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40 years in Australia

30 August 2013 David Ritchard

On-water celebrations for the Etchells 40th

"On-water celebrations for the Etchells 40th"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

Hard to believe, but our boat has been in Australia for forty years. To celebrate, the International Etchells Class of Australia conducted a regatta and celebration dinner on August 4, 2013 at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

The first meeting of our Australian founding fathers was indeed held at 'Club Alfred's' and a group put up the money to bring the first boat and its mould to our country. That boat, KA1, is now a very sorry sight. It rests on an anchor in Morning Bay, Pittwater with wheel steering, a wing mast and large deposits of guano. Fortunately the remainder of the great number of the boats made by our builders are in much better condition today.

However, back to the celebration. After a quick lunch, five of our World Champions took to the water in a three-match regatta. Members of the Pittwater Fleet generously provided boats for the day. It looked at one point that the K flag (no spinnakers) would be raised, but whilst moving around a bit, as Westerlies are prone to do on Pittwater, the wind maintained adequate and not excessive pressure, slowly moderating from about 22 to 12 knots as the day wore on.

The results of the racing are set out below, recording Peter McNeill as the winner. A count back brought Richard Coxon/Richard Lawson (representing Pod O'Donnell who is no longer with us) in front of Col Beashel. Rounding out the results, Cameron Miles edged out John Savage. The racing was viewed by about fifty people in various vessels, which were also provided by members of Alfred's.

Back in the Clubhouse, the festivities got under way at about 1800hrs, led by our President and MC, Jake Gunther. We were also graced by the presence of our first World Champion, Frank Tolhurst. Accompanying Frank was his crew of Norm Hyatt and John Stanley. Although not able to sail, Tom King and Ivan Wheen were present for the festivities, too.

Thanks to Bob Oatley Wines, all the competitors received a complimentary bottle of wine. During the presentations, reference was made to more of the assembled guests, including Joy Annand, the wife of Jim Annand, who along with Harry Sutton, put the Etchells Class on its feet. Our present and formers builders, Phil Smidmore and Tony Doyle, were also very much acknowledged for their tremendous efforts.

Pod O'Donnell was revered by Richard Lawson, who along with Richard Coxon, sailed with him to their 1980 World Championship win. Pod enjoyed many great victories in his life, not the least of which was a Gold Medal in the 5.5m Class at the 1964 Olympic Games.

A truly great highlight of the evening was the investiture of Denis Heywood as a Life Member of the International Etchells Class. Denis has been the Class Measurer for over 25 years and if anyone deserves life membership, then it is definitely Denis. It is a mark of the man's humility that emotion overcame his ability to reply.

Good food, good wine and great company created a sensational night, which was more than a fitting tribute and celebration of our wonderful Class, its longevity and importantly, its future!

David Ritchard

Regatta Results


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