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Bertrand and team unstoppable say Etchells rivals 

16 January 2010 Rob Kothe

Bertrand and team

"Bertrand and team"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

It's 27 years since Australia II skipper John Bertrand won the America's Cup, but he still knows how to assemble a champion team.

Defending national champion Bertrand, dual Laser World Champion Tom Slingsby and Star Class Olympian Andrew Palfrey convincingly won the Murphy & Nye 2010 Australian Etchells Championship with a race to spare, signalling that Bertrand and team are likely to be the team to beat in the 2010 Etchells World Championship to held in Dublin Ireland in September.

Dockside Graeme Taylor (Magpie) who finished third commented "in this regatta Bertrand, Slingsby and Palfrey were close to unstoppable; definitely a better combination than when they raced in Melbourne in the Worlds. Britain's triple Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie was calling tactics there while Slingsby was calling the shots at these nationals.

"To get two firsts yesterday in very light and shifty conditions, you had to be close to God".

A similar comment to that was made by Taylor, from Damien King (Barry) who beat Bertrand and team in the 2009 Etchells World Championship in Melbourne, finishing second overall.

"John Bertrand, Tom Slingsby and Andrew Palfrey were overall in another league. We think John's combination is better now with Tom as tactician, rather than Ben Ainslie. They will be a real threat at the Worlds in Ireland."

Palfrey, part of Bertrand's winning Triad combination commented at the end of racing; "Tom (Slingsby) taught us a lot about succeeding in light puffy conditions this regatta.

"We still have decisions to make about sails before the Dublin Worlds. Here we've been sailing in one corner of the playing field, in very flat water. The kind of chop we could get in Ireland is much more akin to sailing in Melbourne."

A fleet of 58 Etchells from Victoria, Queensland, NSW, South Australia, West Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand competed in the nine race Lake Macquarie Yacht Club hosted series held the beautiful Lake Macquarie in NSW.

In the final day of racing the battle for the minor podium places was on in earnest in race nine, the last race of the Murphy & Nye 2010 Australian Etchells Championship.

After the second last race of the series, Graeme Taylor (Magpie) with crew Grant Wharington and Steve Jarvin were three points adrift of Damien King (Barry), Simon Cunnington, Andy Butler and James Ware, who were holding down second place in the Championship.

For race nine, international PRO Ross Wilson set the course at 095 degrees, with legs approximately 1.5 nautical miles long. The sun shone and the start line was over on the Coal Point shoreline.

Taylor positioned Magpie a third of the way down the line from the Committee Boat and got badly boxed in at the start. By contrast his main rival for second place, Damien King (Barry) got a good start and led the left hand side of the fleet away.

The winners of the first leg came from the middle of the course and at the top mark for the first time it was Mark Langford on Critical Balance who rounded ahead of Mark Thornburrow (Dream On (Racer x)), Ian Johnston (Bananas in Pyjamas) and Tom Braidwood (Fantazia). Then came Jake Gunther (The Boat), Kirwan Robb (Pedro 11) and Damien King (Barry) who had dropped back through the fleet, then Jervis Tilley (Bushfire) and Julian Plante (North Star), John Bertrand (Triad) was around 15th, while Taylor (Magpie) was buried and very deep.

As the Etchells came down to the bottom mark for the first time, spinnakers flying, the breeze was holding at seven to eight knots.

At the bottom mark the first five places were unchanged. Tilley (Bushfire) had moved up two places while Plante (North Star) had moved from 13th up to eighth. Bertrand (Triad) moved from 15th to ninth.

Taylor (Magpie) coming up the beat for the second time went hard right crossing the fleet and made a huge gain. The leaders were coming up on the right hand shore. Taylor's rival Damien King (Barry) was back in 11th.

The manoeuvre paid for Taylor; he made up around 20 places. At the top mark for the second time Langford was still leading from Braidwood, who had moved from fourth to second. Thornburrow was third, Johnston fourth, Tilley fifth and Gunther sixth.

Damien King was seventh and just ahead of Graeme Taylor, who was not about to let his rival slip away. Plante and Brendan Garner (The Moe Szyslak Experience) completed the top ten.

Mark Langford (Critical Balance) led all the way to win Race 9 of the series. Mark Thornburrow (Dream on (Racer x)) finished second, ahead of Ian Jonhston (Bananas in Pyjamas), Tom Braidwood (Fantazia), Jervis Tilley (Bushfire), Julian Plante (North Star), Jake Gunther (The Boat) and Adam Beashel (Steam Packet 7).

Graeme Taylor just edged out rival Damien King (Barry), but it was not enough. King secured second place in the Championship, with Taylor finishing third.

Taylor said at the end of the final race day "we had a shocker up the first beat around 40th, so we decided to go right and there was good pressure and that brought us back into the competition. We are just happy to be able to mix it up with the fleet."



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