10:50 PM Mon 7 May 2012 GMT
The current Etchells World Champion and 2011 Winter Etchells champion team, Sydney's Iron Lotus, are heading back to sunny Mooloolaba for the June long-weekend regatta.
The four-man team of Tom King, Ivan Wheen, Owen McMahon and David Edwards delivered an impressive performance in last year's Etchells Winters which was part of the final preparations for their assault on the World Championship title in Sydney in February this year.
It wasn't surprising that King and his fellow Olympians, McMahon and Edwards, along with Wheen, claimed the Sydney Worlds title ahead of two other Australian teams. They sailed a flawless regatta using their knowledge of Sydney offshore conditions and international campaign experience to slip ahead of the 74-boat fleet.
So King's team clearly goes into this year's ADCO Etchells Australasian Winter Championship as favourites. But, this may be where their golden run ends. The ADCO Etchells Winters has been run consecutively for 15 years. During that time not one winning skipper has been able to defend their Winter title, but many have tried and tried hard.
This year King will be up against a large number of local and overseas sailors returning to an event that has the reputation of being fun on the land, but very hard fought on the offshore course. Overseen by International Race Officers, Ross and Kevin Wilson, the six race series will include current national champion David Clark and his Fifteen team along with NSW champion Graeme Taylor's Magpie.
Both are experienced on the Mooloolaba offshore course with Taylor the winning skipper in 2008 and on board the winning boat in 2004. Clark has competed many times in the Winters, his best result being a second in 2010.
Clark may find the going a bit different this year as he is skippering a charter boat, Dawn Raid, with regular hand Andrew Smith and a new third man in John Collingwood. 'John rang me to see if I would be interested in steering Dawn Raid for this regatta. Both Mark Tonner Joyce and Glen, his regular team, are busy on the domestic front so Spot and I said we will help John. Should be fun and a great opportunity for me to work with a different boat and sail package. I put fifteen on the market after the Worlds and have yet to sell it. Know anyone who wants to buy it?' Clark said.
Heading down under and fresh from winning the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Spring Regatta, Mark Thornburrow will be back to one of his favourite racing locations. He will be joined by fellow Hong Kong sailor Sam Sakai, New Zealander Simon Cooke and local Etchells sailing maestro Bucky Smith.
The Victorian entries are starting to arrive led by Peter Coleman, Mal Blom and Chris Hampton. The Sydney Fleet are also showing their continued support for the ADCO Etchells Winter, even after a superb effort organising the Sydney Etchells Worlds. Leading that fleet are Michael Stovin-Bradford, Mark Johnson and Roger Hickman.
Travelling over from the great west will be Dirk Van Der Struyf and new comer, Ian Anderson.
From Queensland, David Healey is entered with another eight entries from Brisbane and Gold Coast due.
by Tracey Johnstone