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Etchells NSW Championship at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron - Day 1

by Nic Douglass 18 Feb 22:54 GMT 18-20 February 2022
First Tracks extending their regatta lead in Race 3 - Etchells NSW Championship © Nic Douglass /

The Etchells NSW Championship commenced yesterday on Sydney Harbour from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS).

First Tracks AUS1485 skippered by Peter Merrington with Ian McKillop and fill-in bow David Gilmour posted a dominating 1, 1, 2 to lead after day one. Matt Whitnall, Rob Bishop and Adrian Dunphy (Corinthian) Dawn Raid AUS1361 are in second overall, and Flying High 2 AUS1435 skippered by JC Strong with Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton is in third.

Race 1 started in a eight knot easterly after a short postponement at 1245 local time.

Initial leaders were Tango AUS1466, skippered by Chris Hampton followed by Doug McGain's Ciao AUS1244 and Dawn Raid AUS1361 skippered by Matt Whitnall.

First Tracks had an exceptional first run, and went on to win the race, followed by Dawn Raid and Adam Magpie AUS1187, with Col Tapper on the helm, a fantastic race from one of the new youth teams to the class.

"Thanks to Mothy firstly for allowing us to sail this boat as part of the Etchells youth program", said nineteen-year-old Col Tapper.

"George called me up to race last fortnight in the Goblets, and we got out there and just loved racing the boat, and with each other, and the fleet is pretty awesome so, yeah it hooked me, so I'm doing this regatta and hopefully more in the future".

"It was pretty awesome [to come third] we were lucky with our start, and then just built our way up the first beat and kept in touch. In these boats, once you get your nose out in front and some clear air it's pretty good. The difference in speed is so small that it's really important that you are on top of everything and continue to get better" he said.

"When we get it right, we seem to be going alright, but there are times when we have definitely been getting it very wrong. We have lots of positives to build on though and we will be back out there racing tomorrow" he finished.

Race 2 got away on the third attempt under a Black Flag. Hampton's AUS1466 and Boillot's AUS865 were pinged for being over early.

Wobbegong 2 AUS1436 skippered by Roger Perrett made the most of the shifty track, rounding the top mark with a buffer back to the rest of the fleet.

It wasn't enough of a buffer to fend off the winners of Race 1, First Tracks, who again made big gains downwind to lead around the bottom gate. They weren't headed from there, JC Strong and her team of Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton on Flying High AUS1435 sailed through to second, and Wobbegong 2 AUS1436 held onto third.

For the third start, the pin was favoured, and won by AUS1466, Tango skippered by Chris Hampton, with Sam Haines and Cameron Miles, coming back after their black flag. However, the breeze curled forty degrees to the right on where the race started on the first work. Not surprisingly, First Tracks was there to make the most of the southerly shift, and went on to lead around the top mark. With an upwind finish for the first time in the series, Christian Brook, RSYS Commodore and his team of Ant Elliot and Adam Roberts-Thompson on Ciao Bella AUS1362 took the lead from the right on the last work to the finish and went on to win the final race of the day over First Tracks and Neville Wittey and his RSYS youth team including Kyra Early, Zac West and Jameson Prescott on Yandoo XX AUS868.

First Tracks had a replacement bowman today, it was David Gilmore's first day on an Etchells, and on the bow.

"We had a good day, it's always good to sail in a good class and to do something new and different" he commented as he was in transit to jump straight onto sailing the Volvo 70, Willow. "It's always good sailing with a good team, so that was quite good as well".

On the last race and losing the lead "the other guys sailed quite well, and then went the right way on the last upwind. It was probably a race that we should have extended in, but we weren't sailing well, and he [Brook] sailed better".

"The breeze swung about 40 degrees on the first beat, but it came back. The easterly and the south-easterly were fighting each other all day. We didn't know what was going to happen all day, it made it very tough to figure out what our strategy was going to be".

"We thought the pin was favoured in the last race, but you wanted to go right so if you could tack and get out on port, that was the best scenario. We also didn't have any boats starting around us, so we could get our tack in, and that was what helped in that final race".

There are two days remaining in the Etchells NSW Championship, to follow live, head to Etchells Australia on Facebook, or find more information at

There are two days remaining in the Etchells NSW Championship supported by Sentinel Risk Managers, Sail Racing and North Sails. The media partner, Hill PDA is also supporting live coverage of the event, to follow, head to Etchells Australia on Facebook, or find more information at

For more information, follow the NSW State Championship:

More information on the National Championship to be sailed from Metung Yacht Club 2-6 March 2022:

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