North Sails LOFT NEWS
Story Contributors: Noel Drennan
READY FOR THE ETCHELLS WORLDS
Successful Australian Season Comes to an End
North Sails Etchells designs dominated four Australian events leading up to the 2020 Worlds in Fremantle in November: the state championships for Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, and the Australian Nationals.
Graeme Taylor helped the team onboard Magpie claim the National title and then went on to win the New South Wales Championship on Lake Macquarie where North boats claimed the top four finishing positions.
Another very strong fleet turned out for the Victorian States, and this time it was Iain Murray’s Havoc that took the win with a race to spare. Despite extremely shifty, offshore, easterly winds, no other boat came close to their consistency; Murray and his crew won all three races.
Both teams used the same designs that won last year’s Worlds in Corpus Christi, Texas: PC-FM Mainsail, MAL and GT jibs, and FR-2 spinnaker. A more recent introduction is the VMG-3 down-range spinnaker.
Asked what makes North designs so quick, Etchells class expert Noel Drennan replies, “Our Etchells sails benefit from old-school style tuning and are designed by people with an experienced eye. The MAL and GT headsails were developed from long-standing North designs, using straight-line sail testing; if it’s not faster, try something different.’’
“Our Etchells sails benefit from old-school style tuning and are designed by people with an experienced eye. The MAL and GT headsails were developed from long-standing North designs, using straight-line sail testing; if it’s not faster, try something different.’’
Taylor and Murray two-boat-tune together before each regatta, which helped Murray win the 2019 Worlds. Drennan says that this team approach is being replicated by several other Australian Etchells teams. “With many teams now armed with both the PCFM/MAL/GT jibs and a full understanding of the tuning, we are seeing very strong performances from people like John Bertrand, JC Strong, Chris Hampton, David Clark, and Mark Thornborrow.’’
2020 Worlds Local Knowledge
Drennan knows Fremantle well. “In a normal sea breeze day with two races, I would expect the first race to be approximately 10-14 knots and the second 14-18 knots, probably building after racing has finished. That being said, the Swan River fleet had a training camp in November 2019, and the entire week was light air.”
“There is a high likelihood of sailing in fantastic upper-range, sea breeze conditions. The local fleet is very much behind the regatta, and it will be a fantastic championship.’’
“Tactically, in a normal sea breeze race, a good start with the ability to stay on starboard tack for at least four to six minutes will probably be rewarded,’’ he continues. “If the wind comes off of the land instead, it will be a case of looking upwind and using what you see, knowing that every course option is open. In this breeze, there will be many opportunities for teams that have slipped behind to recover, making for some exciting racing.’’
Leading up to the Worlds, the Swan River Fleet has mini-regattas planned monthly through the winter at the racing venue. The Syd Corser Regatta in October is a very prestigious Etchells event which is likely to have a strong turnout, and the Australian Championship is planned for mid-November.
“Freemantle is one of the epic sailing venues of the world,” Drennan says, “with a history of hosting racing for America’s Cup and Olympic classes, as well as Etchells, Dragon, and Soling Worlds. There is a high likelihood of sailing in fantastic upper-range, sea breeze conditions. The local fleet is very much behind the regatta, and it will be a fantastic championship.’’