Western Australian Etchells Championships - Drama on Day 1

Drama at the start - 2013 Western Australian Etchells Championships
Black flags, OCS, collisions and penalties dominated day one of the Western Australian Etchells Championships held on the Swan River.

The fleet was keen to leave the dock at 0730 in the brisk 15-18 easterly breeze for the scheduled 0830 start with many taking the opportunity to try and work out the 20 to 30 degree shifts that dominate an Easterly on the Swan before the first warning signal for the day.

Race one saw the fleet too keen, eventually to be called back under a general recall, the restart under black flag saw a shift to the right with Dirk van Der Struyf on Chilly Bin take the early lead after leaping out of the blocks, closely followed by Doug Kerr on Screaming Plum and Skip Lissiman on Bandwagon. Van der Struyf led to the top mark and down the first run however a shift near the top mark for the second time saw Screaming Plum round half a boat length ahead with Chilly Bin and Bandwagon overlapped for second and third and Mark Lovelady on Heart Starter sneaking into fourth.

Van der Struyf’s early leap out of the start proved a little too good with the team on Chilly Bin being scored BFD, Race one results therefore saw Screaming Plum take the gun from Bandwagon then Mark Lovelady on Heart Starter.

Race 2 soon followed in a solid 15 knot easterly that continued to have significant swings of up to 20 degrees. Race 2 saw past National Champion Peter Chappell on 1382 nail the start to command an early lead to control the fleet and lead from start to finish, Doug Kerr showed great consistency to notch a second with Alistair McMichael on Daylight Robbery sneak into third.

Race 3 and another 15 knot easterly had the fleet away under Black Flag, Peter Ahern on No Jacket Required showed he is not a shy starter and picked up his second BFD for the morning. Peter Chappell showed why he is such a great regatta sailor and picked up another first with Doug Kerr consistent into second and Grantham Kitto sliding into third.

The fleet went in at midday to accommodate the busy club racing conducted on the Swan each Saturday then hit the water again at 1630 for the final two races of day one.

Race 4 saw a huge pack of boats locked together and going nowhere at the heavily favoured boat end, plenty of collisions and a few penalty turns had the mess soon sorted out. Current National Champion Michael Manford on The Croc kept clear of the mess to take an early lead. Dirk van der Struyf on Chilly Bin dug himself out of the starting pile and headed left to pick up a huge left shift and looked to round ahead of Manford at the top mark. Chilly Bin tacked on a tight lee bow and attempted to shoot the mark, only to touch the mark and perform a painful 360 and drop back into the pack. Manford -the reigning National title holder showed why he is one of the best and went on to a comfortable victory followed by Mark Lovelady and Alistair McMichael, Grantham Kitto who was second across the line was scored OCS however has lodged a protest with the Race Committee so results may change.

The final race of the day race 5 kicked off at 5.30pm in the setting sun with a steady 10 knot easterly that continued to shift, providing plenty of passing lanes for the fleet.

Peter Chappell on 1382 was over early however managed to dip to still salvage a good start at the boat end of the line and followed The Croc around the course, closely followed by The Rat. That was how the race finished with The Croc scoring two race victories in the afternoon session to cap off an eventful day.

So after five races Doug Kerr on Screaming Plum leads on net nine points, Peter Chappell is second on 11 and Mark Lovelady rounds out the top three on 14.

Two more races scheduled tomorrow where anything can happen and if day one is any indication – it probably will.