The Swan River Etchells fleet is enjoying one of its best seasons for some time as skippers prepare for the Prochoice Safety Gear Etchell National Championship at Fremantle in January 2013.
It’s always great to see yachts that have been mothballed for some time returning to the race track, and with them of course, come some crews that have not competed in the class for a while.
Fremantle has played host to the Etchells class many times, and is a favourite regatta site because of its reliable breezes. The “Fremantle Doctor” generally kicks in around noon, bringing fresh south westerly conditions and cooling air off the ocean. The “Doctor” can make for challenging racing, pushing yachts and crews to the limit.
Regatta headquarters at the Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Fremantle Annex, a secure harbour facility, has direct ocean access. Royal Perth will join with Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club to host the Nationals. Both these WA clubs have extensive experience in managing high profile events and are blessed with a healthy number of nationally accredited race officials. Indeed, one of the lasting benefits of the ISAF World Championships held in the same waters last year, is the depth of highly competent race officials now resident in Perth.
The spin-off for competitors is the certainty of a well organised, well run event with minimal hassles.
On the local scene in Perth, the so-called Swan River fleet is in reality a combination of Etchells from the two royal clubs. All that might soon change however, now that the South of Perth Yacht Club has commissioned its outstanding new hard standing facility, serviced by a battery of three cranes. The club has one of the busiest flying fifteen fleets in Australia and it would be a logical progression to see some of these sailors moving up to the larger Etchells class.
For East Coast visitors, this may well present an opportunity to sell up before heading home, avoiding the need to tow the boat back home across the Nullarbor!
Entries are starting to trickle in, with former World Champion John Bertrand already having committed to compete, along with his old America’s Cup team mate Skip Lissiman, who has been enjoying some strong results in the West. Crewing with Bertrand is the only Australian to have won the America’s Cup three times, Grant Simmer. The brilliant Simmer was tactician on Australia II (1983) and general manager of Alinghi (2003 & 2007). He is currently the general manager of Oracle, the Defenders of the America’s Cup.
It would greatly assist organisers if intending entrants would submit their entries as soon as possible.
For further information, visit the Etchells website at www.etchells.org.au/nationals