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Dragon and Etchells Regatta at Metung Yacht Club - Day 1

by Jeanette Severs 28 Jan 05:54 GMT 27-29 January 2023
Karabos IX was chasing Wicked II all day, in the International Dragon Victorian Championship regatta © Jeanette Severs

Fast and furious sailing on Lake King

A touch too much wind brought some boats undone in the two fleets sailing in regattas on Lake King (at Metung, Australia) on day one of racing.

Wind speed was generally 18 knots during the day, but gusted up to 22 knots at times.

Nevertheless, race officer John Spencer decided to extend racing and squeeze in a third race on the course, and consequently allowed for two races over each of the next two days.

The International Dragon Victorian Championship is being hosted by Metung Yacht Club, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with racing in the wide expanse of Lake King. At the same time, the East Gippsland Etchell Championship is being hosted by Metung Yacht Club, on the same course, although slightly longer.

"I wanted to get three races in today, and it worked out well. We had three clean starts, with some good racing, a good consistent breeze, and the conditions were not too testing for competitors," Spencer said.

"The wind gusted a bit, but that made for good racing.

"We were pleased to get in three races, which should make racing easier on the remaining 2 days."

In choosing the race course, Spencer said he took into account local land conditions and the large size of Lake King - situated in the Gippsland Lakes, in Victoria.

"I wanted to keep the course away from the land, enabling boats on either side of the course to have plenty of room to move around."

A late retirement in the Etchells class saw 12 yachts take to the water on day one, Friday, January 27. There were seven Dragon class yachts registered and all took to the water for race one.

Both fleets were scheduled to race an almost identical course of two laps. The Dragon yachts sailed a slightly shorter course - 0.9-1.0 mile compared to 1-1.2 miles for the Etchells class.

In each race of the series, the Dragon yachts were first across the start line. Two minutes later, the five minute start sequence for the Etchells began for them to cross the start line.

Consequently, there was a lot of tactical sailing on show for crews to be able to hug their boats within 10 seconds of the start line, sailing into an oncoming breeze. The size of the waves on Lake King, which surface is flat compared to an ocean, very quickly drenched the competitors before race one.

Race one was uneventful, but saw the early retirement of Fascination, an International Dragon class, after gear breakage. The boat and its crew, skipper Terry Grundy with Clive Bury and Zane Ridgeway, retired for the day after finishing the race.

First across the line in race one, by several seconds, was local yacht Wicked II, with Fred Haes at the helm and Adrian France, Will Crooke and Sabrina Murphy in crew.

In second place was Karabos IX, with Nick Rogers at the helm and Leigh Behrens and Lucas Upton in crew.

Into third place sailed Imagination, skippered by Damien Daniel, with Dean Smith and Dean Robson as crew.

In the Etchells class, and fresh from international and national competition in South Australia, skipper Richard Smith and his crew of Bentley Conn, Matthew Maloney and Toby Conn steered Go With The Flow to victory.

Second to cross the finish line was The Archer, crewed by Jack Abbott (skipper), Hamish McKendrick, Jack Felsenthal and Tom Trotman.

Into third place across the line was Excite, with Toby Richardson at the helm, crewed by Ollie Nicholas and Sam King.

Race two was scarcely under way when Basic Instinct, an Etchell class yacht, was pulled up just beyond the start line, and the crew worked feverishly to make repairs to the main sheet.

After achieving the top mark on the first circuit of the course, Dragon class A Touch Too Much retired and headed home for the day.

By the end of race two, with the wind stronger and waves higher, another yacht had retired for the day.

The standings in the Dragon class remained the same, with Wicked II first across the finish line, followed smartly by a battle between Karabos IX and Imagination, which saw Karabos IX grab second place.

The competition was stepping up among the Etchell competitors. At the end of race two, Excite was first across the finish line, with Go With The Flow in second place. Into third place sailed Ireland Girl, helmed by Kim McKendrick, with Marcus Burke and Peter McNeil in crew.

With some solid two hours of racing now completed, and gusts up to 22 knots, there was potential for some change in the standings by the end of race three.

Race three started cleanly for both fleets, and saw some pretty smart sailing for the Dragon class competitors.

The standings across the line remained the same in the Dragon class. At the end of the day, Wicked II was on three points, Karabos IX on six points, and Imagination on nine points. Below the top three, the remaining two Dragon yachts have some ground to make up. Tarakona, helmed by Hugh Howard with a crew of Jeremy Nolan and John Johnson, is on 13 points. Plum Crazy, with Sandy Anderson as skipper and crewed by Susan Parker and Caroline Gibson, is closely behind on 14 points.

In the Etchells class, the first leg of the contest was uneventful, and was only marked by some tactical moves to try and make the most of the wind. Coming down the course to the turn, and dropping the spinnaker, Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous encountered trouble. The spinnaker went under the boat, causing them a significant delay in getting under way on the second leg of race three.

Fortunately, the regatta will enable each boat skipper to discard their worst performance as a tactical process towards winning.

Feng Shui had to retire on the second leg, with damage to the spinnaker pole.

The Etchells results after race three were Go With The Flow first across the line, followed by Ireland Girl, then The Archer third across the finish line.

In the series so far, given four races are still due to be contested, Go With The Flow is ahead on four points. Into second place has sailed Excite on eight points. Only one point more qualifies The Archer for third place in the series so far. Into fourth place, on 15 points is Ireland Girl, on 10 points.

Full results can be found here.

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