National Championships 2020

27 September 2020 Etchells Open and National Champs Royal London YC Cowes Photo: Rick Tomlinson

16 Etchells came to the line for the British National Championships on a cold blustery September day (26th and 27th) with the wind out of the north-west. Although fleet set out in only 14 or 15 knots of breeze the forecast was for something solidly in the mid-20s from the North and that’s how it panned out. A building cold breeze but three very competitive races sailed.

Race one looked like it was heading in the direction of fleet captain David Franks (Graham Sunderland / Ryan Orr / Vita Heathcote) who sailed the first three shifts beautifully to lead. Heading right towards the shore every little header helped him and he led comfortably. Also on port early was class newcomer Malcolm Offord who despite it being only his 17th weekend steering a boat was comfortably holding third. The second beat saw the speed master coming to play however. Ante Razmilovic (Brian Hammersley / Andrew Mills) managed to get to the right of the pack, picked up a nice shift off the shore and with his heavy airspeed blew through into the lead. Malcolm Offord made a mess of one tack which ended up with him taking a backflip into the water (nil points for the dive) and that left James Howells (Charlie Cumbley / Jamie Lea) recently returned to the Etchells fleet (ten days ago!) close to the chocolates, just behind Dragon sailor Grant Gordon (Ruairidh Scott / Sophie Scott / James Williamson) making his first appearance in a chartered boat who took second.  Rob Gullan put in an early pitch for the Corinthian title taking top slot in that group in fifth.

Race 2 started with more of the fleet wanting the right and lining up at the windward end of the start line to get it. David Franks came off the pin side of the fleet but unlike race 1, the gentle march of the breeze into the north meant that oscillations from the left were few and far between and he was never able to get back in contention. J70 World Champion Paul Ward got the right hand side of the course and with his American-style, traveller down and tight mainsail leech trim, was never headed. At the windward mark he could have got out of the cold beer (hot chocolate?) such was his lead. Howells took second, Grant Gordon another third with Razmilovic in fourth. The winners were winning big, able to get onto the lifted tack in each shift that much earlier than the pack and extending away.

For race 3 of day one the forecast increase in the breeze came to fruition with the peak gust of 27 kn from the north registered on Bramblemet. There aren’t many faster Etchells in the world when it’s windy than Razmilovic (still trimmed with his usual higher traveller and more twist than Ward was using) but on this occasion he was headed by James Howells, who was himself no slouch in the very windy Cowes Worlds of 2007 when he came fourth overall with David Bedford and Oscar Mead crewing.

Most encouraging for the fleet however was perhaps the 3rd place for Jon Warwick and his young team and 4th for Robby Boyd and his youth (under 25) team. Both did fantastically well, in properly hardcore conditions. A testament to the Royal London / David Franks youth academy program.

The end of day one therefore saw James Howells and Ante Razmilovic tied first on seven points and only Grant Gordon hanging on with nine. Paul Ward (Ben Saxton / Paul Childs) despite, his race win was carrying an 8 and an 11, David Franks had only added an eighth and 10 to his earlier second place which left the Corinthian team of Jon Warwick (Will Bedford / Fraser Woodley / Hannah Hunt) looking strong with consistent placing of 7, 5, 3. 

 Unluckiest crew on day one must have been Andrew Lawson (Hamish Mackay and  William Russell) who having purchased GBR1409 on Friday and driven down from Glasgow for the weekend found themselves in a collision half way down the first run (not their fault) that led to their retirement from the race….. and from the rest of the day. A long drive for a short sail! Local class builder David Heritage worked his magic overnight and they were back out on Sunday.

 The forecast for day two looked very windy in the morning but Predict Wind had a significant drop off from lunchtime and after a two-hour delay on the shore that is how it panned out. RO Peter Taylor from the Royal London YC sent the fleet set out at noon into a 23 knot northerly which was easing. The sun came out and it turned out to be a fantastic days racing.

 Three boats were, in effect, in contention and in race 4 they all battled it out at the front. James Howells made it two race wins on the trot, with Grant Gordon in second, Paul Ward back on form for third whilst David Franks took fourth-place pushing Razmilovic into fifth. With the shortened day and only two races really likely to be on offer that effectively bought the championship down to a two-way scrap between Howells and Razmilovic. Howells only had to beat Razmilovic to seal his return to the fleet with a bang and the National Champions title. 

