NEWS


Winners are Grinners! Lisa Rose celebrate their overall win in style! Seen a lot of water. Been to a lot of places. Today, Brisbane pretty much offered the classic mix of sun, and just enough wind for the last two races of the 2018 Etchells World Championship. I think it is fair to say that it was very much appreciated by all and sundry, whether they were competitors, or part of the large flotilla of spectators who took to Moreton Bay to witness the crowning of a new champion.

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It is always nice to be on station, on time, and with the prospect of racing getting underway near enough to the schedule. Tick. Tick. Even Huey, the God of Wind had delivered a wonderful Northerly in the ten-knot zone for 2018 Etchells World Championship to enjoy. There’s always a catch, and this time it was the tide was just about to begin to ebb. It had been a full moon overnight, and a massive tide to boot, with the walkways to the floating marina just about going uphill as you walked to the boats. Out on Moreton Bay, this was most evidenced by the fact the anchored vessels all swung through 90 degrees to be effectively beam on to the wind. Thankfully, I can report that nearly all of the international visitors have now worked out the tides, which in today’s case would be South to North. Cool. As a result, there were many more USA and GBR sail numbers present in the upper echelons of the mark roundings. Nice.

Looking at it, and knowing this is about sailing, you might expect that headline to be some reference to huge wind shifts. It is not. Mind you, out on the track today for the 2018 Etchells World Championship, we did see everything from 110 early on, to 050/060 degrees, with the latter being where it would settle in and allow two more races to be conducted. This brings the tally to six so far, which is a series, so well done to the entire Race Management team under the peerless Wilson Brothers.

There was more breeze this morning than there was this afternoon on Moreton Bay in Brisbane. This was great news, for it meant that after just a short stay ashore, the 2018 Etchells World Championship Race Committee sent the 94 boat fleet out for racing, and it looked like there was more than a great chance of getting two races in. Opting for the shorter Course Two, which is two complete windward returns, also set it up beautifully. Yet for my money, having them radio everyone to indicate most strongly that this was a Code Flag U start, meaning there were no prisoners to be taken, really did signal their intentions. For Race two, and after a General Recall, the dreaded Black Flag appeared. Unfortunately, both races claimed victims, and so the bar saw some sailors much earlier than anticipated. Some have scoreboard pressure to show for it, now that we have four races completed in the series.

The 2018 Etchells World Championship Race Committee has been pretty clear about it. They have lost the last two mornings to ultra-light and variable winds, and they want to run the best series they can until Saturday 1500hrs, when they can set no more races away. Nine in total would be ideal, seven makes for good times, and six is acceptable. You could call it a mission. So when they sent the fleet away to the course from the shore after being held on land for an hour and a half, it was a fair bet that Code Flag U would be deployed. After waiting for the continual flicks in the breeze to settle down, and the resultant course axis changes from 025 to 050 degrees, it was also somewhat evident that just the one race was on for the day.

On shore this morning you felt that it was going to be a grand day. The time had come. Race one, and even race two were upon us. A champion crew was soon going to be determined for the 2018 Etchells World Championship being held on Moreton Bay in Brisbane, Australia.

Ordinarily you might expect a big bash after a major regatta. Especially one where there is a weigh-in before, and then another halfway through the main festivities. Yet on the eve of the super-well attended 2018 Etchells World Championship being staged out of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron (RQ), this was a party that not only had to happen, it cemented do much about what this preeminent of sailing classes is all about. Namely superior competition on the water, and then marvellous camaraderie once back ashore. Now the reason for such a marker to be placed in the annals of history is that it is 50 years since Skip Etchells created the very vessel now so revered around the globe, and the one that attracts all manner of sailing superstars to her ranks. Yes. It was a birthday party fit for a milestone of this nature.

Well if practice does make perfect, then certainly getting all of the huge Etchells fleet out on the water and back again safely has been locked in. Sailing out or being towed, setting sails, heading up into the wind to lock in the direction and also the flicks were some of the items that this expert armada of sailors also proved they were totally conversant in. The sun was out for the morning briefing at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, where course layout and description, safety protocols, and starting procedures were carefully gone through. There was a delightfully mild and soft East to Sou’Easter wafting through at under eight knots, and the riplets were only just making about 200mm in height.

It has certainly been testing times in Brisbane for the 2018 Etchells Queensland State Championship. This regatta served as a warm up for the main event, the World Championship, which begins on October 21 for the 95-boat armada that has amassed to find out who is the best One Design crew on the planet. Winning the five-race pre-Worlds (as the QLD State Championship is known this year) is Iron Lotus (AUS 1442). Olympic Gold Medallist, Tom King, skippers her with crew, Ivan Wheen, David Edwards and Greg O’Shea. They are no strangers to the podium either, having previously won the 2012 World Championship, which was staged off Sydney Heads. Owen McMahon was on board then, instead of O’Shea, and Iron Lotus has also won the prestigious Australasian Championship in Mooloolaba, as well as the fiercely contested Victorian State Championship on the testing waters of Port Phillip.