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2020 Etchells Australian Championship at Royal Brighton Yacht Club - Day 2

by John Curnow 9 Jan 13:04 GMT 9 January 2020

Race Management under the leadership of Mark Taylor met and conquered the challenge of the day - fickle wind. It arrived, all five knots of it, from around 195 degrees. Thence it built to a massive 10 knots by the end of racing from around 140, but we had seen 125 as well. Almost on cue, once all the boats had crossed the line and were heading back home, it clocked even further left and went to 70 degrees and up range into the high teens.

Yes. All of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) volunteers did a spectacular job to get two windward/leeward races away on Day Two of the 2020 Etchells Australian Championship. PRO Taylor would comment afterwards, "Tested us a bit with those 20 degree shifts both ways just as we were about to commence. However, the crews played nicely, and so now we have two fair races in the bag. Best of all there were no OCSs, no UFDs, and no BFDs." (Sailing penalties)

"We are really pleased. If you asked me yesterday if we would have got two races in I would have said no, as I honestly thought it was going to be hard to get any completed, let alone two." There is no change to the schedule for racing tomorrow, and that means that it is unlikely any racing will occur, given the imminent arrival of a fairly severe buster.

The conditions also meant that as the day wore on, the Easterlies brought in a significant amount of smoke haze from the bushfires so affecting Australia right now. The red backstay ribbons are the Class' acknowledgement of the issue, and the Sailors for Relief donations via the fundraise.redcross.org.au/fundraisers/niesjehees webpage have today reached $3439. A big thank you to those who have made a cash donation, or purchased some of the donated second hand sails. It is expected that raffle tickets for the brand new North Sails jib will continue to be popular ahead of that draw at the end of the regatta.

The Corinthian sailors had their first coaching session this morning, which was very well attended. John Rodgers commented after being on the water to watch them all racing, "We had 10 boats turn up for our first briefing, which is fantastic. Then on the water afterwards, we had some of the crews mixing with the top of the fleet, which is a really great sign. Niesje Hees and her crew on Mid Gybe Crisis were in the top ten at every initial weather mark rounding, so that was just wonderful to see."

Tomorrow morning at 1045hrs AEDT in the Jock Sturrock room, the coaching session will involve a much larger interaction, and could well expand if racing ends up being weather affected.

Ryan Donaldson, the mainsail trimmer aboard Highlander from the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in Perth, who had a great day (6 and 10 to be in sixth place overall) commented once back ashore, "Just happy to be in and in the mix. Been pretty enjoyable racing. The biggest thing for us is trying to stay one step ahead of the conditions. We don't have as much local knowledge as others, so trying to keep our heads out of the boat and stay ahead of what is happening. The boat speed is pretty much there, so we are pretty happy with that and we plan to take each race as it comes." Highlander is skippered by Martin Webster, with Ryan, Sam Gilmour, and Kaiella Taylor as crew.

There are entries from Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria and also Hong Kong. Grantham Kitto's Rat Pack, crewed by Ethan Prieto-Low and Bradley Moore have also made the journey from Perth. "The racing was great. It was the perfect breeze for Etchells. I think they excel in that 10-12 knot range. Really happy to be here in Brighton, it's a beautiful spot, and the people here at the club look after you, so that makes it even better."

Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Richie Allanson on Havoc were second in the first race and first in the second. The reigning Australian and World Champions traded those spots with their training partners on Magpie, so are on equal points this evening. Murray said of it all, "It has all sort of continued on from where we left off at the World Championship in Texas, and the more recent Milson Silver Goblets on Sydney Harbour. So the new boats that replaced the old boats are good. The guys did a great job sailing today and we dug ourselves out from spots that were deeper into the field than we wanted, and so the upwind strategy worked."

"The racetrack offers a little bit of shift and bias in places so it keeps you on your toes really. We are trying hard to sail the boat very steadily downwind, and we haven't perfected it yet, but at times it shows good things for us, so we just have to keep practising it. You are always learning in sailing, and with these boats, even though we have sailed them for a long time, we still tinker, learn how to change things, we learn new rig settings, sails, adapting the mast bend, the forestay sag, and so the whole box and dice is critical in making these boats go fast. Keeping the trim right throughout the rig range is critical."

Many thanks to all the volunteers and officials from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club who are making the racing possible. We will be here, and also on the Australian Association Facebook page, and the event website is rbyc.org.au/calendar-event/etchells-australian-championship-2020

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