Locals lead after day one at the Etchells Australasian Championship
Thirty teams from as far as Hong Kong and New Zealand lined up offshore from Mooloolaba yesterday for the first three races of the Etchells Australasian Championship for 2019 but it was the local skipper, David Turton on “Our Thing” 1446 who finished on top after the first three races.
In average breezes of 160-165 degrees and 10-13 knots, at times as windy as 23 knots and as light as six knots after passing squalls, and serious swell all day, the unpredictable racecourse of Mooloolaba did not disappoint.
In race one, it was Peter Merrington on Top 40 1332, who led around the top mark, followed by David Turton 1446, Peter McNeill 853, Graeme Taylor 1447 and Van Der Struyf 832. Interestingly, Mark Roberts on Fumanchu 1444 and Raymond Smith on The Cure 1445 started the race alongside one another, and rounded the top mark in the exact same position just behind the top five.
Merrington sailed a great run to continue his lead, but it was Turton who had the upwind advantage on the second lap, and led from the final top mark into the finish, to take the first win of the series with his crew Josh Torpy, and current World Champion crew in the Etchells class, Julian Plante. Peter Merrington and his crew of Geoffrey Bonouvrie and Ian McKillop held second, Raymond Smith with David Clark, Alan Smith and Mitchell Luxton sailed into third, Noel Drennan HKG1428 moved up to fourth and Peter “Polly” McNeill held onto fifth.
In race two, Van Der Struyf on Animal House 832 led around the top mark from Taylor 1447, Conde 870, McNeill 853 and Turton 1446. Taylor’s Magpie with new bowman Tom Slingsby and replacement middleman Matt Chew went on to take the gun, followed by Van Der Struyf 832, then 1446 Turton, who solidified his position on top of the leaderboard after two races.
“We head off to the US to start training next week so this regatta worked in well with our training” said Slingsby, Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winning sailor.
On the racing in Mooloolaba, Slingsby who has raced at numerous venues around the world praised the quality of the race track.
“It’s a competitive fleet and a great venue. Billy (Peter) Merrington is definitely in with a shot of winning, there are five or so teams with a chance which makes it interesting. It’s not really a drag race out there. There are so many unpredictable parts to this venue which makes it more enjoyable racing”.
Race three was arguably the trickiest of the three races, with rain squalls moving across the course varying the direction at times, but mostly the strength of the breeze, from 6 to 23 knots. Gear changes were not surprisingly paramount.
James Hodgson, local youth sailor and current Australian Match Racing Champion port tacked the fleet on “Just too funny”.
The top three didn’t vary too much from the top mark, despite the variable conditions. First across the line was Peter Conde 870 with a fair bit of distance, with Matt Ramaley 1463 just beating David Turton 1446.
After the three races, local Mooloolaba sailor David Turton 1446 holds the lead with a 1, 3, 3 over Graeme Taylor 1447, and then Peter Conde 870. With four races left to sail, the event is still wide open.
A massive thanks and congratulations to all volunteers at this event. Yesterday was a particularly tough day on the water with the sea state and rain, and all got on with their jobs to make sure the sailors could have a simply fantastic day of racing.
After racing, the sailors gathered at the Mooloolaba Yacht Club at The Wharf, and each heat winner was awarded a $200 Whale Spars voucher, with minor placings being awarded prizes from North Sails Australia and Harken Australia.
Nic Douglass, Adventures of a Sailor Girl is covering the event with live feeds each race including drone footage from H2O Media, so make sure that you tell your friends and family to get onto Facebook and watch this amazing regatta come to life in real time. Channel 7, Channel 9 and WIN are also covering the event with wraps at various stages throughout the event, so be sure to check them out if you are in the local area.
We hope to see you soon, whether in person or online as part of the Australasian Etchells Championship.