Of course, a series that had already seen no wind, searing heat, massive shifts and then been completely blown off the track by a strong Southerly change was going to deliver more excitement before it was over. However, today’s intrigue was not caused by the weather for a change. It was cool to cold and ranged from about 155˚ to 190˚, with 160 and then 180˚ being used as the axes for the two races that went out over a 1.8nm range.
Perhaps the enforced rest day on Thursday meant that the enthusiasm levels returned to their more heightened levels. This meant neither of the races got away cleanly. The first was returned after the fleet crowded the Committee Boat end and then like a massive rugby scrum, just pushed the ball over the line for a try. As in try again… Kevin and Ross Wilson then said fine, we’ll go to Code Flag U in an effort to make the 48-boat fleet play nicely.
You thought it would work and looked pretty much like it, but three crews were singled out for special attention and that meant they had to sit it out like naughty kids forced to sit in the corner at kindergarten. Sadly, one of these boats was Racer X from Hong Kong. Going into the morning they had been in second place, three points adrift of Magpie, but their regatta effectively ended there and then. Commiserations team, but thank you for coming along…
Soon it was evident that all the wasted time getting a race away had meant that the scheduled third race would have to be scrapped, for it would have started to late. The team changed to course one, which meant they would all have to work back up to the windward mark to get to the finish.
In one of the many adjustments required to have the line square and a fair and true course laid, the pin boat actually managed to ensnare the pin mark’s anchor line around their own propeller. This caused another delay, but you get the feeling the sailors needed a little more breathing space anyway, so there were no disgruntled voices to be heard.
The next race was also recalled and they were asked to play nicely once more, with the U getting yet another outing. Alas, this too did not work and another General Recall was enforced. Time for the dreaded Black Flag to get an airing! It worked. They all stayed behind the line, but not by as much as you would have thought, in the end.
Now you may have felt that this would be the last of the hijinks, but this is Etchells racing and that just would not do. Some on course incidents and gear damage led to retirements for three craft, and yet this too was not the zenith of the game.
That came in the form of a man overboard from Animal House. Another followed in the attempt to recover him. They were collected by one of the coach boats and then returned to their own craft. No worries about being wet, for the countless moguls they had gone through during the day had already accounted for that, several times over.
Still there was more to come. The media vessel drained its port tank on the run back down to the leeward mark for the first time during that last race. It required a manual transfer to the starboard tank, which involved closing off the old tank and opening the new one, including the return line for the diesel coming back after cooling the injectors.
No problem and then there was the bleeding of the lines and priming. After the first time there was a cough and a splutter and she ran for a short moment. Back down into the engine room to prime some more, but you guessed it, she did not want to run. It was about now that one Etchells was returning to the top and the boat was in her path. Might is right, after all, and they tacked away to avoid the stricken craft.
Success was achieved after the third priming session in the engine room. The person who had gone down now felt he had endured a sauna session, much like those sailors attempting to make weight before weigh-in. The only difference was the fume factor, which added to the dizziness factor by some margin.
Back ashore, the sailors from all over country were spent, but glad to have had superb breezes and ample opportunities to surf downwind. All felt it was a great track to be on and happy that they had made the journey to be part of it all.
Apart form the Royal Brighton YC volunteers and race management crew; one person was singled out in every speech for his efforts in making this hugely successful regatta come to be in the first place. Peter Coleman, the Melbourne Fleet Captain, has been hard at for over six months. It showed in the way everything ran smoothly and the people lining up to buy him a drink after it was all done.
Coleman commented after it all, “Yes it was a delight to be the organiser, but special thanks has to go to the West Australians and Racer X from Hong Kong for making the big journey. The club’s volunteers have been amazing and those Wilson brothers (Ross and Kevin) are just something else. It was an unbelievable event in the end and thank you so much to everyone for helping make it so.”
Bruce Maloney, representing the Perth Fleet, was here to sail, All Care No Responsibility, with Alistair Marchesi and Gus McBriar. There were five crews that made the trek across the Nullabor and it seems like they found it worthwhile.
In 2018, it will be their turn to hold the Australian Championships, so being at Brighton held a special significance for Maloney, who commented, “This year’s nationals was fantastic. All of us from WA have had a great time. It was great to sail against this seriously good level of competition and our time on the water has been thoroughly enjoyable.”
“Peter Coleman and his team have put together a tremendous regatta. We look forward to hosting this in 2018 and see if we can reach the same mark.”
So yes it is true. Magpie was sailed by complete champions, because they are all really nice people to boot, but then that also applies across the whole fleet when you’re talking Etchells.
Today’s interviews with the crew of Magpie can be found at:
Richie Allanson – https://youtu.be/qn3AUY7RCzc
Graeme Taylor – https://youtu.be/iQZpGxzdkp0
James Mayor – https://youtu.be/lvUurpgLmyg
By John Curnow