Day one of The Dock Mooloolaba Australasian Etchells Championship kicked off on Friday 8 June with three races in quintessential Mooloolaba lump, and a shifty breeze starting at 160 swinging to 100 degrees with 5 to 12 knots at times over the day.
Race one started right on time at 160 degrees and 1.8 nautical miles with the boat end looking favoured for angle and pressure. Matthew Chew and his Gen XY team 864 and JC Strong on 1435 got the best of the start, but it was 1348, Simon Cooke from Royal Akarana Yacht Club who led around the top mark by some margin.
In the soggy conditions, the race committee opted to shorten the second beat from to 1.3 nautical miles. John Bertrand and his crew of Ben Lamb and Mark Bulka on 1440, and Tom King 1442 had the biggest gains down the right hand side of the course on the first run. The NZ team 1348 managed to hold the lead from Queenslanders 864, and headed out to the left hand side of the course.
The shortened beat pivoted some ten degrees to the right midway up the track, and Tom King and his team on the Iron Lotus 1442 led around the top and into the finish to take the first race win from The Cure 1445 skippered by David Clark, and Gen XY 864 skippered by Matthew Chew.
The second race was pin favoured for the first attempt which was recalled. The second attempt was started on a U Flag, still set at 160 degrees with a beat of 1.5 nautical miles, and went more to the pin throughout the starting sequence. David Clark skippering The Cure 1445 nailed the pin, but it was David Turton on Our Thing 885 with the momentum who barrelled on to lead around every mark of race two. On the first beat the breeze went 20-25 degrees persistently to the left, and the rich who started on the left hand side just got richer.
For the first downwind the fleet of 42 boats had a leg with just one long starboard gybe, and the breeze just kept swinging with a change of course at the gate to 100 degrees for the second upwind. Every boat rounded the gate mark heading back out to the left hand side, and most made gains out of the left again on the second beat.
David Turton, Josh Torpy and Klaus Lorenz convincingly took the gun, John Warlow on Land Rat 1422 finished a strong second, with Top 40 1332, Peter “Billy” Merrington rounding out the top three.
For the third and final start of the day, the course stayed set for the new breeze at 100 degrees which had built to 10-12 knots. Defending champs Magpie appeared to have the gun start midline, but punched too early and were called as OCS. Tom King 1442 was the second boat from the pin and tacked to cross the fleet early. Simon Cooke 1348 peeled just 20 seconds later, the fourth boat from the pin and couldn’t quite make the cross, putting him next to compatriots Dangerzone 1936 skippered by Lincoln Fraser in the early stages of the race on the left hand side of the track.
The Cure 1445, Forte 1433 and Northern Havoc 1119 played left of centre in the cloud effected conditions and rounded the first top mark in that order. Conditions eased over the length of the run, and Iain Murray on 1119 managed to get inside Mark Crier’s Perth team on 1443 to round in second behind The Cure 1445, with most teams opting to go back out to the left hand side. The Sandringham Yacht Club contingent, Barry 924 skippered by Damien King rounded in fourth with Cruel Jane 1348 from NZ in close fifth to head left, while Tom King 1442 was the first boat to opt for the right hand gate.
The Cure 1445 extended their lead over Northern Havoc 1119 in the final stages of the last work, forcing them to do a late tack back to the left to clear their air. Cruel Jane 1348 and Dangerzone 1396, the two NZ boats both came in from the top left and just trailed the Big Fella (Iain Murray 1119) around the final top mark. The left had definitely paid again, best indicated by the team on 1435 skippered by JC Strong and their “Buffalo Girls” maneovre. They rounded in approximately 20th place at the gate, and were 7th to round the final top mark of the day from the left hand corner.
In the eased conditions up the work, where teams had all crew but the helm to leeward, most boats opted to change spinnakers to their light air option for the final run. Northern Havoc 1119 closed the gap on The Cure 1445, but David Clark took the bullet and finished of the day in top spot. Barry 924 sailed a brilliant run to move into third position from fifth, and the two NZ boats which seemed to be stuck like glue for more of the race finished in fourth and fifth.
David “Clarky” Clark, skipper of The Cure 1445, current regatta leaders put his consistency for a “terrific” day one down to consistent team work.
“Alan did a brilliant job placing the boat tactically, and Ray kept us going forward” said Clarky. “Poor Angus spent all day not feeling the best, but what a champion. Mum and Dad have taken him home to rehydrate him for tomorrow.”
On being the only boat without a higher placing, Clarky, forever the gentleman, put it down to luck.
“That could have very easily been us” he said. “It was a day where you needed to get leverage, and we were lucky that we went the right way. Let’s remember that it is still early days, and we will do our best to keep pushing tomorrow”.
Competitors enjoyed beverages and canapes for the daily presentation at The Dock Mooloolaba post racing, with Whalespars providing a $200 gift voucher for each heat winner, and Harken Australia providing prizes for second and third in each race.
Head to Adventures of a Sailor Girl for daily live coverage with guest commentator Michael “Cocko” Coxon from North Sails Australia, and other guests as they drop in with racing kicking off at 1100 AEST today, 9 June. You can also rewatch racing below or see the full results.