Day two of The Dock Mooloolaba Australasian Etchells Championship kicked off on Saturday 9 June, and the race committee and race management team did a great job to get three races in the bag with one left to sail on the final day today. The breeze was far steadier than day one, shifting from 190, through to 120 as the land heated up ranging from 7-9 knots.
Race four started in 8 knots at 190 degrees and 1.4 nautical miles for the first beat. At the start the pin was favoured and the NZ team of 1348 skippered by Simon Cooke from Royal Akarana Yacht Club were punched early a third of the way to the favoured end. Midway up the first beat, Gen XY 864, arguably the best placed boat from the lefthand side was crossed by a pack on the righthand side of the course, and it was clear that the geographic effect of the land was going to come into play.
The pressure continued to fill along the shore with 1332 Top 40, skippered by Peter “Billy” Merrington coming back the strongest from the right side. He continued to lead around the top mark followed by 1422 Land Rat, helmed by John Warlow and 870 Encore, steered by Peter Conde.
The run favoured a straight set as the breeze shifted left in the final stages to 175 degrees, and 1332 Top 40, 1422 Land Rat, 1442 Iron Lotus, skippered by gold medallist Tom King, and 1435 helmed by JC Strong led around the first bottom mark. Most rounded the gate to head to the left side of the course with a course change to 170 for the second windward beat.
Peter “Billy” Merrington extended his lead up the final beat to round in front of 1422 Land Rat, 1435, 1442 Iron Lotus and 870 Encore as the breeze continued to persistently shift left.
Most straight set on the final leg into the finish and there were no changes in the top three, with Tom King securing a handy fourth to bring his overall score with one drop in play after four races to within six points of regatta leaders The Cure.
Race two started with an axis of 145 degrees at 1.4nm in 7-8 knots. There was also quite a bit of current or “set” from the remaining southerly swell heading northbound. For the start it was boat end favoured and 1348 Cruel Jane was launched. 864 Gen XY skippered by Matthew Chew was called OCS from near to the boat end.
Even though the boat was favoured, it was the left that was strong for the first beat with more pressure and then more shift and early leaders appeared to be 1348 Cruel Jane, 1444 Fumanchu, 1442 Iron Lotus, and 1440 Triad2.
At the top mark, the NZ team remained in control, with John Bertrand on 1440 Triad2 in close second, the Perth crew on 1226 Highlander in third and Billy Merrington nipping on their heels on 1332 Top 40.
Bertrand 1440 attempted to attack the leaders on 1348 Cruel Jane down the run but was unsuccessful, 1332 Top 40 moved into third with Land Rat 1422 moving into fourth ahead of the Perth team on 1226.
For the next beat the left delivered for those who were brave enough to hit it hard, and starboard gybe was again fast on the run with the “set” or current out wide.
The NZ team onboard Cruel Jane 1348 held their lead into the finish, and took the regatta lead by one point over day one leaders 1445 The Cure with the gun. 1332 Top 40 moved into second place to make it a 1, 2 for the day, and Magpie 1447 who gained out of the left on the beat and the run moved into third position.
For the third race, the second last of the series, the breeze settled at 120 degrees and eight knots, with the course set at 1.3 nautical miles. The pin was favoured, and at twenty seconds to go it was invisible, and it was no surprise that a general was called.
On the second attempt under a U Flag, 870 Encore skippered by Peter Conde was definitely out there, with 1348 Cruel Jane, and the fleet followed with a second general being called.
On the third attempt, under a black flag, the fleet finally behaved themselves and the Perth team on 1226 had the best start about a third of the way up the line from the pin.
The left looked strong early in the beat, but you either had to go all the way to the edge of the course, or be on the right to make gains with the middle punishing those who didn’t back themselves.
Heading into the first run it was Peter McNeill “Polly” on 853 Iris V in front, followed by 1383 Triad and 870 Encore skippered by Peter Conde. Conde looked to have the lead in the bottom third of the run, but positioned himself on the inside of the gates, and Polly 853 Iris V maintained their lead over 1383 and the advancing 870. There were a number of lead changes behind the front pack with pressure filling in from the right-hand side, and in the decreasing pressure overall the race committee opted to shorten the second work.
Peter Conde on Encore 870 was the first to tack after rounding the gate on the left-hand side of the course to position himself in the right-hand pressure and made gains on the leader, 853 Iris V. 1383 Triad matched 870 Encore and rounded the final top mark in the lead.
The team from RQYS on 1383 Triad went on to take the win from 870 Encore, with 853 Iris V in third position, and new and clear regatta leaders 1348 Cruel Jane in fourth position with one boat in between themselves and second placed 1445 The Cure.
Simon Cooke said as he headed back to base “better to be lucky than good”. Clearly a superstitious team, the NZ representatives didn’t come to the daily presentation at The Dock Mooloolaba post racing to collect their yellow leaders jerseys.
Whalespars provided a $200 gift voucher for each heat winner, and Harken Australia supplied 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 1000 AEST today, 10 June.