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Henri-Lloyd - For the Obsessed

Dragon and Etchells Regatta at Metung Yacht Club - Day 2

by Jeanette Severs 29 Jan 2023 00:59 GMT 27-29 January 2023
Plum Crazy sailed up the series leader board on race day two © Jeanette Severs

Tempers frayed, boats were disqualified, a race was abandoned because of a flag error, and the day nearly culminated in a protest, on day two of the two fleets' regattas being held on Lake King, at Metung.

The International Dragon Victorian Championship, and the East Gippsland Etchells Championship were hosted by Metung Yacht Club, on the Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, Australia.

At the end of day two, the lead had changed in the International Dragon class and remained the same in the Etchells class but not without controversy.

Three races were squeezed into day two, even after the first race was delayed for an hour while the race officer waited for wind to set the race course. Then he abandoned the first race and changed the race course when the wind direction changed.

The wind failed to appear which made for a slow journey from the marina across Bancroft Bay, around Shaving Point and into Lake King on Saturday morning. The start time for day two of the regattas was put back an hour, but fortunately a number of local people brought their power boats into Bancroft Bay to tow yachts into Lake King.

The full complement of seven Dragon boats was on deck, after some yacht skippers successfully effected repairs from the previous day.

One Etchell was a non-starter from the previous day's racing, but every other yacht that needed to effect repairs was on board, so 12 Etchells turned up for the start of race four.

As already stated, it took a while for the wind to appear, and when it did the race course was set over a distance of one mile for the Etchells, and 0.9 mile for the Dragons, heading into a light southeasterly.

When the wind swung to a steady 11-13 knots easterly, the race officer John Spencer abandoned the start of race four and reset the course, which needed the top markers to be moved.

The new course, retained throughout the day, saw the yachts in both classes heading into a 90 degree easterly, and sailing downwind with kites up.

Finally, race four was under way just after 2pm for the International Dragons, who all got a clean start.

After only a few hundred metres, A Touch Too Much broke their halyard, which saw them retire from the regatta.

The Dragons' race continued without controversy, and saw Karabos IX, with Nick Rogers at the helm and Lucas Upton and Leigh Behrens in crew, first across the finish line.

Into second place sailed Wicked II, with Fred Haes at the helm, and crewed by Sabrina Murphy, Adrian France and Will Crooke. Imagination was third, with Tarakona and Plum Crazy vying for fourth and fifth position respectively.

Rogers and his crew were definitely making the most of their experience from day one, watching Wicked II's stern all day and getting used to the wave and wind conditions on Lake King.

With slightly flatter water on day two, Karabos IX was across the finish line first in all three races, showing a clean stern to its competitors. It was only the following positions that changed.

The race officer, taking into account the late start and wanting to push three races into day two, gave competitors little chance to rest. Barely had a race completed before John Spencer was calling the Dragons up for the start of their next race.

Race five start and course was again straight forward racing for the Dragon yachts, with Rogers setting the pace.

Plum Crazy, with skipper Sandy Anderson and crew Susan Parker and Caroline Gibson crossed the line in second place behind Karabos IX.

Only 12 seconds later, Damien Daniel, with crew Dean Smith and Dean Robson, brought Imagination into third place, ahead of Tarakona, with Hugh Howard at the helm and sailing with John Johnson and Jeremy Nolan.

Wicked II completed the race crossing the line in fifth position, more than two minutes behind the leader.

Race six start was slightly more controversial, with some obvious jockeying for position, as skippers tried to pressure their competitors to cross the line before the start. An adept tack in the last seconds by Rogers and his crew saw Karabos IX cross the start line first but without jumping the start.

Tarakona wasn't able to avoid the pressure of those behind and Hugh Howard and his crew had to go back around for an individual restart.

At the bottom markers, most of the Dragon fleet went left, but the crew of Wicked II chose to go right. She wasn't alone for long, as Karabos IX tacked across from further up the course.

Coming downwind with kites up, the fleets were mixed as the Etchells headed for the bottom markers to turn for their second leg and the Dragons raced for the finish line. Ahead of their competitors, Rogers and his crew had to reduce their kite to accommodate an Etchell crossing their bow. Then they let the kite fill with wind again and sailed on to cross the finish line first.

