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2016 Etchells Europeans & Worlds

Posted by on October 20, 2016

North-powered teams sweep 10 spots at the Etchells Worlds and Europeans

The Etchells Class has a habit of picking the world's best venues to host their World Championship Regatta and this year the class kept that tradition going as the fleet migrated to the sailing hotspot of the Cowes on the Isle of Wight in Great Britain and compete on the challenging waters of the Solent to crown the 2016 World Champion. Throughout the summer of 2016, in preparation for their World Championship in early September, many teams from around the globe had shipped boats early in the season and spent many weekends in the summer months racing with and competing in the Cowes fleet races as preparation for sailing in the tricky waters of The Solent.

For my team, Aretas, we outlined four separate weekend events to use to, not only get familiar with the area, but the race course and general vibe that comes with such a fabulous destination with a rich tradition of sailing history. Thankfully for our team setting this up and getting the boat organized was fairly easy. David Franks, Cowes Fleet Leader, and Graham Sunderland, Resident expert of everything Cowes, helped in every way possible from logistics to recommendations for nearly everything we would need to be comfortable. Their support of the summer excursion is very much appreciated, not only by our team, but the dozens of other teams that called Cowes home for a good chunk of the summer.

We knew that the racing area would be challenging as the currents across the Bramble Bank and Hill Head are very tricky and we spent many hours consulting Graham's tide book in essence cramming for our final exams!. We quickly learned that knowing the water movement was a key success factor and the early events we sailed reinforced the importance of the tidal influences. We also learned (the hard way!) that our gear selection for our North American sailing was lacking quite a few items for the cold, wind and rain that The Solent can produce. I knew we would need to rethink our wardrobes when Jeff Eiber (forward on Aretas) mentioned that he had never been colder than one of the early practice days.

THE EUROPEANS

As the days approached for the Europeans and Worlds in late August, the week (it seemed) of summer finally arrived. Warm, sunny and surprisingly lighter conditions were what we had in the days leading up to the Europeans. As expected for the North Sails Training Day on the day before the Europeans, The Solent came to life with some big winds for the practice session. This pattern of light air and heavy air would turn out to be a small preview of what the conditions would be for both events.

The European Championship proved to be tricky. Staying consistent in the Etchells fleet is always difficult, but throw in the variables of wind, tide and fleet size and one is usually quite happy with a single-digit finish. Congratulations to North Sails New Zealand’s Andrew Wills, crew Anatole Masfen and Matthew Kelway for an impressive event, winning by 21 points over the team of Ante Razmilovic, Chris Larson and Brian Hammersley.

North-powered boats finished 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9*,10 at the Etchells Europeans

With a few days between the Europeans and the Worlds, many teams left Cowes to see other parts of Great Britain. Our team spent time fine-tuning Aretas and enjoying Cowes. We practiced with our coach, David Howlett and learned more about our set up and spent time working on starts. This hard work had us looking forward to getting on the real starting line for the Worlds!

THE WORLDS

The Worlds this year might have been one of the toughest Etchells events ever. It was certainly one of the deepest and most challenging regattas I have ever sailed. It seemed every boat we crossed or ducked or rounded with was filled with talent: from World and National Champions to America’s Cup to local rock stars who matched the top sailors in the world tack-for-tack.

The weather started off light and many times out of a direction that the locals claim it "is never like this." This put a premium on being consistent and, with the strong tides sometimes pushing the fleet over the line, there were many teams that began the series with OCSs, including our team in Race 1. But you have to look at these events as a marathon and pace yourself with good scores. John Bertrand and his teammates Paul Blowers and Ben Lamb did this to perfection by staying consistent. They threw out a 34 and had to keep a 22, but had top 10 scores otherwise, which is very impressive. To win the last race by a healthy margin was the exclamation point on the event. Congratulations to JB, Paul and Ben!

If there was one key lesson I was reminded of sailing the Etchells Worlds and racing in the Solent it would be that you can’t be too prepared. Though our team spent a fair amount of time in Cowes leading up to the event, the idiosyncrasies of the tides, winds, currents and weather made for an extraordinarily challenging venue. Absorbing as much information as we could was nearly a full time job. With so many equally fast teams racing, the importance of having a good feel for what to expect on the race course was an important element for all the top teams. We are certainly glad we did our homework so we were as prepared as possible.

North-powered boats finished 1,2,3,4,5*,6,7,8,9,10 at the Etchells Worlds

NORTH SAILS OUTSTANDING SERVICE

North Sails worldwide Etchells experts Skip Dieball, Charlie Crumbley, Andrew Wills, Sam Haines, Ruairidh Scott, Chris Larson and Matthew Kelway were on site to provide assistance to customers. A North Sails meeting was held to discuss trends in the class and brainstorm design updates to make the World's fastest Etchells sails even faster.

Contact us for more information on the North Sails Etchells Program

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