As the four-minute signal sounded the breeze was definitely in a strong right-hand phase and according to the Graham Sunderland winning tides book the tide would have turned on the shore as well. That led to quite a lot of bunching at the committee boat with Grant Gordon‘s team winning it, standing on for 30 seconds before tacking. Behind that Malcolm Offord (Laurence Mead / Camilo Ordobo) was next on the port with Azat Ulutas (Seun Williams / Jesse Opokuware / Harry Blowers) from Greg City Academy also heading to the beach.

Graham Sunderland followed his own books advice and had David Franks joining this trio heading right whilst Howells and Razmilovic were further down the line having their own private battle. Both were lifted on starboard and hoping for an oscillation back to the left. With the tide creating an effective right-hand shift however that leftie never came and the four boats who had struck right early on we never headed. While Grant Gordon extended to one of the biggest leads your reporter has ever seen in the class the other three battled around for the podium, with Franks getting it on the finish line, 6 feet ahead of Malcolm Offord who was 12 feet on front of Azat Ulutas.

Howells crossed for sixth-place with Razmilovic in seventh, both using their discards which allowed Grant Gordon to leapfrog into second overall despite this being his first ever Etchells event. Showing how difficult consistency was in such a strong fleet, only the top three had all five results in single figures. 

 Corinthian National Champion was John Warwick and his young team in sixth while with their fantastic fourth in the last race Azat Ulutas took the youth prize at ninth overall, a truly great result for such a young team.

 So ended the 2020 British Etchells National Championships, cold on day 1, warm on day 2 and red hot racing all weekend!

Results are available at

Etchells Bedrock Championship

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

Sir Kenneth Preston Results

Etchells first official regatta of the year, the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron.

22/23rd August 2020, 12 socially distanced crews entered the event which was run in the central Solent. Unfortunately Saturday’s storm meant that racing was held only on Sunday and the RYS organised an early start and 4 windward leeward races of just under an hour each.

To ensure the races were completed before the time cut off, the “U” flag was used. Initially a strong flood tide with a westerly breeze ranging from 10-20 kts was the day’s racing conditions. However, the varying cloud cover meant that big shifts and pressure variations were available for all crews to try and find. Unfortunately, as frequently happens, getting from one favourable shift to another meant sailing through light patches, so the pack was frequently shuffled.

Main Interest of the day was on “Man’s Best Friend” and “Swedish Blue” both of which had been practicing with the new Andrew Palfrey designed jib track system, and it was evident from the fleet support rib that the optional smaller wind angle gave a tremendous advantage in getting a clean lane, starting and laying marks, but if overcooked or not matched by the main sail, could easily jeopardise boat speed.

The first race was won by Robby Boyd sailing “Sumo GBR 1020” who choose correctly the right hand side of the course, as the wind shifted right, and with the added pressure on that side he led and won the race convincingly.

Race 2 was sailed in one of the more sustained wind pressures, and Ante Razmilovic, the fleet’s high wind specialist sailing “Swedish Blue” looked to have won the race by the top mark. However, a wayward halyard meant that sailing minus spinnaker or a jib at the top and the bottom of the course was slow, and this disadvantage meant that Swedish Blue slipped back into the fleet, while John Warwick’s “Audrey” helmed by Will Bedford capitalised to win.

Race 3 was where the event was lost, Grant Simmer sailing “Man’s Best Friend” tried a tight cross on Robby Boyd’s “Sumo” and with Robby feeling he was infringed protested, and as Man’s Best Friend continued sailing scoring a podium result they took the overall lead while awaiting the post racing hearing, as Swedish Blue, now with 2 working halyards went on to win the race.

Race 4, and it was all to play for anyone of 7 out of the 12 boats could now win the series, and it was Grant Simmer Sailing “Man’s Best Friend” who took the race, but the series was all down to the protest room, where the port and starboard rule interpretation “reasonable apprehension of a collision” meant that Man’s Best Friend was scored DSQ’d for race 3.

Robby Boyd and his crew of Quentin Bes-Green and Hugh Ward were the 2020 overall winners, and Cat 1 Corinthian winners, and now Robby has name on a prestigious Trophy’s winners’ board in the Royal Yacht Squadron.

For results see…

Sir Kenneth Preston

The first Cowes Etchells regatta takes place this weekend, the Sir Kenneth Preston regatta run by the Royal Yacht Squadron.  Currently 10 boats entered with a further 3 or 4 saying they will be there!

