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Melbourne: enormous past year and plenty to look forward to

1 September 2009 Jake Gunther

Jake Gunther (Worlds 2009)

"Jake Gunther (Worlds 2009)"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

This year, rather than listing a lot of data, I would very much like to report on the incredible effort by all members of the Melbourne fleet who put on a fantastic World Championships in March this year.

The whole push for this event started long before I was elected Fleet Captain. When taking on that task I knew full well the responsibility it carried as the Worlds were always on the agenda. Anne Stubbings had been a great Fleet Captain and had definitely laid a solid foundation for me to work on. With all that good groundwork done, it was just a matter of closing the deal with the World Governors. Before we knew it, we had set the Melbourne fleet up for the sailing season of a life time.

Of the water, monthly meetings quickly became weekly meetings as the pace really started to pick up in the last few months. Everyone really stepped up and took responsibility for their allotted tasks. We basically delegated the jobs into on-water, off-water, volunteer and logistics management. I took on the role of overseeing and due to the fantastic efforts of all those involved, was able to compete in the regatta. Something I had been well warned off.

On the water things really hotted up. The Fleet was already one of the most competitive in the World, but with boats out training up to five nights a week, the sailing became sizzling. The problem we had was that our fleet only had nine spots for the Worlds and at least 20 boats that desperately wanted to compete. The qualifiers were always going to be a showdown and they proved to be exactly that. The series dragged on over several weeks due to unreliable weather and this resulted in some very serious nail biting. After four races some of our most competitive sailors were seriously teetering on the edge so the pressure never came off. In the end John Bertrand won from Dr Evil with one point to Barry in third. It was an amazing series.

At the end of the series our club PRO, Harry Tedstone, announced his retirement and left us all wondering how things would go without him. Harry had always led a fantastic team of club based volunteers who have been responsible for the extraordinarily high standard of race management at Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

Harry very kindly offered to continue up to the Worlds and for this we are eternally grateful. One of the great things that came out of the whole exercise was the way in which the Wilson Brothers were able to work so well with all the existing volunteers and come up with the best race management team I had ever been privileged to work with. I am sure many felt the same way. We set out to raise the bar on the water and I am confident we did.

The Nationals in Adelaide was well attended by the Melbourne fleet and those blokes that prefer their pies floating did a really fantastic job with the event. John Bertrand won the Nationals with the help of a couple of newbies. Mark Bulka was third. Biggs and crew were in fourth. The results speak for themselves. Go Melbourne!!

Next on the tour was Metung for the Victorian State Championship and as usual Metung, with perfect Etchells sailing conditions, showed us why we should head down there just after Xmas for what is fast becoming a highlight on the calendar. Next year we will hopefully get some more entries from NSW and maybe even Queensland. John Bertrand won with another inexperienced youngster, Tom Slingsby. He was closely followed by Rob Brown, Garry and Bruce on the Steampacket.

We had decided to run a series of pre-World regattas and they kicked off with a great weekend of sailing which was won by Dr. Evil. The next series was won by Mark Bulka and the Entire Port Phillips was won by everyone's mate, Dave Clark and the lads from Sydney.

There has been a lot written about the 2009 Audi Etchells World Championship and all of it was very positive. I personally would like to thank everyone that helped out .I started to list those that helped, but after two pages thought that this is not going to fit into this report. They know who they are and once again, I thank them all. I am very proud of what we all achieved and will always remember the experience as a 'job very well done'. At the end of the day it was an exceptional sailing event with everyone having a fantastic time. It was a hard fought and highly competitive competition, flawless on water management with a deserved winner at the end. Who could ask for more ?

It was great to see Niesje Hees win the Autumn series and Ian Crisp the Frank Hall and the May Trophy. The Footloose went to John Bertrand and the Frank Hall Trophy to Mark Bulka. The Martin Scott Trophy went to Damien King. Mark Bulka won the Season Aggregate.

The biggest prize of all was the Club Member of the Year from Royal Brighton Yacht Club and this very deservedly went to our very own Wayne Dixon for his efforts during the Worlds, and for being such a great bloke. I personally attended the presentation with him - somebody had to. A good time was had by all. John Bertrand also picked up the Phill Bedlington Achievement Award.

This year we again held a Victorian fleet executives meeting which was well attended. This has become a regular annual get-together to coordinate calendars and generally try to improve things. It was decided at this meeting that Royal Brighton Yacht Club would hold the Victorian State Championship this coming season, over the March long weekend. It was also decided that Geelong Fleet will now run the National Championship in 2011. All good stuff.

This year I am proud to say that I have been appointed Vice President of the Australian Etchells Association and intend to put in one more year as Melbourne Fleet Captain. I look forward to an active involvement in the fleet nationally and hope that I can assist the class in continuing its growth both at a club level and world-wide.

It's been an enormous year with some of the best sailing we will ever see. The Fleet is in good shape with Mark Bulka ordering a new boat for the coming season and lots of excitement among the stalwarts about the coming summer sailing season. Most importantly I would like to thank our treasurer Nick Knezic, our secretary Amanda Coates, our committee members Anne Stubbings, Wayne Dixon and all others who have worked so hard throughout the year. They know who they are and I am sure you do too.
Finally, I am sure all the Executive would like to sincerely thank all our members for helping us maintain and foster one of the world's largest and finest one design racing fleet.

See you on the water
Jake Gunther
Melbourne Fleet Captain
Australian Vice President, World Governor


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