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Etchells ignites: a returning champion will return for the battle only one has successfully defended at the Etchells Australasians Championship.

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The Etchells Australasians Championships' first female winning skipper, Jeanne-Claude Strong, will return in June with her Yandoo XX team in the hope of creating another historic class victory.

With the 20th anniversary trophy a powerful drawcard for the past and recent Australasian participants, Strong is pragmatic in her expectations of joining the exclusive two-time winning club which is currently solely occupied by Matthew Chew and his Gen XY team.

She knows it will be another year of a big and very competitive fleet full of Etchells world champions, America's Cup and Olympic class sailors.

"If you were to ask me what our chances were of winning last year; I thought the chances were quite low. In fact remarkably low. I am amazed we did win. Given that, the thought of winning again, it would be totally out of this world and unexpected.

"It's always been difficult historically for anyone to win the championship more than once.

"The odds are low, but we are certainly going to be giving it our best," Strong said.

Strong, 65, will have her usual team of Neville Wittey and Marcus Burke. As forward hand Tiana Wittey is caught up with her final school year, Strong is looking for a slight sized sailor to take up that position for this year's championship.

The annual Mooloolaba Yacht Club EvansLong Etchells Australasian Championship will be held from June 9 to 12.

Organising committee chair Trevor Martin says he is anticipating an outstanding event as the Etchells sailors start talking about the Mooloolaba regatta and new event supporters join the sponsor family.

"We are encouraged by the level of interest in this year's event. The enquiries have been coming from the west and southern states so I still expect we will reach 50 entries," Martin said.

"Michael Coxon has already committed to race. I am now working on a lot of the other top sailors like our latest national champion GT (Graeme Taylor), to get them to return to Mooloolaba for the 20th year. We also expect a good number of first-timers."

The Sunshine Coast company Evans Long, which recently purchased the regatta onshore venue at The Wharf Mooloolaba, has come on board as the event's leading sponsor. Other supporters that have signed up recently are North Sails, Harken Australia, Newport Apartments and the event social hub, The Wharf Tavern.

www.moolooletchells.com

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Title Annotation:RACE & REGATTA PREVIEW
Author:Johnstone, Tracey
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Date:Apr 1, 2016
Words:396
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