There is still time to enter – enter here

To comply with RYA requirements please ensure the waiver is signed on Yacht scoring within 24hrs of the start of the event, or sign hard copy at CYH before going out for the first race.  You will not be able to race if you do not comply.

2020 Racing

Our current program as booked with the clubs is: 

22/23 Aug – SKP

5/6 Sept – Bedrock

11/13 Sept – Nationals

3/4 Oct – Southern Areas

24/25 Oct – Ice Bucket

7/8 Nov – Autumn Regatta

None can be confirmed until we know that social distancing rules permit up to 4 unrelated sailors on an Etchells. The Clubs are booked but if they struggle to find a race team, we will look at alternatives so that we can get some racing and/or coaching on these same dates.

The International Etchells Bedrock Trophy

Eight Etchells raced this weekend in competition for the Bedrock Trophy. Saturday greeted the class with sun and a twelve knot south easterly breeze. The first race started on time to the north east of the Bramble Bank; with many of the fleet starting towards the pin end of the line. The early leader was Rob Goddard’s Rocketman who led round the course to take the first win of the regatta closely followed by Colin being sailed by Will and David Heritage and Will Bedford. Race two was again in Rocketman’s favour with the Greig City Academy in Palaver coming a close second. And the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Youths in Sumo coming third. The third and final race of the day was sailing in slightly more breeze, the race was started under the U flag and resulted in three boats being disqualified for being over the start line within the 1 minute. Colin took the win with Sumo second and Palaver third. The results overnight was very close with the top two boats (Colin and Rocketman) on equal points. 

Sunday’s racing was delayed allowing the Cowes Torquay race powerboats pass through the Solent, there was a worry about not having enough breeze to race in but again a ten knot south easterly was present and allowed racing to get underway. The racecourse was set up nearer Hill Head. Colin continued from Sunday and won with Rocketman in second and Shaun Frohlich’s Exabyte in third. The second race of the day was won by the Greig City Academy who took advantage of a left shift on the first beat to round the windward mark in first and maintain the lead through the race. Colin came in second and Sumo in third. The third race of the day and the final race of the weekend was again won by the Greig City Academy; sailing well at the front of the fleet. Rocketman finished second with Colin third. This meant that Colin (9pts) won the event with Rocketman (10pts) beating the Greig City to second on countback. 

Thank you very much to the race team from the Royal London Yacht club and all the volunteers involved in the running of the event. The next event is the Ice Bucket on the 14th-15th of September. 

Full results

The International Etchells South Coast Championship 2019

Over the weekend 26/27th July, the 2019 Etchells South Coast Championships were held in Cowes and organised by the Royal Thames Yacht Club

Saturday morning’s racing started in a 12 to 14 knot breeze from the north and, while it was forecast to increase, that didn’t happen. Unfortunately as the wind was shifting so much, it took 45 minutes before the first start could actually happen, as the committee struggled to lay a fair line.

It was a day that the wind pressure was up and down by 4 knots with frequent 20 degree wind shifts that kept rolling over the race course under the clouds. So, heads out of the boat, and watching for the wind shifts is what counted on the day, and the first race was won appropriately by the Royal Thames Youth Sailing Team skippered by Ollie Grogono, before Matt Hannaby sailing Escape helmed by Julian Smith won the following two races and were the overnight leaders, with Rob Goddard’s Rocketman in second place and David Heritage’s family crew sailing Colin in third place.

Sunday brought a slightly more consistent breeze pressure, but still with the wind shifting with every cloud formation that moved through the Solent, and it was Rocketman’s turn to fly, taking a first and second in races four and five, moving them into first place overall. For the sixth and final race after a good start Rocketman seeing Escape sailing behind, but starting to move swiftly through the fleet, realised that for the second consecutive

Etchells Regatta a match race was called for. What resulted was Rocketman sailing back to cover Escape by closely tacking on them while sailing up the first beat, but in traditional symmetrical spinnaker match racing style, the advantage switched to the trailing boat on the down-wind leg as Escape forced Rocket Man away from the leeward gates, and while Escape rounded a boat length ahead, Rocketman took the opposite gate to regain the lead forcing Escape deeper into the pack, thereby giving Rocketman crew their first series win, with Colin taking the 6th and final race win with Sophie Heritage helming.

Eddie Warwick supplied the weekends beer, with Shaun Frolich providing Rum and Cake for the hungry sailors.

The International Etchells European Championship 2019

The International Etchells European Championship was hosted by the Royal London Yacht Club and took place over three days on the Solent. 17 boats entered including 4 youth boats and 7 Corinthian boats.

