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Etchells Gold Coast Championship at Southport Yacht Club - Overall

by Nic Douglass 29 May 2023 14:13 BST 27-28 May 2023

Graeme Taylor and his team of Richie Allanson and James Mayo sailing AUS1486 Magpie from the Mornington Yacht Club have taken the International Etchells Class Gold Coast Championship, sailed 27-28 May from the Southport Yacht Club, with two race wins on the final day of racing.

"It was just a lovely day on the Gold Coast but light and tricky to go sailing", said Taylor of the final day of racing.

"Before we left the dock we had a simple two-point plan for the day. Point 1 to win the first race and Point 2 to win the second race".

After a lengthy delay, the fourth race of the series got away in a breeze slightly east of north at 30 degrees, with a 1 nautical mile beat. The first start, showing the anticipation of the sailors, was a general recall, before the fleet got away on their second start cleanly.

Around the top, Mark Roberts' AUS1473 Fumanchu2 with Ben Lamb and Jake Newman followed by Grant Hudson's AUS1278 Pegasus with Brian Donovan, Sasha Ryan, and David Smith and the Western Australian team, AUS1433 Forte skippered by Mark Crier, with Anderson Fetherus and Robbie Gibbs.

"Race 1 we had a fairly average start and got ourselves boxed in down at the pin. We struggled to get clear up the first beat, and went around the top in sixth or seventh. We were quick downwind and closed the gap nicely to the leader and rounded the bottom in 3rd" Taylor remarked.

AUS1473 Fumanchu2 were the first to round, followed by Pegasus AUS1278 and then AUS1486 Magpie and AUS1433 Forte.

"We were first to tack on port, the long leg, and got to second but the top. Final run was very tricky but we were lucky enough to slide past for the win", Taylor explained.

The win for AUS1486 Magpie over AUS1473 Fumanchu2, who started the day on top, brought the scoreboard within one point for the top two, as the sailors anxiously awaited to see if there would be a sixth and final race.

After two general recalls the fleet got away on a U Flag, though it wasn't without disqualifications for AUS1482 Racer CC, and AUS1478 Traid2020 taking them both out of contention for the overall win.

At the top it was AUS1278 Pegasus followed by AUS1433 Forte, AUS1483, and AUS1486 Magpie.

"We tacked early out of the start and headed to the right with Mark to leeward", described the skipper of AUS1486 Magpie.

"We managed to get in front of Mark [Roberts, skipper of Fumanchu2] about half-way up the beat but lost a few boats in the right. We rounded in fourth and were fast downwind again closing on the leaders".

"We rounded the bottom in third and were first onto port to lead the port tack again".

The final race was shortened to finish at the top of the course, and AUS1486 Magpie finished strongly to take their second win of the day and the Championship.

"We were lucky enough to take the lead on the second beat and hold on for our second win of the day," said Graeme Taylor commenting on the final race win.

"The event on the Gold Coast was fantastic. It was really well run and it is such a great place to go yacht racing. I had never raced here before but I will make a point of coming back".

"It's fantastic to be back in the Etchells with James and Richie, they are both a delight to sail with. We have a busy program ahead and will be working hard to focus on attempting to win the worlds in Perth next year" finished Taylor.

Speaking of the Worlds in Western Australia, another standout performance for the final day was from Mark Crier and AUS1433 Forte to take second in the final race, with a sixth in the first of the day. A fitting finish for the boat from Fremantle who are on the east coast to train and promote the Etchells World Championship next March.

Mark Roberts and his team on AUS1473 Fumanchu2 took out the Masters division as well as the overall runners-up.

"A great last day by GT [Graeme Taylor], Jimmy [Mayo] and Richie [Allanson] in really tricky conditions to get the chocolates. Well done men. My huge thanks to Ben Lamb and Jake Newman for getting Fumanchu2 around a bloody difficult track and being just great blokes to sail with. In such a quality fleet a second is very cool. Thanks also to the Gold Coast Fleet and SYC for turning on a fantastic event and being such exceptional hosts. What a fantastic place to sail", complimented Roberts.

AUS1483 Great White Hunter skippered by David Dunn with Daryl Roos and Sandy Higgins took out the Grand Masters division, and Jan Muysken's AUS1450 African Queen with Andrew Heenan and George Johnstone won the Corinthian Division.

In addition to the amazing organisation from the Southport Yacht Club, the regatta couldn't have been held without the support of sponsors HillPDA, North Sails, Bosun's Locker, Harken, Whale Spars and PM Sails.

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