Etchells Nationals: Final day protest ensured tension until the last
Published on November 16th, 2013
(November 16, 2013) – The final day of racing in the Etchells Australian Championship being held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, was all about which previous Etchells World Champion was going to secure second overall and who would have to settle for third place.
The protagonists were 2004 World Champion Peter McNeil and 1999 World Champion Cameron Miles.
The final race of the eight-race series was highly competitive with the finish times close and Cameron Miles’s The Hole Way team taking line honours. This result did not affect the position of overall winner with John Bertrand’s Triad team taking out this honour, with a race to spare, at the completion of yesterday’s racing. However, the final two podium places had to be decided in the Protest Room.
The result of the protest moved Miles up into second overall with 21 points and moved McNeill down into third overall with 24 points.
After a delayed start as the wind swung from 140 to 060 degrees, the breeze finally settled into a steady 11 to 12 knots and the fleet were away cleanly.
The PRO, Kevin Wilson, reported that there was only one race for the whole eight races that was not a Blue Peter. “They behaved themselves extremely well,” Wilson said.
Cameron Miles and his The Hole Way team of David Sampson and Grant Crowle took command of the race early and led the fleet to the finish line. Behind him there was a tight, aggressive group. At the head of this pack was Mark Bradford’s Bootross who had been slowly working his way up the pointscore over the last seven races. He crossed the finish line 32 seconds after Miles.
Next came Noel Drennan’s Boat X, Matthew Chew’s Gen XY, Peter McNeill’s Iris III and John Warlow’s XXXX XXXXXXX. At the top mark for the last rounding that was the line-up and lots of close calls.
By the time that group were heading to the finish line the noise had increased considerably with yelling and screaming of ‘protest !’ from within the leading group. Miles was across first, Bradford was second, McNeill had moved up to third on the back of a wave and Chew was recorded in fourth over the line.
Miles explained his team had a great day sailing, leading the fleet start to finish. “Several times throughout the race we thought Peter (McNeill) has got himself back in a position where we could move up to second place overall, but I think Matt Chew and Nitro (Noel Drennan) were hammering each other a bit up the last beat and that sort of allowed Peter to slip through a little bit.
“Then he had an infringement with John Warlow and John did some turns which allowed Peter to get through into third. Then I think there were a couple of incidents down the run with Matt Chew and Polly (Peter McNeill),” Miles said.
Back on shore it was straight to the Protest Room. Chew claimed a breach of Rule 11, with McNeill while surfing downwind to the finish, overtaking Chew and making contact between Gen XY’s spinnaker pole and Iris III’s boom. Chew claimed they had luffing rights, but didn’t alter course. Meanwhile McNeill’s protest claimed a breach of rules 18.2 and 18.4, and that at the three-boat length point Iris III, Gen XY and Boat X were abreast of each other on starboard gybe. McNeill claimed Iris III called for room and sailed their course, but Gen XY didn’t attempt get out of the way of Iris III including when Iris III gybed at the mark.
The outcome of the protest was decided in favour of Chew with the facts found that McNeill was windward boat and failed to keep clear under rules 11 and 14. McNeill was disqualified from Race 8 and this result became his drop.
With Bertrand the winner, Miles confirmed in second and McNeill in third, it was a count back for fourth place. Matthew Chew’s Gen XY came out ahead of Noel Drennan’s Boat X.
The national president, Jake Gunther, had the last word to say as he sung the praises of Southport Yacht Club, the event organisers and of the venue. “It’s a sensational race track. I must admit that we had some concerns about the weather and consequently put the event on at this time of year rather than in the traditional January. It’s proved to be a real winner. We got consistent sea breezes coming in virtually every day.
“We had great racing every day. The facilities are just sensational and the Gold Coast is a very impressive place to run events from. I am hoping we can get the fleet back here at some stage in the near future and make a bit of an event of it because it’s certainly a nice spot to be. The on water management was superb and we thankful to the sponsors and everybody else involved. My suggestion of course is that they should be putting in a World’s bit.”
For more event information and photos, go http://www.southportyachtclub.com.au/page115.html
Tracey Johnstone reporting