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Final Showdown at the Etchells ADCO Etchells Australasian Winter Championship

24 July 2012 Rob Kothe & Sail-World

Not exactly brochure weather here with Tom King and Mark Thornburrow.

"Not exactly brochure weather here with Tom King and Mark Thornburrow."

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The final day of the 2012 ADCO Etchells Australasian Winter Championship began in overcast conditions. Rain fell intermittently as the fleet made their way offshore, hoping to complete the last two races of this year's series.

Graeme 'GT' Taylor and his Magpie crew sat in third place on the leader board overnight. GT was hoping to do what no skipper had done in the event's 15 year history - win the championship twice.

But to achieve that, Taylor would have to defeat current leader Matthew Chew (Gen X Y) and Hong Kong sailor Mark Thornburrow (Racer X).
Race 5 of the series got underway in 10 -12 knots of breeze with light rain falling. The sea state, although a little lumpy, had eased back from yesterday's tough conditions.

It was a clean start and Mark Thornburrow, four up from the pin, got the best of it, while series leader Matthew Chew and fellow podium contender Peter McNeill (Iris 11) were buried. Etchells World Champion Tom King (Iron Lotus) started eighth up from the pin but fell back into the second row.

At the top mark for the first time and in strong conditions, Dirk Van Der Struyf (Animal House) rounded ahead of David Rose (This Will Make Her Scream), followed by Michael Stovin-Bradford (Touch Pause Engage), Roger Hickman (Sun Tzu), Mark Sanders (Rebound), Glenn Norton (Walk on Water) and Mark Johnson (Roulette). Colin Beashel (North Star) was ninth with Taylor back in tenth. Thornburrow and Chew were both well back in the scattered fleet and experiencing multiple wind shifts.

At the top mark for the second time, Van Der Struyf continued to hold the lead from Johnson, who gained fives places to be second. Hickman had also advanced as had Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance), Christopher Hampton (Tango 1990) and Colin Beashel (North Star). Rose fell back. Then followed an improving King. Taylor held ninth just ahead of Jeanne-Claude Strong (Yandoo XX).

Dirk Van Der Struyf (Animal House) took Race 5 from Mark Johnson (Roulette) and Roger Hickman (Sun Tzu). Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance) was next, then Tom King (Iron Lotus), Graeme Taylor (Magpie), Colin Beashel (North Star), Christopher Hampton (North Star), Mark Thornburrow (Racer X) and David Rose (This Will Make Her Scream). Matthew Chew finished back in 16th place.

By the end of Race 5 the breeze had dropped to around 12 knots and was continuing to drop further. The Race Committee was unable to set a course for race 6 of the series due to the shifting, unstable breeze and had no choice but to call a halt to the day's racing. With a drop coming into play after five races of the series had been sailed, skippers were able to discard their worst result. For overnight leader Chew this meant he could drop his Race 5 result (16).

First season skipper Matthew Chew and Gen X Y crew of Ashley Deeks, Brian Donovan and Paul Wyatt were therefore the 2012 ADCO Etchells Australasian Winter Champions. Chew, who was part of Jason Muir's 2009 Etchells World Championship crew was a happy skipper. Shouting across the water as the boat sailed up the Mooloolaba River and back to the boat park for the crane out, Chew said, 'Very pleased with these results! We are a new crew, but in the conditions we sailed a very consistent series.'

Mark Thornburrow (Racer X) finished second behind Chew. 'Its cold and wet, but it was great racing. Very pleased the way our new combination is coming together, but Matthew and his crew deserve the win.'

Third placed Graeme Taylor (Magpie) said, 'We gave it our best shot, but we just were not consistent. That last race was certainly very difficult, as it got very shifty. Half way up the first beat we were in good shape, we went back to shut the left out and the right came good. We were 12th at top mark and fourth at the bottom, but then we were on the wrong side of the next big shift. However, there is always next year.'

In its 16 years the Etchells Australasian Winter Championship has now produced 16 different winners. Will tradition continue in 2013? Mooloolaba Etchells Fleet Captain Trevor Martin thinks so. While waiting his turn in the crane queue that afternoon, Trevor commented, 'It seems the combination of very strong fleets and a wide variation in conditions means this is a tough nut to crack. Congratulations to Matthew Chew and his Gen X Y crew, our 16th winners. And here's to a sunny Sunshine Coast next year!'

In first place were Matthew Chew, Ashley Deeks, Brian Donavan and Paul Wyatt from the Brisbane Fleet. They were ahead of Mark Thornburrow, Simon Cooke, Sam Sakai and Bucky Smith from Hong Kong, with Graeme Taylor, Steve Jarvin and Ben Morrison-Jack in third representing Mornington.

Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team

Wet, but victorious and capping off a good run for Matthew Chew, et al.

"Wet, but victorious and capping off a good run for Matthew Chew, et al."

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