Day 1 report by Ian Kingsford Smith

Day 1, 15 January 2021 by Ian Kingsford Smith

The wind forecast for the day, in which three races were scheduled, was not encouraging for the race management team headed by Race Officer, Rob Ridley. The forecast was for light variable breezes of 5 knots or less from the south and east with nothing really consistent in strength or direction due until mid-afternoon. Nevertheless, Rob and his team left the dock about midday for a scheduled 1330hrs warning signal and shortly after arriving off Clarke Island, a promising 6-8 knot east-north-easterly developed.

A fleet of 31 Etchells had entered the championship arranged by the Sydney Etchells Fleet to replace the Australian Championship which had been cancelled due to the lockdowns and restrictions due to the Covid pandemic. Boats from the Gosford, Lake Macquarie and Pittwater fleets added to the large contingent of Sydney fleet Etchells. It was also encouraging for the future of the class to see a number of youth teams competing.

A starting line was laid off Clarke Island with the windward marks off Steele Point. Race 1 was started with a course axis of 055 degrees on schedule at 1330hrs, and the full fleet of 31 Etchells got away cleanly in the first start in an 8-10 knot ENE breeze. Jeanne-Claude Strong sailing Flying High won the first heat comfortably from Colin Beashel in Havoc and James Mayo in Magpie.

The same course was set for Race 2 except that the wind had increased to 10-12 knots. In the last seconds before the start, Rob Ridley signalled a late postponement due to a sudden wind shift. The restart of the race resulted in a general recall, and at the third attempt, the fleet eventually got away cleanly under a black flag. Jeanne-Claude Strong and Colin Beashel repeated their first race placings with firsts and seconds respectively, while Peter Merrington and Steve Jarvin in First Tracks took third place.

The wind had moved a little further left for Race 3 and had also strengthened and the course axis was swung to 040 degrees. There were a couple of minor delays to the start, firstly to allow an outbound Manly ferry to clear the course and then a wind shift. The race finally started in 15 knots and the youth team of Matthew Stenta sailing Community Transmission won from Peter Gardner in Vincero and Mark Bradford in Pie.

At the end of the first day’s racing, Colin Beashel leads the series on 9 pts, from Jeanne-Claude Strong on 11 pts and James Mayo on 14 pts. Three races are scheduled on Saturday and a further three on Sunday.

View full results from Day 1 here

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