First Tracks storm home to secure Etchells Australian Nationals
Peter Merrington and his team of Ian McKillop and Steve “Mothy” Jarvin on First Tracks AUS1485 took the wins in the Etchells Australian Nationals and the Australasian Championships on Sunday 13 June winning the final race of the regatta over Martin Hill’s Lisa Rose AUS1484, and Mark Bradford’s Pie AUS947 which were also the overall regatta placings.
The fleet were sent out on time for a 1000 hours start in a southerly breeze.
After a lengthy on water postponement, the breeze finally started to fill in at midday around 235 degrees. The starting sequence kicked off by 1230 when the wind stabilised at 245 degrees, and the Race Officer set the two-lap course with a 0.9 nautical mile first work.
First Tracks AUS1485 nailed the start in the middle of the line, but it was the boat end boats of Flying High AUS1435 skippered by JC Strong and Yandoo XX AUS868 skippered by Neville Wittey who were the early leaders on the first work.
Ciao AUS1244 skippered by Douglas McGain, who were the leaders after day one of the event, rounded the top and gate in third followed by Paul Thackray’s Tranquility Base AUS1377.
As Lisa Rose AUS1484 was the only other boat that could potentially push First Tracks AUS1485 from the top of the leaderboard, it was no surprise to see these boats close together at the top of the work seventh to Martin Hill and tenth to Peter Merrington, and then on top of each other down the first run.
Yandoo XX AUS868 and Flying High AUS1435 were well in front at the bottom of the run, taking the starboard and port bottom gates, respectively. Before both headed to the left-hand side of the work which had paid on the first work.
Meanwhile, the battle for the overall lead had firmly moved into the hands of First Tracks AUS1485 who had moved up to sixth around the gate having also passed Lisa Rose AUS1484 on the run who rounded the bottom in ninth.
While it appeared that Nev Wittey and his youth Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron crew on Yandoo XX AUS868 were continuing to open their lead on the fleet up the second work, the breeze had other ideas, as it started to pivot to the right-hand side of the course. This resulted in a major shake up of the placings.
It was the regatta leaders on First Tracks AUS1485 who fared best to lead around the final mark of the course, followed by Tag AUS1330 skippered by Todd Anderson, Lisa Rose AUS1484, Mark Bradford’s Pie AUS947, and Yandoo XX AUS868 fell back to fifth.
The places by the finish mimicked the overall championship results, and solidified the win for Merrington, McKillop and Jarvin on board First Tracks AUS1485 who had secured the win without needing the ninth race of the series in the National Championship, but not the Australasian Championships.
After another on water delay following the large right hander in Race 8, the Race Officer got the racing away for Race 9 just after 1400 hours with the limit for racing looming at 1430.
The race was not to be and was called off at 1426 hours while the boats were approaching the top mark with breeze threatening the course from both sides.
“As far as the conditions for the four days, they were really challenging, not just for us but for the competitors” said Race Officer Louise Davis of the conditions for the Etchells Australia National Championship.
“To win in those conditions, and by such a margin is a pretty impressive feat” she commented on the performance of regatta champions First Tracks AUS1485 who secured not only the Etchells Australia Nationals, but also the Australasian Championship, “it was just not easy”.
“It’s always really great to work with people who are so enthusiastic, they just keep coming back smiling no matter what you ask them to do, it is just amazing to work with people like that” said Davis on the Mooloolaba Yacht Club team of volunteers.
It was a tough regatta for the volunteers and organisers following the Victorian lockdown and a major shuffle of the regatta crew, who all had to step up to make the program happen. Congratulations to all.
Special mention to the regatta organising committee, Trevor Martin, Suzanne Mabbott, Warren Myles, Mark Coghlan and Kerri Smith for their efforts to make this event happen given all the challenges.
Thanks also to the regatta sponsors; Sunshine Coast Council, Visit Sunshine Coast, Newport Apartments, Whale Spars, North Sails, Harken Australia, The Wharf Mooloolaba, Mooloolaba Marina, Kelly Green Cranes, Waterfront Agents, Bar Karate and The Dock Mooloolaba.
Nic Douglass @sailorgirlHQ