Coffs Yacht Club hosts its first International Etchells championship

The ‘African Queen’ with a pink spinnaker at Mooloolaba. Coffs Harbour sailor Pierre Gal will be joining the crew in Coffs. Photo: Sailor Girl.

THE inaugural International Etchells 2023 Coffs Harbour Championship is being hosted by Coffs Harbour Yacht Club on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 June.

With two prestigious Etchells World Championship events taking place in Australia in 2024, the Coffs championship is one of several lead-up regattas taking place along the East Coast this year.

The events provide invaluable experience for teams looking towards the World Championship.

Championships have been hosted in Gosford, Southport, Mooloolaba and now it is Coffs Harbour’s turn to shine the spotlight on Etchells racing.

Less than 24 hours after winning the International Etchells Australasians at Mooloolaba, ‘Magpie’ was the first boat to arrive at Coffs Harbour Yacht Club on Monday 12 June in readiness for the Etchells Championship.

Skippered by Graeme Taylor, and owned by James Mayo, Magpie has won her last two events.

“We’re hoping to make it three in a row,” announced team member Richie Allanson.

With esteemed sailor Colin Beashell (America’s Cup mainsheet trimmer when Australia II won in 1983) skippering in Coffs, ‘Magpie’ stands a good chance of taking out the hattrick according to the racing fraternity.

Jeanne-Claude Strong with ‘Flying High’ was next to arrive, and with her crew of Seve Jarvin and Australia Sail GP team sailor, Sam Newton.

Jeanne-Claude is hoping to improve on her third place at Mooloolaba.

Coffs Harbour Yacht Club welcomed ‘African Queen’ next, owned by race organiser Jan Munysken.

Jan will be racing in Coffs with renowned laser and offshore sailor, fellow Dutchman Jan Scholten and local favourite, Frenchman Pierre Gal.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of racing against so many Olympian sailors,” said Pierre Gal.

Secretary of the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club Sailing Committee and Etchells Co-chairperson, Moyra Mendham told News Of The Area, “This event is a fantastic opportunity to see some first-rate sailing and we can’t wait.

“Probably 70 percent of the sailors are professional, and include Olympians, World Champions, America’s Cup winners, Sail GP winners, you name them; it’s a really big thing.”

As the boats arrived in Coffs Harbour last week, they attracted a great deal of attention from locals, with visitors to the Club asking, “How do you get those things out of the water?”.

Local members were keen to joke, “Takes ten of us and a trolley to lift it.”

Boats have been stored at the GC Boatyards, being brought out at 13:00 hours on Friday 23 June, when they will be lifted into the water by a Coffs City Crane.

Members will then tow the boats into their marina berths.

“CHYC is indebted to our supporters, GC Boatyards, Coffs Harbour International Marina, Coffs City Cranes and Hill PDA Consulting,” CHYC Commodore John Wait told NOTA.

“Without their support this Championship would not be possible.”

All the action on the water starts at 11:00 hours on Saturday.

CHYC suggests great vantage points to view the race are Muttonbird Island, Macauleys Headland, Park Beach and the Northern Breakwall.

Action recommences at 10:00 hours on Sunday 25 June.


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