Royal Cork Yacht Club ex-pat Jamie McWilliam has finished ninth overall, just one place behind America's Cup legend John Bertrand at the 2020 Etchells Victoria Championships in Australia.
Big boat sailor McWilliam, a regular visitor to Ireland in his Ker 40 Signal 8 last competed here at Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July 2019.
Once a thriving one design in Ireland, especially at Howth, where the 2010 World Championships was staged, the Irish Etchells fleet has since died away.
The reigning Etchells World Champions, Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Richie Allanson secured the 2020 Victorian title with a race to spare. After placing second and sixth in the first two races of the day, they headed back to the Royal Brighton Yacht Club to put Havoc back on her trailer for the journey to Sydney.
Finishing in second place overall was Magpie, which is crewed by Graeme Taylor, James Mayo, and Tom Slingsby. They were three points astern of the leaders in the end, whose worst result for the regatta was a sixth place. Interestingly, Magpie's worst was a fourth, it is just that they did not have the string of bullets (firsts) to match Havoc. Chris Hampton, Charlie Cumbley, and Jamie Lea on Tango finished in third place, some nine points further back. Cumbley and Lea also travelled the farthest to be part of it all, from the UK, with others coming from Thailand, and the East Coast of Australia to be part of this vibrant class.
John Bertrand had his new Triad 2020 out racing with Grant Crowle in for Noel Drennan, and Jake Lilley on the bow. They secured two individual race wins, including the last of the nice race series, to finish in eighth place overall, which shows you just how tough it is at this end of the fleet. "Long time in between drinks in this fleet at the moment", was how Bertrand put it. "It is also a good thing too."
"It is all building up to the World Championship in Fremantle, it is clear that the fleet is getting very focussed. Magpie just returned from winning the Mid-Winters in Miami, and then they're second here in this extremely intense racing. It all shows the calibre of the fleet here in Australia. The class is healthy and the top One Design tactical racing in the country. It is just incredible to be involved and the sailors and sailing is impressive, particularly the young people coming through, and it is terrific for our sport on the whole."
Reflecting on the new shorter race format, PRO Ross Wilson said, "I was a little bit concerned when we discussed with the organisers a few weeks ago, as to whether it would work. However, the feedback has been really positive. We targeted 45 minutes, and had all the races fall between 41 and 50, with the majority at 45 to 46. I am not sure if it would work with fleets over 35 boats, as you need to compensate for the longer start line, but this was brilliant for our fleet of 25 here."
Final top ten
1. Iain Murray / Richard Allanson / Colin Beashel, 19 points
2. Graeme Taylor / James Mayo / Tom Slingsby, 22
3. Chris Hampton / Charlie Cumbley / Jamie Lea, 31
4. Mark Thornburrow / Alexander Conway / Mike Huang / Malcolm Page, 38
5. David Clark / Raymond Smith / Ben O'Brien, 44
6. Kirwan Robb / Rodney Muller / Brett Taylor, 46
7. Jeanne-Claude Strong / Kate Devereux / Seve Jarvin / Troy Tindal, 48
8. John Bertrand / Jake Lilley / Grant Crowle, 51
9. Jamie Mcwilliam / Willy Roberts / Gray Gibson, 73
10. Damien King / Jeremy O'Connell / Eliza Solly / Tom Klemens, 79