Matt Chew shoots bullets to lead Etchells Australian Nationals

Published on January 15th, 2015

Adelaide, Australia (January 15, 2015) – The 34 teams at the Musto 2015 Etchells Australian Championship found conditions on the waters of the Gulf of St Vincent suitable for two races. It was all positive for the GenXY team of Matt Chew, Ash Deeks, Brian Donovan and Bill Cuneo which won them both, advancing them to the top of the standings on the penultimate day.

“Yeah, look it was a very good day,” Chew said. “We did have a chat after yesterday’s racing and made some improvements, which all look to have paid off! We made some adjustments to the boat set up and starting strategy. We started at boat end and went left (hand side of the track as you point uphill to the windward mark) both times. Left seems to offer some handy gems to pluck out, so we had long tacks and worked on the boat speed all the way to the windward mark.”

Chew went on to say, “It was a bit flatter out there today and we were the first to the top mark, but we weren’t so good downhill, where we’d drop one or two spots and then make it back up on the next work. So, yes, tonight’s chat is all about downhill speed. We are fired up. We aim to win the first race and see if we can get this title.”

If it comes to pass it will be Chew’s first Australian title as Skipper (the crew have two mid-winter ones already) and he did win an Etchells Australian Championship back in the day with Jason Muir, Darren Jones and Paul Wyatt. Asked if it serves as motivation, Chew just says, “Oh yeah! We came here to win so if it comes to pass then we’re happy.”

Baby Doll is another crew to be in the mix for title. Noel Drennan, Richie Allanson and Andrew Gavenlock are all part of the greater North Sails organisation and do know the pointy end from the blunt. Drennan, who is also known as ‘Nitro’, commented of yesterday’s unfortunate Black Flag, “No. It wasn’t ideal. There is time for two more races and anything can happen from here. The longer term goal is Hong Kong (2015 Etchells World Championship) and it is similar in terms of seaway, but thus far the Adelaide sea breeze has been a touch absent at times and shifty too.”

“The last one yesterday (Race Four) was a superb Etchells race – the best I’ve had in while. It has closed up as it gets to the end of the regatta, which is normal. It will be interesting if we get both races in and at any rate light airs (as is predicted early in the piece) is always interesting.”

You can tell that the team have been enjoying their work, but it is also work in a sense. Drennan commented, “We have a new, Version Six Radial Mainsail and our FLR headsail have been working particularly well here. The latter is a North Sails Australia Work in Progress on its way to market… It has shown great merit and been going along well with the top ten of the fleet. It’s a medium headsail and it has a big place in the market, as it’s a good alternative. Prior to this it has done well on Sydney Harbour and we have used in 60-70% of the races here. The FLR has gone well in the chop of the Gulf of St Vincent as opposed to flatter waters of Sydney Harbour where Michael Coxon and Richie have been testing it a lot.”

Keen observers may note that with the impending Milson Goblets and then the 2015 NSW State Championships to both be sailed on those very same and so well known waters.

Another New South Welsh crew, albeit that they hail from Pittwater, just North of Sydney, is ‘The Hole Way’, with Cameron Miles, David Sampson and Grant Crowle on board. “Yes, it was a good one. We probably could have done some more in the first race of the day and led for most of the second, before GenXY got up for a close win. All in all it has been terrific racing all week in good breezes, even if the seaway was a bit lumpy, but we actually love that – BTB – bumpier the better!”

Referring to being just the one point astern of GenXY for the night, Miles said, “We’ll do our thing tomorrow and sail as best we can. Don’t think they can sail us of the course for that first race, so it’s a case of more races the better for us. Yes, we probably have improved as the regatta has gone on – we’re a slow starter. Really proud of David and Grant – they’ve been picking great shifts and the crew work has been simply immaculate. We are ready to pounce.”

Miles finished by saying, “Yes – carb loading tonight with spaghetti Bolognese with a couple of sherbets to adjust the attitude and ensure we are all set to go. The Race Committee are doing a great job, the club is warm and inviting with terrific hospitality and this is a great place to sail – happy days!”

Principal Race Officer, Stewart Ross, commented on the day, “Two more races in the bag is always a great result. For Race Five today we set Course#2, which finishes off the breeze. Range was 1.4nm on an axis of 220˚ and in a 10-18 knot breeze. Wind was still pushing against tide, which gave us a 1-1.5m seaway, but it was nothing like the last little while. We had two starts again, the first under ‘P’, which went to General Recall, so we went straight to the Black Flag and all was fine for the re-start.”

“Race Six was set for Course#1, where they finish at the upwind mark after two full laps. It too was out on a range of 1.4nm, but the axis was now 210˚ and apart from the direction, the breeze was effectively the same. Once again it was a two-start affair. The first was on ‘P’ and then we went straight to the black. Very interesting on the black start, for the closest to that start was at least two boat lengths behind the line! Another good race and a close one at that, with less than a boat length between them at the end. No course changes, so all were happy. Well done to my team of volunteers for a great result out the water.”

When asked to call the ball on the weather, Ross said, “It looks mushy with 5-10 knots from the North in the morning, but all indications are of a nice Sou’wester in the afternoon, from say 1300hrs with a last warning at 1600hrs.” So perhaps then it will be Hughie (the God of Wind) who gets to have the last word on this Championship, but when is that any different?

Adelaide Etchells Fleet Captain, Andrew Waterman is eager for one more good day. “We’ll aim for two more tomorrow and thus far we have a great series for not only the sailors, but also the club and our sponsor, Musto. Really awesome conditions have prevailed. Just look at today. We had misty rain that totally left for sunny skies, 24˚C and 15 knots from 210˚. There are no more tides to consider and so I think it will be all hard work for the crews and they’ll need to apply themselves tomorrow to get the desired result.”

Racing concludes on January 16.

AUS class websiteNationals websiteComplete results

Report and photos by John Curnow.

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