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Brisbane Winter Series

26 April 2016 John Curnow

What better use for a broken boat?

"What better use for a broken boat?"

Photo by:
Noel Paterson

Well it is absolutely that time of year when many think about some time up North. The good news is that the Brisbane Etchells Fleet is ready for everyone, with a most welcoming and gracious hospitality that you have to first enjoy to become a true believer.

It is quite possibly this image of Waterloo Bar that kind of personifies the esprit de corps of the Brisbane Etchells Fleet and their home at the equally delightful Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. In the face of adversity, when his boat was dropped on the crane and broke its back, their Fleet Captain, Noel Paterson, did not concern himself with the minutiae. No. He hatched a plan to take the recently renovated ‘Waterloo Bay’ (so named for the stretch of water directly out the front) and turn her into ‘Waterloo Bar’ immediately behind the Etchells Hardstand at RQ.

Paterson also immediately purchased another Etchells, so as not to miss out on his favourite activity. Racing. “Yes, you could say it was a bad day. Not exactly what you need at any point, especially after all the work that went into her not that long ago. Still, we have re-purposed her beautifully, so please come up, go racing with us and then see how well Waterloo Bar works on land. Nothing is better than a good sail and then good times with friends once you return to shore.”

Now back ashore there is one more thing you should look out for when you partake of any or all three of the Winter Championship series. It is the now terribly famous David and Sue Healey BBQ Flag flying from the Etchells Hardstand mast. It means a lot of things, not the least of which is a tremendous feed for sailors and their families, but also a special conviviality that together with a warm night will stay in your mind for ages. Also, as a sign of the generosity of the Fleet, it is completely complimentary. Nicks. They will be held on the Saturday nights of April 30, July 16 and August 27.

So we’ll use that as a marvellous segue into the 2016 Brisbane Fleet Championship, which incorporates the Brisbane Winter Championship. Regatta One is April 30 to May 2, 2016. Regatta Two is over the weekend of July 16 and 17 and the final round is on August 27 and 28. You can enter the entire series for $650, the first for $350 and either of the final two for $200 each. That is cracking value and you can store the boat there for a nominal fee whilst you go off and earn more fun tickets.

The Land Rat

So speaking of those all important dollar and time allowances, the ultra-well travelled team from local boat, Land Rat, have had to have an enforced break. It should not stop them for long, but having been to Hong Kong, Brighton twice and Lake Macquarie all in the last seven months.

Their Skipper, John Warlow explains, “Unfortunately for the first time in five years I wont be doing the Brisbane Fleet Championship. It is my wife Laura’s 50th birthday, and for some strange reason it always falls on the same weekend. Usually an expensive gift gets around the issue, however in this instance, and as she has happily pointed out, I have been doing a bit of Etchells sailing over the last year, so it is time to spend some quality time together. We shall be off on a whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s South Island during this period. I shall be watching the competition with bated breath however. Team Land Rat will be out next for the Australasian Championship in Mooloolaba, to see if we can improve on last year’s fourth place by a hair.”

It is OK though, because AUS 1422, Land Rat, will still be out on the water. The crew from, Fair Dinkum, will use her as they seek to continue their great drive towards the top. They were one of several Brisbane Fleet crews inside the top ten at the 2016 Etchells Australian Championship held at Royal Brighton Yacht Club. Just one point ahead of them at the end were their great mates on Matt Chew’s, Gen XY.


Fair Dinkum, the Etchells with the sail number AUS 1347, consists of Grant Hudson, Ben Vercoe, Klaus Lorenz and Matt Parrott. Hudson said of their name and campaign, “We just wanted something genuine and definitely Australian. Whilst we have a lot of friends here, we’re not taking the racing as a social jaunt, but rather have a good hot crack at it.”

“I grew up with Matt Chew and not long ago he called me up to crew for him. He’s passionate and wants to increase the fleet here and offered to help us out as we firstly got our crew and then boat sorted. He has really assisted us, so to have his long-term crew, Ash Deeks and Brian Donovan, who been just great.”

“A month before the nationals, new(ish) crewmember Alex Gough came out to sail with us to sort out what we all did and make the boat go. It is funny because it was a good result at the Queensland State Championship late last year that cemented it all. So much so that we went looking for a new boat and the nationals in Melbourne was only the second time we had have ever sailed her. So we spent two days training and got right into the new boat. The speed came naturally, although Fair Dinkum will be a tad slow for whilst she gets repaired following on from a collision here at RQ.”

“At the end of the day the banter around the Class is great and one of the reasons you get into it. No one is afraid to help out, indeed it is more like greeting you with open arms. It was about two weeks ago that we had the accident and Warlio (John Warlow) has given us Land Rat for the Brisbane Fleet Championship. That’s true camaraderie”, said Hudson.

“Finding a good bunch to sail with makes us strong. Our first regatta was last year’s Australasian Championship. It was also the first time Ben, Klaus and Matt had even sailed Etchells. Yet we loved it. The close racing, and sailing against great names is wonderful. If we can give them a hard time, well we’re happy. We were in second place on both the first and second days of the last Queensland State Championship. Right up there with David Clark and Peter Conde. That makes us excited to keep going with it all.”


“The 2018 Etchells World Championship here at Brisbane is a focus for us. It was very good to be in front of Gen XY at the nationals, right up until the last race. The carry on between the two four-up crews is terrific. We could have done better at the recent nationals, but a couple of blunders set us back. Still, we took so much from it and it was awesome to have people like John Bertrand come and pat us on the back after racing and comment on our efforts. That is definitely another of the reasons you sail.”

“Patto (Noel Paterson) is an absolute force and doing so much for the fleet. It really is something awesome to be part of. We have not sailed since the nationals, as it turns out. The accident occurred on the way to the start, so we eagerly await the 1.5m being sewn back on to the bow and then we can get on with some serious two-boating with Gen XY once more. Our sponsor, Austruct Pty. Ltd, who renovate pubs, clubs and hotels, will also be happy to see us flying the flag again”, said Hudson in closing.

No doubt it will be hot racing on an awesome track. Perhaps that is why it is more than likely that one, Mark ‘Squark’ Bradford, could be back out. The North Sails Brisbane supremo is fresh from a win in the Brisbane to Gladstone and definitely looking to once more be a part of the best One Design Class in the country. His apprentice, Alex Gough won’t be available, however. Matt Chew has taken first rights there. Perhaps Bradford will have to go tap Vaughan Prentice on the shoulder.

There are plenty of sailors looking to the Northern Migration, even if this particular one has to be done, in part anyway, on the road and not sea. As part of the reigning Etchells Australian Championship crew of Magpie, Richie Allanson would be keen, is around for some of the regattas and delighted to be on board if asked. He’s not too hard to find if you’re interested in that offer, either.

So yes. Bring it on indeed! You’ll need the Notice of Race for the Brisbane Winter Championship and you can find it, along with all things an Etchellian could ever need at Definitely time to do yourself a favour and go sailing at Brisbane.

Fleet Regatta Website

Unless you're out on the water, this is definitely one of the best sights going

"Unless you're out on the water, this is definitely one of the best sights going"

Photo by:
John Curnow


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