Boating NZ - - Boat World -

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 or email Alex Web­ster at [email protected]

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