Sunday, 29 August 2010

Etchells Worlds 2010: Andrew Palfrey on the Triad Team's Lead-Up to their Victory

John Bertrand, Andrew Palfrey and Tom Slingsby, from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Melbourne, Australia, take the 2010 Etchells Worlds, sailed at Howth Yacht Club, Ireland, with a race to spare

John Bertrand's boat at the New Zealand Etchells Championships 2004. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

by Anne Hinton

Andrew Palfrey, hailing from Melbourne, originally, is a long-time Etchells sailor – turned coach and occasional Etchells sailor. Palfrey first moved away from Melbourne selling the late Ian Bashford’s Etchells boats, subsequently got into the Star with Iain Murray, went to the Olympics, and has kept up corinthian Etchells sailing in his spare time, post-2008 with Australia’s first America’s Cup winner, John Bertrand.

Andrew Palfrey. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

In 2009, John Bertrand had already signed up Ben Ainslie for the Australian Nationals in Adelaide when Andrew Palfrey joined the team. There was lots of wind and sun in Adelaide and, as Palfrey put it, they “had a ball” and won the Nationals with a race to spare.

John Bertrand and then crew win the New Zealand National Etchells title in 2004. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

The 2009 Worlds were in Melbourne, home town to John Bertrand and Andrew Palfrey, and were the main focus. The team was winning halfway through, “then we pulled the trigger a little early and got an OCS,” said Palfrey. “We got the side we wanted heading left on a day we were all convinced it was going to go left. It was late in the day. Both John and I grew up in Melbourne, Ben’s won two Worlds in Melbourne... It was a light sea breeze. We had got burnt in the previous race because we didn’t go far enough left.

“The guys we had to beat didn’t have a great start and got flushed out right. We thought this was it! Then it went right ten degrees and those guys were fifth or something. It just didn’t pan out our way,” said Palfrey. “It was, nonetheless, a fantastic event. John was really disappointed. He has not won an Etchells Worlds despite being in the class for ages. Just to see how he carried himself after that day in the evening and at the presentation was awesome: a real gentleman, paying respect to the winners. I got a lot out of it. I am sure Ben did too.”

Affinity (Etchells belonging to Dean Barker, sailed by John Bertrand) and spray in New Zealand. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

How the crew is organised

Palfrey commented that it’s important to have roles on the boat, otherwise there can be a lot of good talk and communication, but no decisions. “With John, we said to Ben ‘you are the tactician. We will give you input but not take offence if you go against the input’. My job to make sure sails go up and down and support the middleman. John’s is to steer the boat. There are cross-overs. If I felt strongly about something, I would speak up, but most of the time you’d just make observations. It’s really important to divide the roles up and stick to it,” said Palfrey.

Tom Slingsby with his Gold medal from Weymouth 2010. Image copyright onEdition - all rights reserved.

Tom Slingsby, Australia’s top Laser sailor (and Gold medallist at the Skandia Sail for Gold 2010 event in Weymouth last week), now sails with the team in place of Ben Ainslie. “Shut your eyes and it could be Ben, with the way he communicates on the boat,” says Palfrey. “He’s an awesome young guy.” On the boat, John Bertrand is 63, Andrew Palfrey 43 and Tom Slingsby 23 – so quite an age range in the crew!

Former America's Cup adversaries: Dennis Conner (NZL sail) and John Bertrand (AUS sail) race against each other in Etchells in New Zealand. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

2010 Worlds preparation

Due to Slingsby racing in the Skandia Sail for Gold Olympic venue event, and Palfrey coaching the Kiwi Star sailors, Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk, at the same event, the team was not able to do much preparation for the 2010 Worlds in Howth, Ireland.

Tom Slingsby on his way to victory in the Laser class at Skandia Sail for Gold in Weymouth last week. Image copyright onEdition - all rights reserved.

“We borrowed a local boat (Dan O’Grady’s) in May for some training. There is no chance of any more sailing before the Worlds start,” say Palfrey. “John decided he would rather sail with us and limited preparation than start again with a new crew.

“Hopefully it will free us up mentally to be able to sail without expectation to perform. I am sure we will be a bit rusty and a few points will slip through in the first couple of days,” said a very modest Palfrey, before the Worlds.

The abilities of this super-talented Etchells crew from Down Under were not under-estimated by their opposition. The result was the 2010 Etchells World Championship victory, with a race to spare!

An Etchells plunges into a wave. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Etchells Worlds 2010 Results after 8 of 9 races (top 12 places)
43 boats entered from 8 countries

1st 83 AUS 1383 Triad Royal Brighton YC John Bertrand 5.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 (9.0) 1.0 4.0 1.0 23.0 14.0
2nd 33 GBR 1333 Swedish Blue Royal Hong Kong YC Ante Razmilovic 1.0 4.0 2.0 12.0 4.0 5.0 2.0 (19.0) 49.0 30.0
3rd 24 AUS 924 Barry Sandringham YC D King/S Cunnington 2.0 5.0 9.0 5.0 10.0 3.0 (30.0) 6.0 70.0 40.0
4th 34 SIN 1340 Matatu Royal Swedish YC Nils Razmilovic 4.0 8.0 6.0 4.0 1.0 (28.0) 18.0 7.0 76.0 48.0
5th 99 AUS 991 The Boat Royal Brighton YC Jake Gunther (21.0) 2.0 4.0 3.0 5.0 11.0 6.0 17.0 69.0 48.0
6th 97 GBR 1297 Holly Scott! RORC Eamonn O'Nolan 16.0 6.0 (19.0) 11.0 2.0 4.0 1.0 11.0 70.0 51.0
7th 14 USA 1224 1224 Eastern YC/NYYC Jud Smith 9.0 10.0 (15.0) 10.0 6.0 13.0 9.0 3.0 75.0 60.0
8th 29 GBR 1329 Stampede Royal Thames YC Julia Bailey 19.0 12.0 10.0 (21.0) 3.0 2.0 13.0 9.0 89.0 68.0
9th 32 USA 1232 Keep Smiling Houston YC Marvin Beckmann (24.0) 13.0 8.0 6.0 23.0 6.0 3.0 10.0 93.0 69.0
10th 39 GBR 1339 Freelance Royal Corinthian YC, Cowes .. Laurence Mead 23.0 11.0 (29.0) 2.0 15.0 14.0 5.0 5.0 104.0 75.0
11th 52 GBR 1352 Arbitrator RCYC Graham Bailey 3.0 9.0 5.0 15.0 7.0 12.0 (31.0) 26.0 108.0 77.0
12th 27 USA 1327 Raging Rooster American YC Peter S. Duncan 18.0 (44.0 DNF) 22.0 7.0 12.0 15.0 14.0 4.0 136.0 92.0

Etchells Worlds 2010