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Dragon and Etchells Regatta at Metung Yacht Club - Day 3

by Jeanette Severs 30 Jan 2023 06:54 GMT 27-29 January 2023
Karabos IX, Plum Crazy and Wicked II upwind in race seven © Jeanette Severs

Going into the last day of the two fleet regattas at Metung yesterday, the final result in each series was dependent on the outcome of the last race. It made for interesting speculation among competitors and supporters.

The International Dragon class Victorian Championship seven race series was going down to the wire. Nick Rogers and his crew in Karabos IX were on top of the series ladder, with Wicked II skippered by Fred Haes one point behind in second place.

If Haes crossed the finish line first in race seven, he would be the Victorian Champion on count back. So Rogers had to ensure Karabos IX was across the finish line first, for a clear win; or hope someone else relegated Wicked II to the placings.

The Etchells East Gippsland Championship was a similar scenario. Go With The Flow was on top of the series ladder at the end of six races and skipper Richard Smith needed his yacht to be first across the finish line for him to take home the championship.

Close to his stern and only one point behind in second place on the series ladder was Toby Richardson and his crew in Excite. But there were four Etchells in with a chance of the Championship title, depending on the final race outcome. The other two yachts were The Archer and Ireland Girl.

The best cumulative score with the option of dropping the worst individual race result was a rule of both regattas. The rule came into place when six races were completed in the series. For Smith, this meant he could drop the score from his OCS when he was disqualified.

There were applications for crew changes in the Etchells class prior to yachts setting off for the race course on Lake King, at Metung, in Victoria, Australia.

Peter Wilkinson, skipper of Apres La Mer, sought approval to bring in Wayne Kent to replace an unavailable Gus Kinnear. Skipper Steve Bull sought the replacement of Brad Evans with Rob Conn, in Quandong. Both crew changes went through without controversy.

In a repeat of the previous day, several yachts needed towing to the race course. While the wind was light, it was also a strong outgoing tide that caused, in particular, the lighter hulled Dragons to struggle to get around Shaving Point into Lake King.

With a prevailing northerly wind, the race officer, John Spencer, decided to utilise Tambo Bay and extend the race course for the first time in three days. However, the wind speed was still an issue. At eight knots, the breeze skipped fairly across the surface of Lake King and the course was initially set at five degrees.

While the distance for the race course remained the same - 1.1 nautical miles for the Etchells class, and one mile for the Dragon class - a reset saw the top markers laid out at zero degrees, across Lake King and well into Tambo Bay.

From a local perspective, the decision to change the course route to a northerly heading meant there was no advantage to any crew - local or visiting.

Tactics sailed into the wind

After another delay, and with wind speed dropping, the Dragons were first to start. With A Touch Too Much still out from the previous day, there were six yachts in the final race.

Imagination, at that stage third on the series leader board, and crewed by Damien Daniel (skipper), Dean Smith and Dean Robson, went out strongly across the start line.

By the time the Dragons were halfway up the course, wind speed had dropped to 4.5 knots - if it was to drop to three knots or lower, there may have been consideration to shorten the course length in the second leg.

The Dragons were sailing either starboard or port side of the course, depending on the skippers preference. Damien Daniel and his crew in Imagination favoured the port side and were well clear of the field. Next was Sandy Anderson and her crew on Plum Crazy, favouring the starboard side.

Rogers and his crew in Karabos IX, and Fred Haes and his crew in Wicked II favoured the starboard side of the course and were sailing in a group with the remaining two Dragons well behind the front markers.

It was an incident-free turn around the top markers for the Dragons, with Karabos IX retaining its lead over Wicked II and kites full going downwind. As the final Dragons rounded the top markers, the leading Etchells were heading towards their markers, which made for a crowded lake on the downwind leg.

At the bottom markers, Imagination was still leading the race, and Karabos IX was gaining ground. Imagination continued to favour the port side on the return leg, and Karabos IX the starboard leg.

About 300 metres from the final turn, Imagination tacked to starboard, in a four knot north wind that skipped about. Karabos IX tacked and pulled ahead of Imagination and retained that lead.

By the time Rogers, Leigh Behrens and Lucas Upton of Karabos IX had the kite up, most of the field was nearing the top markers.

