Etchells - From last to first and keeping the competition guessing

Peter our Bluegum Skipper and David (Ingenue) feeding back wind readings to the PRO. Old school - Australian Etchells Victorian State Championships 2011
Mandy McEvoy
The sun was out again on Port Phillip Bay and the breeze expected to shift from the North to the South/South West and blow 15 Kt’s according to most of the weather models (most!).

We set out about 10.30am for another stellar day’s Etchells racing and spent the best part of an hour chasing the wind, looking for some consistency to set a course and get the fleet of 26 away. The AP flag went up but the breeze steadied at around seven knots at 345 degrees and PRO Simon Dryden got them away around 12pm on a course of 320.

Watching them beat towards us on the bottom mark the field was certainly spread out and to our 'expert' eyes – those coming down the middle seemed to have it 'right'. The breeze had shifted some 20 degrees to the West and there was a course change signalled accordingly as the fleet rounded.

Around that first mark the leaders were those ranking pretty consistently in yesterday’s Top 10, led by North Sails’ Ross Llyod on The Nurse and Jake Gunther on The Boat thus I had to double check when Extra Bad Doll rounded last (well technically second last, poor Functional Overlay had gotten stuck in a big hole and J for Jig missed the start proper by 10 minutes).

Mike Hiatt, IRC/Grand Prix 'big boat' Living Doll Skipper/Owner and his young gun team of Matt Jones and Tom Lamb aboard Extra Bad Doll were a long way behind so it was to my complete surprise when after the run and next beat they then rounded the same mark in First place with a good lead over Jack’s Hut and Magpie ...

Extra Bad Doll on an incredible 2nd beat moving to 1st place for final downwind leg - Australian Etchells Victorian State Championships 2011
Mandy McEvoy

I had to double check the numbers – from last to first in relatively short windward leeward sailing is a big effort, let alone in one-design racing and amongst this group of World and Australian Champions and afterwards when I quizzed Mike as to how and why – (asking if he went down the middle) he simply and quite nonchalantly told me 'we went left, never entertained the middle and yes, it paid off' crediting Lamby, their tactician of course!

Second was Noel 'Nitro' Brennan on Jack’s Hut – who moved to overall first place in the Series with third to Graeme 'GT' Taylor and his Magpie team, moving them into overall second spot on the leader board in front of yesterday’s leader’s Banana’s in Pyjama’s (today 12th).

Current World and National Champion John Bertrand's Triad finished the race fourth keeping them in touch with the lead sitting overall seventh. Rounding out today’s top five was Fifteen.

The breeze wanted to shift South and we Race Volunteers certainly felt it swing a little and thus understood the PRO calling all boats in to the Marina whilst he waited again for it to settle in a meaningful direction for a second race.

Change it did as the breeze fiercely and quickly swung South and roared in between 25 – 30 kts. So too came the rain and there were Etchell sailors, race officials and spectators clamouring for cover as the rain teamed across Port Phillip Bay.

Circa 3.15pm PRO called it a day when technically abandoned and we all sought shelter in the bar.

Keeping people amused was another 'big boat boy' (but long time Champion Etchells sailor) Andrew Plympton of Flirtation and there was of course plenty of people asking Extra Bad Doll just how they did it!

Overall standing’s have only five points separating the top four but those of us familiar with one-design racing know consistency is key and with PRO calling first warning signal early at 0955 hoping to get at least two races in tomorrow – anything can and probably will happen.

For full Series results after three races see link - http://www.yachting.org.au/site/yachting/results/rbyc/2010-11/club/etchells_vic/SGrp1.htm

Competitors taking cover on the hardstand after the 1st race, Day 2 - Australian Etchells Victorian State Championships 2011
Mandy McEvoy