Etchells Bedrock Championship was held over the weekend of the 5th and 6th of September, organised by Royal Southern Yacht Club with Tanya Robinson as PRO, whose team were warmly congratulated by the Etchells fleet at the Prize Giving for doing such a great job in difficult conditions.
Saturday morning: the fleet was greeted with a light NW breeze coming down Southampton Water onto the Hill Head and Bramble Plateau for the 13 enthusiastic Etchells ready to race. The first race saw Robert Drake’s Desperate port tack the fleet at the start line as a right-handed shift combined with the dropping breeze, caught most of the fleet out whilst starting against a fast flooding Solent tidal stream.
On the right-hand Hillhead shore, Desperate was the first to arrive with what looked initially like an easy lead, followed by Tom Abrey (aka Captain Hook) sailing Jolly Roger, whose Etchells inadvertently had acted as a low water mark for the fleet, parking for a minute or so. Unfortunately for Desperate, as can often happen with a light breeze from Southampton Water, the pressure dropped, and the boat which managed to find the best breeze was Ante Razmilovic’s Swedish Blue, which then led at the top mark and continued to lead the 4 leg race to win race 1.
Race 2 saw the tide change, and Laurence Mead, tactician on Malcolm Offord’s Plant Hunter, made the most of the tide as it sailed furthest into the Hill Head shore, gaining from the new ebb, and leading at the first mark. It was noticeable that Scaramouche Graduate, Camilo Ordobo, on Plant Hunter, was one of the most active bowmen in the fleet. At the first downwind mark, the ever fast Swedish Blue had taken the lead, but there was another twist on the final downwind leg: Plant Hunter gybed onto port first, thereby benefiting from a northerly puff and squeezed by Swedish Blue to win race 2.
Race 3 started under black flag after two U flag starts failed to get the fleet cleanly away. Swedish Blue, reveling in the strengthening breeze now above 12 knots, comfortably won. After Race 3, Swedish Blue started sailing home to Cowes when the race officer, having reviewed Sunday’s weather forecast, sensibly chose to run another race. A rib was dispatched to bring the overall leaders back to compete one more race before they could drink their well-earned beers.
At first, it looked like Razmilovic might have just as well continued home to Cowes as he had a poor start at an over-crowded pin, coming 8th at the top mark and 6th at the bottom. But he had worked back to 3rd at the final windward rounding. Jolly Roger started away from the congestion at the pin, and used three quick shifts on the first beat to lead the fleet at the top mark. After its earlier escapade on the beach, Jolly Roger was unwilling to give up the lead, and in the rising 16 knot breeze and choppy sea, it won by 100 meters from the now 2nd placed Swedish Blue who had match raced and over-taken Graham Sunderland on Strait Dealer on the final leg.
Sunday at first looked like the predicted lack of wind was likely, but after an hour’s delay, the wind had revived and the now 15 boat fleet was ready to race.
It was the first day racing an Etchells for J70 champion Paul Ward on Man’s Best Friend, which won the pin, and sailed on starboard deeper into a left-hand shift before tacking and leading at the top mark. Ward, now in clean air, pulled away from the pack on the downwind leg to win Race 5, with Razmilovic coming 2nd.
Race 6 saw Ward start cleanly by the Committee Boat and playing the shifts, led Razmilovic by four boat lengths at the top mark. Ward, without the advantage of clean air and as Razmilovic got the downwind puffs first, found himself neck and neck with Swedish Blue approaching the bottom mark. Ward chose the downwind right gate, but Razmilovic selected the more favourable left to come out ahead. Razmilovic’s Swedish Blue, with his usual crew of Brian Hammersley and Andrew Mills, won the race from Jolly Roger, thus cementing their Regatta win. In 4th place overall, and 1st place ISAF Cat1 Amateur Team, was Sumo, skippered by Robby Boyd, helmed by Miles Jones, with Jack Sharland and Ted Blowers sharing crewing duties.
The next Etchells regatta is the National Championship on the 25-27th September
Weekends results are available at
Videos will also be published soon