other hand is a whole different kettle of fish. We have all tried mini-regattas, fortnightly events, charity events, women only events and even egg and spoon racing. The current format in Melbourne of fortnightly racing, generally short course and an emphasis on fleet building with some hot food thrown in, seems to be the most workable format. Those in the Northern latitudes can swap the hot coffee for cold beers. It is the formatting of these "off season" events that makes it all work. You can't please everyone, but you can make it work for most.

What is also really great to see is so many crews putting in the hard yards of winter maintenance and training, in preparation for next summer. It is a good time to sort out any problems on the boat and trial them in the winter racing. I know from my personal experiences, after sailing most of the majors this year in an offshore environment, that you just can't be prepared enough once the summer begins.

For those of you that are considering the Nationals in Perth, stop considering and start organising! I can promise you it will be a fabulous event on one of the world's great racetracks. Good breeze, hot weather and again plenty of great seafood (and yes, I know it is sounding like an obsession!) will ensure you hold a regatta to remember. After sailing there, you soon learn why the place produces so much terrific sailing talent. The trip West is an absolute must if you haven't been before and if you have, I'm sure you will be there anyway.

Also a note of encouragement to all of those in the UK for the Olympics. The Etchells class has so many Olympians in its ranks that I feel we are really part of their development and their sailing life. Good luck, Go Hard and bring back the Gold!! I know the whole fleet has you all in their hearts and minds and I bet there will be plenty of sleepless nights when it all begins.

Finally, my sincere thanks go out to all of my very dear friends in this class and especially the Australian executive team for their endless and tireless support, through what has been a very interesting year for most of us! Without this team of incredible people, the class simply would not exist, so right now I'm raising my glass of Shiraz to all of you!!!

See you on the water.

Jake Gunther


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