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Nitronic - not the next Steve Austin

14 April 2014 Phil Smidmore

Grant Simmer, Doug McGain, Steve Jarvin and Phil Smidmore – what a crew for a forum!

"Grant Simmer, Doug McGain, Steve Jarvin and Phil Smidmore – what a crew for a forum!"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

This past season's regattas have generally been sailed in light to moderate winds, which is not good for my business! But no matter what the weather, the Etchells always produce great, close racing and there are no easy races or easy ways into the top places. Well done to all those who participated in the various regattas.

Despite some benign winds, we had a run on masts around November and December, due to some collisions and so I'm now building a new batch of spars. Please feel free to break some more! One mast broke a week after a backstay type collision and it was interesting to note that the backstay tail that broke was out of 1/8" rather than the rule compliant 5/32" wire.

A couple of years ago, Brolga turnbuckles underwent professional testing and in every case the wire broke just inside the top eye at slightly above the manufacturer's breaking load. However, Mal Anderson has beefed up both the thickness of the toggle plates and the diameter of the eye at the end of the thread on the Brolga turnbuckles, just to build in an even bigger safety margin and to account for wear and tear, especially due to shock loadings. The material used in the threaded toggle is a very high quality Nitronic® steel, which is specially designed to minimise galling on the 316 stainless turnbuckle body that forms the 'nut' part of the unit. It is highly recommended that both the thread and ball race are lubricated every race day.

With road journeys a part of a lot of regattas, trailer maintenance should not be overlooked. Rules for lengths and weights for towing are not uniform, and just because a trailer is registered does not mean it complies when laden. The GVM of an Etchells on a trailer is a minimum of about 2,200kg and with spare parts, sails and tools, that could be quiet a bit more. The brake requirements for trailers change significantly at the 2,000kg point.

The ever-popular Mooloolaba regatta will be well attended. There will also be a good Australian contingent at the Newport Worlds, including the first three boats from the Australian Championships. Now the latter is where I am lucky enough to be heading with Peter McNeill.

Good sailing.

Animal House, with Phil on board, leads Fifteen+ and No Star during the NSW Championship

"Animal House, with Phil on board, leads Fifteen+ and No Star during the NSW Championship"

Photo by:
John Curnow


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