Fresh talent

Youth shines on the final day of the Garmin 2019 Etchells NSW State Championship.

Photography by Alex McKinnon

19 February 2019


The Garmin 2019 Etchells NSW State Championship was memorable for the way the youth sailors turned it on.

For in the very last race of the series, William Dargaville, Sarah Parker, Jess Angus, and Josh Marks from the Royal Prince Alfred YC finished in front of the reigning World Champions.

After a bit of time waiting around on Brisbane Waters, the Nor’easter kicked in after 2pm at 6 knots closing out at ten. This was more than enough to get two races in and return back to windward. The 28-boat fleet revelled in it. The 29th entry was back ashore. Havoc did not need to race, as they had done so well in the preceding two days, so elected instead to become part of the spectator fleet instead.

Flirtation, sailed by Matt Crawford, brother Robert Crawford, Lucy Shephard, and Karl Bromfield, finished in fifth place overall, which was a direct result of a consistent set of top ten results.

Matt Crawford would comment quayside, “It was a good regatta, and it all went well. We are pretty stoked right now, considering we have only been in the boat for about 18 months now. We have been sailing 470s with Lucy and Karl for ages before that. So our plan is all about the impending World Championship in Perth. We got into it as it is an affordable class for us to race competitively with boats from other countries.”


“We are quite surprised to be honest; we did not think we could be this high up so soon. It is definitely something we will continue to work on. We were in the Victor (Kovalenko) programme with Will and Mat for some time, then took a break from sailing, but missed it all too much. The competition angle was key, and Etchells was the only way to go, as it is pure One Design, close and tough racing.”

Yet the whole youth angle did not finish there, for at just 15 years of age, and skippering for the very first time, Danny Brascher from Gosford, with crew Brian Robinson, and Amelia Clough, had a standout event on Greenback.

“I started out as a foredeckie on keelboat, and did a few regattas up at Port Stephens. Around 18 months ago, one of the other crewmembers from that boat asked me to come and be crew on Greenback, and something like two months ago, I started skippering.

“It is great fun and there really is a lot to learn, especially from everyone who is around here now. They are all so knowledgeable, and a big thanks to them all for their help and guidance. This is my first regatta steering, and it is very intense, all the starts are just amazing, even when you do not do so well, and I am certainly going to stay in the class.”

Havoc won the event, with Colin Beashel helming, and Richie Allanson and Henry Kernot as crew.

He’s now added the NSW title once more, so what are his plans? “Just try to keep enjoying everything I’m doing. We’ll see what rolls along from here. Obviously it’s been a good regatta, and it all went well for us, but t is a great boat, and the guys are wonderful. It all seemed to click at the right time, and when you are on roll, you’re on a bit of a roll… Retirement is not happening, but I have no idea what’s next. The Big Fella (Murray) will be back, so we’ll see what he takes on from here, so watch this space.”

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