Sydney sailmaker and international yachtsman Michael Coxon today added yet another major championship victory to his illustrious sailing career by winning a cliff-hanger Suncity Homes Australian Winter Etchells Championship held off Mooloolaba on the ...
Mooloolaba Yacht Club, 11 June 2001
The win, against a star-studded and record 51-boat fleet of Australia's top sailors, including America's Cup and Olympic skippers and past World and Australian champions, rates Coxon as one of the nation's outstanding, and most versatile, helmsmen.
Sailing North Sydney Station with Steve "Mothy" Jarvin and Ed McCarthy as crew, Coxon finished sixth in the final race to complete a consistent series, marred only by a premature start and OCS (on course side) penalty in race seven yesterday. Coxon disputed the call by race officials but lost his argument in the protest room before this morning's race, with the heavy penalty making a high place in the final race vital for an overall victory.
He did just that, recovering brilliantly from a mediocre start to finish sixth and win from Olympic bronze medallist and two-times Etchells World Champion Colin Beashel and newcomer to the class, 30-year-old Queenslander Mark Bradford, sailing only his second major Etchells regatta. The sailing career of Coxon, the 43-year-old principal of North Sails, in Sydney extends back more than 20 years and includes winning an Australian 18-footer championship, many successes in the Etchells class, along with America's Cup and Admiral's Cup campaigns and extensive ocean racing, including many Sydney to Hobarts.In the Etchells class he has finished in three top three in five championships he has contested at Mooloolaba, also winning two National championships as a crew and one as a helmsman. "My two wins as a crew in the Etchells Nationals were with Dennis Conner and David Forbes, two legends of sailing, and I guess that a little rubbed off," Coxon said after today's final race. "But the helmsman is only as good as his crew and I had one of the best in the class in this regatta; Ed and I have been sailing together for 15 years, Mothy (Steve Jarvin) with us on and off for 10 years."
Michael Coxon comes fom a wellknown Sydney sailing family, with his elder brother Richard (a former Olympic sailor) and his son, Michael, also competing in the regatta, while watching out on the course each day was his mother, Joan, who lives in retirement on the Sunshine Coast. Their father, former Sydney yachtsman Jim Coxon, passed away last year. Michael and Richard's sister, Lyndall, is also a former Laser women's world champion, earlier this year winning the Masters champion at the Australian Laser titles in Hobart.
A 15-knot south-easterly seabreeze gave the big fleet perfect sailing conditions for the final race on the offshore course where Mooloolaba Yacht Club will host the World Championship for the Etchells class in November, 2004. Going into the eighth and final race, Mark Bradford, sailing Racer X, had held a two point lead overall from Michael Coxon in North Sydney Station, with two points back to Jan "Clogs" Scholten in Contender Sailcloth, another five points to Colin Beashel, steering Pacesettter. Any of the four could be the ultimate winner.
From a clear start, Perth skipper and former Australian champion Glenn Tucker set the pace in AUS1144, leading around the first windward mark a couple of boat lengths clear of Beashel and 1983 America's Cup winning skipper John Bertrand, steering Two Saints and a Magpie, with Coxon back in ninth place. At that stage Beashel, a former two-times World Champion in the Etchells class and Olympic bronze medallist, had a grip on the title with Coxon, Bradford and Scholten well back in the fleet. Bertrand took the lead on the second windward leg, breaking away from Tucker and Beashel to get clear air as the fleet rounded the leeward mark after the first spinnaker run.
Bertrand's power to windward in the fresh breeze took him to the lead at the windward mark for the second time and he won the race convincingly from Satu, skippered by Grant Wharington, better known as the owner/skipper of Victorian ocean racing maxi yacht, Wild Thing, steering Glenn Tucker steering AUS 1144 into third place. It was a touch of Bertrand at his best in fresh weather, but unfortunately he had mixed results through the eight race regatta, still finishing a creditable sixth overall. Beashel slipped back to finish fourth, but still sufficient high in the fleet to oust Bradford from second place overall, with the young Queenslander placing 14th while Scholten finished 18th.
Suncity Homes Australian Winter Etchells Championship:
1. Two Saints and a Magpie (John Bertrand, Vic)
2. Satu (Grant Wharington, Vic)
3. AUS 1144 (Glenn Tucker, WA)
4. Pacesetter (Colin Beashel, NSW)
5. Bananas in Pyjames (Ian Johnston, Vic)
6. North Sydney Station (Michael Coxon, NSW)
Final overall results:
1. North Sydney Station (Michael Coxon, NSW) placings 1-12-2-7-1-5-OCS-6, 34 pts.
2. Pacesetter (Colin Beashel, NSW) 3-8-12-1-7-6-10-4, 39 pts.
3. Racer X (Mark Bradford, Qld) 2-2-3-13-5-1-40-14, 40 pts.
4. Contender Sailcloth (Jan Scholten, NSW) 8-1-5-4-3-24-9-18, 48 pts.
5. AUS1144 (Glenn Tucker, WA) 12-OCS-6-17-11-2-4-3, 55 pts.
6. Two Saints and a Magpie (John Bertrand, Vic) 13-OCS-9-2-13-3-20-1, 61 pts.
7. Trilogy (Ben Noble, Qld) 11-10-36-19-9-4-1-20, 74 pts.
8. Fine Dining (Rob Antill, NSW) 24-15-7-11-12-8-6-17, 76 pts.
9. Satu (Grant Wharington, Vic) 4-OCS-30-6-2-23-19-2, 86 pts.
10. Bob (Kelsey Gager, NZL) 20-4-13-30-14-16-7-15, 89 pts.