3 races took place on both Friday and Saturday in generally light to medium conditions from the North West; sea-state was determined by the tide with chop decreasing throughout the day. Boats scoring low points generally started well; managed the shifts (±25 degrees) and the leverage that brought against the fleet. Results in the middle of the fleet were very sporadic and even after 6 races (and 1 discard) 5 points separated 4th to 9th place, with the rest of the fleet close behind.

A particularly impressive Saturday was had by Ante Razmilovic’s Swedish Blue, winning all three races in less than stable conditions. The term Ante-Christ was used a number of times at the pub that night.

Despite this impressive performance everything was to play for on the final day that saw light and fickle wind from the East. 1st and 2nd was fought-out exclusively by Swedish Blue and Seamus McHugh’s K2. K2, the only continental boat (SUI 1406) in the fleet, managed to beat Swedish Blue (12-14 respectively) closely match racing on Sunday. Whilst Shaun Frohlich’s Exabyte secured 3rd after putting 4 boats between him and Rob Goddard’s Rocketman (who took 1st Corinthian) in the final race. Miles Jones jumped up past Hattie Roger’s Royal Lymington boat and Thea Crawshaw’s Royal Thames boat after a strong finish on Sunday and taking 1st youth boat overall.

The way the results are calculated in yacht fleet racing can lead to some interesting scenarios and the 2019 Etchells European Championship was a good example. After 6 races, with 5 to count, McHugh (K2) and Ante Razmilovic (Swedish Blue) each had 20 points. McHugh’s discard was a seventh place whereas Ante’s was a whopping 18. This meant that if McHugh scored eighth or worse in his last race, his score after discard would always be set at 27. So if Ante came eighth or worse, even though he might have been well ahead of McHugh, McHugh would be crowned European Champion. The only way Ante could win was to not only beat McHugh, but not have a position worse than 7. In the event they match raced each other in this all-important final race, and Ante came fourteenth leaving McHugh to claim the championship cup.

A huge thank you must go to the race committee that did very well to manage the racing despite the variable wind direction, and to the various owners and Jan who provided the beer, ice-cream and cake.

2019 International Etchells Saida Cup – 7th-8th June 2019

Sadly, the Saturday of this year’s Saida Cup, hosted by the Royal Thames Yacht Club, was cancelled as the tail end of a front brought strong winds to the Solent. The race committee sensibly made the decision to cancel Saturday’s racing on Friday, which gave competitors the chance to prepare for Sunday’s early start.

Despite Saturday’s lack of sailing teams from the RLYC’s Etchells academy made the journey over to the Island to be officially welcomed to the club and for drinks. Later they were joined by other Etchells sailors for dinner – a great evening was had by all. Sailors were greeted by a completely different picture on Sunday, with a high pressure bringing light winds of between 5-10 knots. Nonetheless, after an hour’s delay Race Officer Phil Hagen got racing underway, with 4 races scheduled.

The first race saw those who took to the left-hand side of the race course on the first beat finish at the front. The race was won by Peter Rogers (Highlife), who was pushed hard down the last run by Shaun Frohlic’s Exabyte. They were closely followed by Shamal sailed by the Royal Dart youth team and Grant Simmer on Man’s Best Friend.

Race two was a similar story – the west to east tide making the pin favoured, with those starting towards the pin also able to escape off to the favoured left-hand side. Rob Goddard’s Rocketman was launched off the pin, leading comfortably at the Winward Mark. However, by the finish, the speed of Grant Simmer’s team and the youth team from the Royal Lymington prevailed, with the pair taking first and second respectively and Goddard finishing in third.

Man’s Best Friend picked up where they left off in race 3, again winning the left-hand side of the course on the first upwind and stretching away for the win. They were followed by the crew of Joly Roger and Shamal.

The last race of day was considerably different from the first three of the day. The breeze built to a steady 10 knots and swung right. This increase in wind speed meant that the racing was especially close and hard fought. In familiar fashion Man’s Best Friend took the win, followed closely by Highlife and Ollie Grogono’s Royal Thames Youth team.

The win for Grant Simmer and his team was enough to secure the win of the event, with Peter Roger’s Highlife finishing second and the Royal Lymington team finishing third and first Youth and first Corinthian.

A special thanks to the race committee, all the volunteers and the Royal Thames Yacht Club for organising and running a great weekend in tough conditions.

Full results on