ETCHELLS WORLDS CELEBRATE 50 YEARS
How popular is Etchells racing?
Very, it seems, and perhaps the best way to illustrate it is the 1.2km start line at the recent Etchells worlds in Brisbane, where nearly 100 boats competed.
The 2018 regatta once again attracted some of the top names in international sailing, including Aussie America’s Cup legend John Bertrand – now in his 70s but still competitive in this class – as well as Lawrie Smith, Steve Benjamin, Iain Murray, Grant Simmer and Jud Smith.
A one-design keel-boat designed more than 50 years ago by Skip Etchells, the yacht might be considered ‘classic’ by some, but its high-aspect, finely-tuned rigs generate extremely close racing.
In fact, the regatta of nine races wasn’t won until the final race, with current New Zealand Champion, Martin Hill of Sydney, taking first place from Hong Kong’s Mark Thornborrow and Brisbane local, Matthew Chew. Hill’s crew included Australian 470 Gold medallist Mathew Belcher, Sean O’rourke and Julian Plante.
The New Zealand teams finished in the top third in the fleet, still surrounded by and ahead of some of the ‘big name’ crews. Andrew Wills, Anatole Masfen and Simon Cooke finished in 29th, Lincoln Fraser, Geoff Woolley, Sam Melville and Paul Snow-hansen in 31st and Craig Greenwood, Jeremy Scantlebury and Sam Meech in 35th.
New Zealand’s main Etchells fleet is based at Westhaven, with weekly Tuesday evening racing.
In 2020 the Etchells Worlds returns to Australia with Perth hosting the regatta. For information about joining Auckland’s Etchells fleet visit www.etchells.org.nz or email Alex Webster at [email protected]