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Glorious conditions for WA, but would they hold in?

3 April 2013 Dirk van der Struyf

Can't beat the glorious weather here in WA!

"Can't beat the glorious weather here in WA!"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

Black flags, OCS, collisions and penalties dominated day one of the Western Australian Etchells Championships held on the Swan River.

The fleet was keen to leave the dock at 0730hrs in the brisk 15-18 Easterly breeze for the scheduled 0830 start, with many taking the opportunity to try and work out the 20 to 30 degree shifts that dominate an Easterly on the Swan River, before the first warning signal for the day.

Race One saw the fleet too keen, eventually to be called back under a general recall. The restart under black flag saw a shift to the right, with Dirk van der Struyf on Chilly Bin take the early lead after leaping out of the blocks, closely followed by Doug Kerr on Screaming Plum and Skip Lissiman on Bandwagon. Van der Struyf led to the top mark and down the first run, however a shift near the top mark for the second time saw Screaming Plum round half a boat length ahead with Chilly Bin and Bandwagon overlapped for second and third and Mark Lovelady on Heart Starter sneaking into fourth.

Van der Struyf's early leap out of the start proved a little too good with the team on Chilly Bin being scored BFD, Race One results therefore saw Screaming Plum take the gun from Bandwagon then Mark Lovelady on Heart Starter.

Race Two soon followed in a solid 15 knot Easterly that continued to have significant swings of up to 20 degrees. Race Two saw past National Champion, Peter Chappell on 1382, nail the start to command an early lead to control the fleet and lead from start to finish, Doug Kerr showed great consistency to notch a second with Alistair McMichael on Daylight Robbery sneaking into third.

Race Three and more of the 15 knot Easterly had the fleet away under Black Flag. Peter Ahern on No Jacket Required showed he is not a shy starter and picked up his second BFD for the morning. Peter Chappell showed why he is such a great regatta sailor and picked up another first with Doug Kerr consistent into second and Grantham Kitto sliding into third.

The fleet went in at midday to accommodate the busy club racing conducted on the Swan each Saturday, then hit the water again at 1630 for the final two races of day one.

Race Four saw a huge pack of boats locked together and going nowhere at the heavily favoured boat end. Plenty of collisions and a few penalty turns had the mess soon sorted out. Current National Champion, Michael Manford on The Croc, kept clear of the mess to take an early lead. Dirk van der Struyf on Chilly Bin dug himself out of the starting pile and headed left to pick up a huge left shift and looked to round ahead of Manford at the top mark. Chilly Bin tacked on a tight lee bow and attempted to shoot the mark, only to touch the mark and perform a painful 360 and drop back into the pack. Manford showed why he is one of the best and went on to a comfortable victory followed by Mark Lovelady and Alistair McMichael, Grantham Kitto who was second across the line was scored OCS, however he has lodged a protest with the Race Committee, so results may change.

The final race of the day, Race Five kicked off at 5.30pm in the setting sun with a steady 10 knot Easterly that continued to shift, providing plenty of passing lanes for the fleet.

Peter Chappell on 1382 was over early, however managed to dip to still salvage a good start at the boat end of the line and followed The Croc around the course, closely followed by The Rat. That was how the race finished with The Croc scoring two race victories in the afternoon session to cap off an eventful day.

So after five races, Doug Kerr on Screaming Plum leads on net nine points, Peter Chappell is second on 11 and Mark Lovelady rounds out the top three on 14.

Two more races scheduled tomorrow where anything can happen and if day one is any indication - it probably will.

The final day of the Western Australian Etchells Championship had the competitors eager to leave the dock at 0730hrs for the scheduled 0830 warning signal. The previous day had been a long day with five tough races to sail. Most were looking for an easier day on the body, and with the breeze at a light 5-7 knots from the East, this seemed to be likely.

Race Six had the fleet underway with the pack again aggressively pushing the line hard. There were some nervous starters on the line, as many already had a BFD or OCS to their name. The first beat had many snakes and ladders, however Alistair McMichael on Daylight robbery picked the tricky conditions best to round just ahead of Martin Webster on Highlander and Dirk van der Struyf on Chilly Bin.

Both McMichael and Webster chose to bear away set, however van der Struyf and the ever-opportunistic Peter Chappell on 1382 chose the gybe set and it was those two who then led at the bottom gate. 1382 chose the left and Chilly Bin taking the right.

This was to be the telling moment where Peter Chappell and those that chose the left gate tacked early and picked up a right hander off the beach giving Chappell a handy race victory, his third for the regatta. Alastair McMichael sailed well to snatch the second and Doug Kerr had a blinding last run to pick up many places into third.

So leading into the final race of the regatta, Peter Chappell and Doug Kerr were tied on points. Chappell, with his incredible three bullets, would win on a countback if the final race didn't get underway in the fading breeze.

By the cut off time of 1200hrs, and having started and abandoned a race already, the Race Committee called it a day and it was Peter Chappell, Mike Hughes and Dave Castles on 1382 who took out the series. Doug Kerr on Screaming Plum took second after the countback and Alistair McMichael took out third place.

A delighted Mike Hughes sailing middle for the winning boat has had a terrific last three weekends, sailing with Dave Clark in the NSW and Victorian States and capping it all off with a victory in his home State. Where to next, Hughsey?

Winners, Mike Hughes, Peter Chappell, & David Castles

"Winners, Mike Hughes, Peter Chappell, & David Castles"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,


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