This was the final regatta before next weeks 2006 Audi Etchells Worlds, an eight race series which runs from 18-25 November. This will certainly be one of the strongest international fleets for many years
LISSIMAN with crew Ben DURHAM and Kane WILLIAMSON won from Mark BULKA, Stewart NICHOLS and Steve YOUNG (AUS) from the Melbourne fleet. Britain's Andy BEADSWORTH sailing with James MCHUGH and Simon FRY were third. Fourth were the Kiwi crew of Alastair GAIR, David RIDLEY, Carl PETERS and Derek SCOTT.
LISSIMAN, who will qualify for the Masters fleets next May, commented, 'It's funny, in all the years we've never won a Western Australian title, still have to put that notch on the belt. We were second in the last Australian Etchells titles in Perth in 2001, behind Noel 'Nitro' DRENNAN and today went one better.
'It's great to win the Australian title and especially one with such a strong fleet, less than a week before the Audi Etchells Worlds.'
LISSIMAN is a member of the World's organizing committee and like many of the Swan River fleet sailors, has been 'a little short of time' on the water.
'Our crew time had been a little short. Ben DURHAM in the middle, who sailed with James SPITHILL [(AUS)] on the Young Australia team and is now with the Luna Rossa America's Cup programme, had never set an Etchells spinnaker until we rounded the first mark. We still have plenty of work to do before the Worlds.
'In the last race the weather had settled to a standard sea breeze pattern. We wanted to go left, it was crowded so we just reached for the left corner and were well placed at the first mark. We saw Alistair [GAIR] had gone right and was buried, so we just kept our eye on Mark BULKA and Andy BEADSWORTH and sailed a little conservatively for the final part of the race.'
The final race in the series was won by John BERTRAND (AUS). He finished sixth overall and his second on a penultimate day and win on the final day on Sunday showed he will be a force in the Worlds.
Dockside the 59 year old, was relaxed. 'This regatta was a lot of fun and it was great to win today. Sailing is something that I enjoy immensely but I retired when we won the America's Cup. I don't sail anything other than Etchells now.
'The Audi Etchells Worlds fleet will be red hot. Skip's [LISSIMAN] sailing well, Andy BEADSWORTH's made a fast transition into the class. Stuart CHILDERLEY will be coming from the UK and he has won two World Championships in fresh conditions. Judd SMITH [(USA)] is hot as well; clearly, he has the technical skills for heavy conditions.
'We look forward to being competitive and actually doing some damage among the young guns.'
The World Championship title sponsor Audi Australia also sponsored the 2006 Audi Etchells Nationals. Audi Australia are supporting a wide range of Australian sailing events including the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and the Audi Regatta in Sydney, and will be certain to make this a memorable event. The Maersk shipping Line is another Premium Sponsor and their support has meant that 28 containers have brought Etchells to Perth from around the world.