Back to news

It really is in the numbers

25 June 2015 Phil Smidmore

Winning form from Yandoo XX. No such thing as an overnight success, just lots of work

"Winning form from Yandoo XX. No such thing as an overnight success, just lots of work"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

It has been an interesting several months working with the International Measurer, Bill Abbott. Firstly, we had to establish what modifications have been illegally made to some boats, and then secondly to generate some new rules and measurements to stop these modifications. The figures we collected showed only small differences, and even the boats that many considered suspect had undergone only some very small modifications – far smaller than I was expecting.

Sure, some were in violation of the first rule of Etchells, i.e. no alteration to moulded surfaces, but in all reality there were only a couple that fell outside of 'reasonable' fairing. Any new rules and tolerances will be made such that any boat that has not been deliberately altered from its moulded shape will comply. I know some people are very anxious to have new rules introduced, but there has been a lot of data collected and there is a certain process required to turn the figures into new rules. Bill is extremely fastidious and the use of digital measuring devices allows very accurate measurements to be made. Rest assured, we are continuing to work on this issue.

It has been great to see Jean-Claude Strong and her 'Yandoo XX' team, 50% of which are female, win both the Sydney Silver Goblets and Mooloolaba regattas. The four put in a lot of time on the water and are very dedicated. JC, by her own admission, loves every minute of being on the water, so for the numerous hours she puts in, she does not see anything but enjoyment.

The boat was given a great re-vamp a couple of years ago when we put a new moulded floor and console in and it was fully repainted. For all the talk over the years regarding 'that' boat, it passed Bill Abbott's fine toothcomb digital measuring test with flying colours as 'very average'.

As a cheaper alternative to a full new floor and console job, we have supplied several floors made from the old mould, but with the new aluminium frame so they can be fastened, as we do for our new mould floors, including the fastening of the four corners to the boat. This really gives the boat a great lift.

The two new fittings introduced at the start of the season, the forestay swivel joiner and the mast lever, have both sold very well, but it has been the sale of so many masts that has taken me by pleasant surprise. Nearly my entire batch from last November has sold in just six months. While a couple of bulk export orders has helped, I was not expecting to sell so many, so quickly and I have been caught short for now, but I currently have new tube being made into masts as quickly as possible.

While it is more economical for me to make 20 or 25 at a time, to bring forward when I will have more masts available, I will only turn about one half of the 23 tubes we have just received into Etchells masts as soon as possible. It is just so hard to predict demand, but I am always so proud when I sell a lot quickly and especially proud when so many get exported and sold at a higher price overseas than the overseas 'home' masts.

Bill Abbott commented when he was here that he was surprised to see so many of my masts on boats overseas.

With winter here now, I see some smart owners are keeping their boats in Brisbane and looking forward to the racing proposed for Moreton Bay in the coming months.

The Hong Kong fleet has been working hard towards the staging of the 2015 Worlds. Hong Kong has always been a good market for Australian boats and I am regularly sending various bits and pieces up to HK. The Melbourne fleet are pushing their Nationals very hard and hoping for 60 boats on the start line. Along with that, there will of course be the usual round of highly competitive State championships.

Good Sailing,
Phil Smidmore

Phil Smidmore’s masts have an enviable reputation and are used by the best crews

"Phil Smidmore’s masts have an enviable reputation and are used by the best crews"

Photo by:
John Curnow


Have you received the newsletter via email?

The eNews is sent to all Association members. If you've missed out on it, send your current email address to Kylie Wilson, the webmaster.

Publication Schedule - Submit a Story

Would you like to submit a story, or know when to expect your next eNewsletter?

Submission Due Dates:
1 July 2018
1 October 2018
1 December 2018
1 February 2019

Stories & questions to John Curnow.