Written by Nic Douglass
Photography by Glen Hickey
27 February 2023
The Etchells 2023 NSW Championship supported by the Bendigo Bank and hosted by Gosford Sailing Club had no racing on the final day due to a lack of consistent breeze.
The results from the end of day two therefore stand, and Peter “Billy” Merrington, and his team of Ian McKillop and Grant Simmer on AUS1485 First Tracks, are the Etchells 2023 NSW Champions.
“The Race Officer, he gave it a red hot go to try to get a race away, unfortunately the conditions just didn’t play ball. There was a westerly drainage breeze so the sea breeze just didn’t get to us, part and parcel of the inland waterways such as Brisbane Waters,” said Merrington of the final day of racing.
AP was originally hoisted over 1 at 9:35, and was removed at 11:55, with a standalone AP hoisted at 12:00. The Race Committee did their best to get racing away, but it wasn’t meant to be with a final call made just after 2:30pm that there would be no racing.
“Both my guys sailed amazingly all weekend,” Merrington commented. “It’s quite a pleasure to sail with Grant Simmer; he is calm, he is calculating, he has seen it all before.
“The pearls of wisdom that he brings, both in racing and over the last couple of weeks in training have given us a new perspective.
“Ian McKillop, he really is the brains of our operation, and we are extremely privileged to have him on board. We have sailed together for at least nine years, so it’s a pretty good partnership. But yes, he might be the youngest but he is definitely the brains.
“One thing I want to say is that we need to give full credit to the Gosford Sailing Club, they have given a bit of a clinic on how to run a regatta well. The volunteers were amazing, from helping us to load our boats in, to measurement and registrations, to the really great social calendar which was planned, which kept everyone together as a unit for the regatta.
“When we were packing up today, the same people were there to help us pack the boats away and there was even a trolley filled with ice and beers, the competitors really appreciated that.
“Gosford Sailing Club have won the championship of how to run a regatta” finished Merrington, as he headed off to enjoy the win with his fellow Etchells sailors.
99 competitors were made up of twelve women, two of which are female skippers. The average skipper age was 60, which meant that the Masters Division was exceptionally hard fought for. The average crew age was 58.
The oldest competitor was 76, with six competitors over 70. The youngest competitor was 17, with four sailors, twenty and under. There were sixteen Corinthian crews, 16 masters skippers, and 11 grand master crews.
1st – First Tracks – Peter Merrington, Ian McKillop & Grant Simmer
2nd – Magpie – Graeme Taylor, James Mayo & Richie Allanson
3rd – Flying High – Jeanne-Claude Strong, Seve Jarvin & Sam Newton
Flying High – Jeanne-Claude Strong, Seve Jarvin & Sam Newton (3rd overall)
Pointless – John McDougall, Peter Rivers and Andrew Heenan (5th overall)
Ciao – Doug McGain, Mark Dagworthy and Michael O’Brian (4th overall)
This regatta would not be possible without the sponsors, Bendigo Bank the sole Gold Sponsor, and our Silver Sponsors, North Sails who have supplied a new jib as the mid fleet prize, Whale Spars with a new Etchells Boom, Peter McNeill Sails who have supplied vouchers, Burke Racing with Competitor Caps, DeckHardware have donated a Main Sheet, Jib Sheets, and Spinnaker Sheets, AMBIDA provided the Bow Numbers, Harken sponsored the regatta with a Megapro 15-in-1 Multi Bit Screwdriver and CUB the all important dockside beers on return to the marina after racing.
The club and regatta are also supporting Sailability Gosford.
In addition to the on water sponsorship and support, thanks to Heidi Tai Chi for the warm up on Saturday, and Stretch Lab in Terrigal & Newcastle for the stretching today before the final day of racing.
Thanks once again to all of the volunteers who worked behind the scenes to make the regatta happen, from Gosford Sailing Club as well as the Etchells Committee.
Next up will be the Etchells 2023 Victorian Championship out of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club from 11 to 13 March 2023.