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Zhik Etchells NSW States: Graeme Taylor commanding lead on day one

18 November 2011 - Graeme Taylor already holds a commanding lead at the end of day one in the 55 boat fleet contesting the Zhik Etchells NSW State Championship at Pittwater.
Consistent sailing paid off for the Magpie team with three consecutive seconds in the first day of racing. Taylor remained in control of each race while those around him bounced on the results table. It was only in race two of the day that he showed some frustration with not achieving a first.

Photo – . Zhik Etchells NSW, Graeme Taylor's Magpie team delivered consistent results on day one
Photographer – Damian Devine

“We could have won that race,” Taylor said after crossing the line. “It was my mistake. I should have listened to the old fellow (Steve Jarvin) and done what he said. At least we had a great start in that race.”   Young Brisbane skipper, 28-yeard-old Matthew Chew is sitting in second overall after delivering a slightly jagged list of results placing seventh, 15th and then back up to eighth to take his Gen XY team to 23 points overall. There was a broad grin on Chew’s face at the end of the day. All he wants now is a bit more breeze tomorrow to stay in the running.   In third place lies Ante Razmilovic’s Matatu out of Hong Kong. He was another skipper with a range of results from 17th then into first before bouncing back out to eighth in the last race and 26 points overall.   The weatherman was almost right for once as the day served up a soft north east breeze of up to 10 knots with a slight ocean swell. The breeze swung in five to 10 degree shifts in each race making the racing a tacticians challenge or nightmare, depending on how well they made the call.                                                                                                                                                             In the first race PRO Stephen Merrington struggled to get the fleet off to a clear start as the skippers showed nerves and others aggression on the start. Finally on the fourth start the fleet were sent off on a 1.8 nautical mile windward/leeward race. There was plenty of noise on this fourth start as Colin Beashel and his North Star team led the fleet from the middle of the start line.   By the first mark round it seemed the left hand was paying as Jud Smith’s Roulette led ahead of David Rose’s This Will Make Her Scream and the Burke Melia’s No Mercy. Next around were Taylor and then John Bertrand’s Triad. Next came a big break of about five boat lengths and then the rest of the fleet followed.   A five degree shift and course change saw a difference of opinion across the fleet as they split after the bottom mark. Smith continued to dominate the race, at least three boat lengths ahead of Melia and Taylor, right to the finish where he stomped on the fleet with his resounding finish.   In the meantime Taylor had quietly crept up into second with Burke into third and Rose into fourth.   Race two saw the breeze shift to 60 degrees and strengthen up to about 10 knots. First gun saw a clear start and again Beashel in the middle of the start line. Smith took the pin end. Again most of the fleet sailed out to the left. A ten degree shift and Razmilovic powered around the bottom mark with Mark Bulka’s Perfect Balance. Peter McNeill was second and then Taylor in third.   Clearly the balance of power had shifted as some of the top players found themselves out of the top ten. Bertrand rounded in about 10th place and Smith in about 25th place.   The biggest drama of the second race was an OCS for Beashel and his team. They sailed the course not knowing about the call having earlier lost their VHF over-board.   Another change of course for the second rounding of the top mark and Razmilovic held the lead. Next came Taylor and Bulka, both neck and neck on the mark.   Looking to catch up on places, on the final run to the finish Smith stayed out to the left of the course along with Tom King while the rest of the fleet followed the right hand lane towards the finishing line. Razmilovic held his lead to the end with Taylor into another second place and Bulka into third.   As the afternoon light started to fad the final race started in softening breeze. Set for 1.5 nautical mile legs and pencil sharpened to record any miscreants, there was one more general recall for the day. On the second start and with a black flag flying, two boats were sent home – Mark Thornburrow’s Racer X and David Baldwin’s Volante.   On the second start it was another middle line start for Beashel. Smith stuck to the pin end.   Rose led around the first top mark rounding with Chew hot on this stern. Stephen O’Rouke was up in third followed by Taylor. Next came Mark Richards and then Peter Merrington.   Bertrand touched the mark and then had to take a 720 penalty. He seemed to pick the worst possible place to do it and then was looking very unhappy about this very costly penalty.   Rose continued to lead the fleet with Chew rounding the bottom mark for the first time still in second. The breeze remained steady, but softening to about eight knots.   It was not until the top mark second rounding that Chew took control of the race from Rose to round in first place and then lead the fleet down to the finish line Taylor also moved up the queue to push Rose out and take his third second place.   “We’re pretty happy with our results. It’s where we want to be after a very day of racing. It wasn’t a one way track out there. Everyone says the Palm Beach circle is a one way track, but it wasn’t a left hand track today,” Taylor said.   It’s still early days in the event. Bertrand carries a 33rd, Smith a 26th. A few good races for them in the next two days and few bad races for the leaders, and the leaderboard could change significantly.   Top ten results after three races are –   1 Graeme Taylor/Ben Morison - Jack/Steve Jarvin (AUS) 6.00 2 Matthew Chew/Darren Jones/Paul Wyatt/Tim Lowe (AUS) 23.00 3 Ante Razmilovic/Chris Larson/Stuart Flinn (HKG) 26.00 4 David Rose/John McLean/Joshua Torpy (AUS) 31.00 5 Mark Bulka/Ben Solly/Peter Milne (AUS) 31.00 6 Jud Smith/Mark Johnson/Nikolas Burfoot (AUS) 34.00 7 David Clark/Alan  Smith/Andrew Smith (AUS) 36.00 8 Peter McNeill/David Gleadhill/Simon Reffold (AUS) 41.00 9 Mark Richards/Gary Smith/Josh Whittaker (AUS) 44.00 10 John Bertrand/Nathan Outteridge/William McCarthy (AUS) 44.00   The Etchells NSW Championship 2011 is sponsored by Zhik, North Sails, Pacesetter Yachts, Protector Yachts and Wetton Signage Group.   The full entry list can be found on the event website http://www.rpayc.com.au/etchells-states