The Australian Etchells fleet is edging towards a world championship in Brisbane and the NSW title regatta on Sydney Harbour this weekend is an important opportunity for those crews with a worlds challenge brewing to test their mettle against some of the class’ best.
Four Queensland entries plus one each from Victoria and Western Australia are making the journey to join the majority NSW contingent in the three-day regatta, February 16-18, hosted by the Sydney Etchells fleet out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
A strong fleet of 41 Etchells will commence their NSW title contest on Friday, among them many former national champions and a number of world-beaters, in the popular one design class that’s been around since the 1960s and according to Queenslander Matt Chew “has always been cool”.
Representing The RPAYC Pitwater Fleet is: Seawings, Tom Brewer; Fliration, Matt Crawford; Whisper II, Bruce Ferguson; 2107 Racing, Jason Antil; Pam, Will Dargaville; Whisper, Malcolm Parker.
For Gen XY skipper Chew and his crew Ashley Deeks, Ben Vercoe and Brian Donovan, the NSW title marks the start of their run towards a home world championship at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in October.
“We have kept training pretty low key and now we are doing the NSW event and then the Victorian championship. We are ramping up and planning to peak at the end. We’ll see; we are trying to time our run to the worlds,” Chew said.
On the cool factor he reckons: “Etchells have always been cool. I sail all the foiling boats but there’s something about coming back to an Etchells that levels the field. In other classes it’s about athleticism but with Etchells it’s who picks the wind. It’s very pure and simple; I think that’s why a lot of pro sailors come back to the class, to measure themselves against their peers.”