At a wind speed of about three knots, Karabos IX retained the lead along the final downwind leg, crossing the finish line well ahead of Imagination in second place.

There was a close tussle for third place between Plum Crazy and Wicked II. The crew of Wicked II took their yacht across the finish line into third place, followed 15 seconds later by Plum Crazy in fourth position.

Tarakona finished in fifth place when her crew took their yacht across the finish line 19 seconds later. Fascination was another three minutes behind.

Back on land, a protest was lodged by one competitor that went to arbitration (pre-hearing). At the conclusion of arbitration, the protest was withdrawn.

In due course, Rogers, Behrens, Upton and Karabos IX were presented with the JJ Savage Memorial Trophy as winners of the International Dragons 2023 Victorian Championship. They also received the Robert Trenberth Trophy from Metung Yacht Club.

On the series leader board, Karabos IX was first on a score of eight points, Wicked II second on 11 points, Imagination (16 pts) in third place, followed by Plum Crazy (24 pts), Tarakona (26 pts), Fascination (38 pts) and A Touch Too Much (46 pts, and retired in race four).

Lighter conditions favoured Etchells

The lighter conditions seemed to favour the Etchells - even over the longer distance, the leaders approached their first markers as the Dragons were beginning their first downwind leg. The Etchell yachts favoured the port side of the course.

There was little in it between Go With The Flow and Excite. Richardson and his crew brought Excite to the top markers first, narrowly ahead of Go With The Flow. As each yacht opened their kite, the race was set to be close as the two crews competed for each other's wind.

At the bottom mark, Excite was first around the marker, with The Archer, crewed by Jack Abbott (helm), Hamish McKendrick, Jack Felsenthal and Tom Trotman, ahead of Go With The Flow.

Coming up the starboard side of the third leg, the race was still tight between Toby Richardson, Ollie Nicholas and Sam King on Excite, Go With The Flow - crewed by Richard Smith (helm), Bentley Conn, Matthew Maloney and Toby Conn, Abbott and his crew in The Archer and Ireland Girl, skippered by Kim McKendrick, with crew of Marcus Burke and Peter McNeil.

The final downwind leg had the potential to be the decider for the race, the series and the East Gippsland Etchell Championship.

Again, crews were competing with each other for the wind, which was down to three knots at times. Excite, The Archer and Go With The Flow made the final turn close together.

At the bottom of the last leg, it was Excite across the finish line first, in a time of 1:06:49. The crews of Go With The Flow and Ireland Girl vied for second place, with Smith and his crew pushing their yacht ahead and across the finish line two seconds faster than McKendrick and his crew.

War of the Roses, with Jeff Rose (helm), Mark Henger, Andrew Thompson and Sarah Clough, had gained ground in the final downward pass to finish the race in fourth position.

Nick Knezic (skipper), Mark Lainson and David Poulton, in Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous, were able to keep Abbott's The Archer behind them, crossing the finish line six seconds ahead.

The remaining field finished in the order of Apres La Mer, Feng Shui, AUS1292, Basic Instinct, Quandong and Southern Pirate.

The final outcomes in race seven saw Go With The Flow and Excite tied at the top of the series leader board on 12 points each.

No protests were lodged.

Back on shore, on a count back, Excite's crew of Richardson, Nicholas and King were awarded the Etchells East Gippsland Championship, with Go With The Flow in second place.

Ireland Girl was in third position on 15 points, followed by The Archer on 18 points.

The remaining competitors finished in the order of War Of The Roses (30 pts), Apres La Mer (32 pts), Count Boris's Secret Rendezvous (44 pts), AUS1292 (52 pts) narrowly ahead of Basic Instinct (53 pts) and Feng Shui (53 pts), Quandong (56 pts), with Southern Pirate on 61 pts.

Odyssey did not race after retiring in race one.

Series results can be found at www.topyacht.net.au/results/metung_vic/2022-2023_regattas/dragonsetchells/series.htm

Smith and Go With The Flow were awarded the Rex Billings Trophy for winning race one of the series. Richardson and Excite received the Barry Ravell Trophy for winning race two of the series. Smith and Go With The Flow were awarded the David Lawrence Trophy for winning race three of the series.

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