Etchells Nationals: Bertrand secures his seventh title

Published on November 15th, 2013

(November 15, 2013) – The Triad team of John Bertrand, Andrew Palfrey and Grant Simmer have successfully secured the 2013 Australian title with one race to go.

Bertrand’s scorecard was impressive, but not unique. Across five other teams – Peter McNeill’s Iris III, Cameron Miles’s The Hole Way, David Clark’s Fifteen and Noel Drennan’s Boat X – each had good and poor results, like Bertrand. The difference was that Bertrand kept his eye on the prize, held his own under pressure, placed no worse than fourth in Race 6 in the series and had a superb crew.

“Sailing with Andrew Palfrey and Grant Simmer, for me, it’s just a dream. Those two guys are just so good, combining with myself. So little is said on the boat, or needs to be said. At one stage, in race two of today, the spinnaker halyard came undone, so the spinnaker was flying out and were about to run over it. Not one word was said. They just got the shute back up. It just kissed the water. We didn’t even discuss it. To sail with a team like that, where it is a little bit like an orchestra, where it just all happens and happens together, to me that is the essence of team work. I love that element of sailing,” Bertrand.

Bertrand was also effusive about the other competitors. ”The level of racing was so close. From my perspective, it was spectacular. We are talking about boat length and half boat length between one, two, three, four and five at the top mark and for a lot of cases at the bottom mark as well. The quality and finesse of the way in which these boats were being sailed this regatta was very, very impressive,” Bertrand said.

The Triad team will now sit on the sidelines and watch with interest the battle for second and third place which is between two previous Etchells class World Champions, McNeill and Miles.

Today was Miles’s turn to shine as he shook off the spectre of an OCS in Race 3 and pushed his way through the start line and around the course on a stunning sailing day with a steady eight to 10 knots.

“We have been wanting not to be back on the line. We have been working hard on our transits. I think we have been pretty comfortable with all of our starts except that one (Race 3).

“We are going really well upwind and we are just smoking downwind, like really going well. We just have to keep that up,” Miles said. This team won the race just four seconds ahead of McNeill. In third place was Drennan, just eight seconds behind again. Bertrand was fourth in this race, his worst result for the regatta.

The second race today was when the nerves really started to show. The first start was a general recall. The second then got away cleanly in 10, gusting to 15 knots.

Bertrand covered Miles on the work to the finish, engaging Miles in a ferocious tacking duel to protect his 20-second lead. “We had a chance to beat John. We should have gybed inside him. He was 15 boat lengths in front of us at the top mark and by three-quarters of the way down we were about a boat length behind him and on a wave. We should have gybed inside him and gone around the other mark, but we sort of didn’t do it,” Miles said.

Bertrand slam-dunked the fleet finishing in first place. Miles slipped into second place 14 seconds later. In third place was a great result for the Bootross team of Mark Bradford, Anthony Nossiter and Will McCarthy.

However, for McNeill who went into this race holding second place overall, he came out of it seventh. “We went pretty well in the first race. That’s when we thought we sailed really well. There was nothing in it right to the finish with Milsey. He happened to surf the last wave in and got past us.

“In the second race we got a pretty good start, but we didn’t have the jump and we had a couple of technical issues at the top mark which didn’t allow us to have a very good kite set. I won’t go into too much detail about that. We didn’t get the first set right and the other guys got away from us,” McNeill said.

The top six overall results, after seven races and one drop, are Bertrand on 10 points, McNeill on 17, Miles on 20, Clark on equal 26 with Drennan, and Matthew Chew’s Gen XY on 27 points.

There is one race left to be run to complete the series. While the first place is decided, second and third places are up for grabs between McNeill and Miles.

“Tomorrow we just have to sail well,” Miles said. He chuckled at the suggestion that this evening’s distraction of a quick flight to Sydney for the night and a wedding would make a difference tomorrow. “We have just got to get on the line again with a bit of speed, make sure we aren’t over and get some clear air so we can give ourselves a chance to win the race.

“I don’t think there is anything aggressive we can do with Peter (McNeill) as he is three points in front of us and we have a lot worse drop than he has. We just hope he gets bashed up a bit by someone else,” Miles said.

McNeill is taking quite a different approach to tomorrow. “We’re just going to match race him off the course and then celebrate. We’ve worked out he has to finish third or better to beat us. There is still a chance. It’s not over yet,” McNeill said.

The final day of racing starts Saturday at about 1100 hours.

For full results, go http://www.southportyachtclub.com.au/page122.html

For more event information, go http://www.southportyachtclub.com.au/page115.html

Tracey Johnstone reporting

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