Bring some of the fleet down as the breeze climbs into the high teen - Photo Courtesy: John Curnow
Bring some of the fleet down as the breeze climbs into the high teen - Photo Courtesy: John Curnow

2016 Etchells Australian Championship

No regatta in recent times has shown us more that sailing is indeed a sport for life. There were those under 20 years of age and those, well, let’s just leave it as in and around seven decades on the planet. Naturally, every other bracket was also heavily represented in the 48-boat fleet.

So the 2016 Etchells Australian Championship from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club not only showcased the country’s best sailors, it also brought out a huge collection of the greatest young guns. Some were known for their exploits on cats and other foilers, but all were there to interact with the best in level playing fields. Tin sticks, symmetrical bags and all…. As Andrew Palfrey said, “…the boats themselves may not be the coolest going around, but the competition sure is!”

Probably very unfairly, but well and truly in jest, one class stalwart was heard to say, “Get that table some jugs of red cordial!” Yes, nothing could have been taken as more of compliment, was how the very accomplished Matt Chew saw it. Apart from himself, there was the new owner and crew from, Fair Dinkum, another Brisbane Fleet boat. Grant Hudson, Ben Vercoe, Klaus Lorenz and Matt Parrott make up that crew. They also finished just two places behind Chew’s GenXY…

Also seated at that table was Chew’s own ‘replacement’ crew. With the regulars out due to work commitments, brothers Alex and Andrew Gough, along with Evan Walker jumped on board. Chew said, “I was the oldest member on the boat. I did feel really old as the only Gen Y, for they’re all Xs! It was certainly great to be amongst the best in Australia after having recently been involved with the Moths and also the Extreme Sailing Series. It was really good to sail with such great young guys and we may even get the team back for NSW States on Lake Macquarie…”

Two years ago the Gough boys grabbed a boat for the Etchells Queensland State Championship. They heralded that moment with enough wins to be atop the leader board early on. Alex is just about to complete his apprenticeship with Mark Bradford at North Sails Brisbane, so no doubt he is guaranteed to remain part of the class.

Having mentioned some of the younglings there will no doubt be many missed. However, Seve Jarvin, Sean O’Rourke, Jay Griffin, Henry Kernot, Jack Dawson and Rob Scrivenor are also noted at this juncture. Having young sailors like Jake Newman on board Triad, who were second, O’Rourke on Fifteen+ (third place), then Gen XY in fifth and Fair Dinkum in seventh place and the rest throughout the results.

Anyway, a typically vast array of Port Phillip conditions greeted the crews. You had the blast furnace early on and then for the last day it was more like the blast chiller (for all the foodies out there). Even being becalmed and blown out did not perturb the smiles. Some appreciated the forced layoffs to get some maintenance done and rest weary bones.

Many thanks go to race management and all the volunteers and staff of the host, Royal Brighton Yacht Club. Their tireless work was commented on by all, whether on the quay, at presentation, or around the clubhouse.

At the event, sailors benefitted from terrific daily and overall prizes, courtesy of Gill and Harken. Some of the categories were very unique too. North Sails provided a brand new headsail, and the recipient almost missed it. Richie Allanson’s hand was in the tin for another bow number as Jake Gunther realised his was the lucky bow number. Phew!

Talking of winners there was Magpie (Graeme Taylor, James Mayo and Richie Allanson) in first place. Taking out both Masters and Grand Masters was Triad, which is crewed by John Bertrand, Billy Browne and Jake Newman. First female helmer (owner/driver) was Jeanne-Claude Strong. Nev Wittey, Marcus Burke and Tiana Wittey are the crew on board Yandoo XX. Corinthian (all-amateur) went to Steve Billingham, Kevin Nixon and William Lewis on the perfectly-named-for-this-article, Adolescence.

Distress Rate Media, Entire, Graphic Effects, GFS Electrical, Gunther Developments, Protecon Solutions, and and Sailor Sunscreen complete the sponsors’ roll. To check out all things Etchells, please visit and start clicking away, which will be no problem at all for the younger set inside the fleet! There is also a lot of material on the Etchells Australia YouTube channel, so please have a look at that too


Courtesy: John Curnow

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