Imagination was second across the finish line, almost a minute later, followed by Wicked II and Plum Crazy in third and fourth position respectively.

With a clean finish otherwise, the six Dragons sailed for home, knowing the following day - day three of the regatta, with only one race to contest - was a critical one to turn up for.

Where the Dragons' races were relatively straightforward, the Etchells' sailors experienced a far more complicated day.

The start of the first race was delayed when the race officer decided a course reset was necessary.

The beginning of race four saw the series leader, Go With The Flow, disqualified for an on course side before the start. The skipper, Richard Smith and his crew kept their yacht lurking behind the start line while the rest of the fleet sailed off.

Excite, with Toby Richardson at the helm, and Ollie Nicholas and Sam King in crew, were first across the finish line.

More than half a minute later, War of the Roses sailed into second place, with Jeff Rose at the helm and Mark Henger, Andrew Thompson and Sara Clough in crew. They were closely followed by The Archer, with skipper Jack Abbott and his crew of Jack Felsenthal, Hamish McKendrick and Tom Trotman. Only a few more seconds later, Ireland Girl with Kim McKendrick, Peter McNeill and Marcus Burke sailed across the finish line.

They were followed by Feng Shui and Basic Instinct into fifth and sixth place.

The race officer was turning the Etchells quickly around to start the next race. Unfortunately, the race five was abandoned after the start. One Etchell - Southern Pirate - was OCS. A subsequent mix up about which flag to raise saw some of the fleet continue to race, and others hold back slightly. More than one boat delayed their start wondering if they were the OCS disqualification.

After a short delay, John Spencer called the race abandoned. The restart was delayed while the Dragon fleet was given time to turn around the first markers.

When race five was restarted, all Etchells got away cleanly.

Ireland Girl was first across the finish line, followed by Excite and Go With The Flow in third place. Peter Wilkinson and his crew of Peter Bull, Tom Wilkinson and Pip Moore sailed Apres La Mer over the finish line into fourth place, followed closely by The Archer.

Nick Knezic, Mark Lainson and David Poulton brought home Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous ahead of War of the Roses, which AUS 1292 snapping at their sterns. AUS 1292 is sailed by Jack Bate (skipper), Peter Kanat and Peter Bate.

Tempers were fraying by the time the start of race six was called, with some crews pressuring their competitors to cross the start line early. Voices were raised between crews.

Local yacht Quandong was OCS, as Steve Bull and his crew of Wayne Smith and Brad Evans tried to avoid this pressure. After the start of race six, Quandong was allowed an individual restart.

Race six results saw The Archer cross the finish line first, ahead of Ireland Girl and Go With The Flow who tussled for second and third place respectively.

Excite sailed in fourth place, followed a little later by Basic Instinct (fifth) and Apres La Mer (sixth) who crossed the finish line with one second between them.

The series standings at the end of day two leave the regatta open and no clear leader until the finish of race seven.

At the beginning of day three of the two regattas, the series win and placings for each championship is up for grabs.

In the Dragons class, Karabos IX is in first place on seven points, with Wicked II one point behind. Imagination, on 14 points, is in third place on the series board. Plum Crazy is on 20 points in fourth place, with Tarakona on 21 points in fifth place.

In the Etchells class, Go With The Flow is still first on the series board, on 10 points, but it's a narrow margin. Excite is in second place on 11 points, Ireland Girl is third on 12 points, The Archer is on 13 points in fourth position. All of them have crossed the finish line in first and second place at least once.

Now that six races have been completed in each series, all four yachts have the option of dropping their worst performance, which will challenge the leader board for final standings. A disqualified result is eligible.

Going into the third and last regatta day, with one race remaining, the tactical advantage of being able to drop your worst performance means it does matter which yacht is first across the finish line in both regattas. Tactics, wind and the vagaries of sailing means the final result is still up in the air, until the final race is won.

Full results can be found here.

At the time of writing, some potential crew changes in the Etchells class are being considered. The race committee had already approved the replacement of Brad Evans with Rob Conn in Quandong.

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