The Etchells Gertrude Cup was 4 days of intense racing with 12 races scheduled and, despite the predominantly high pressure sitting over the UK, was successfully completed. By the final day, 4 boats were in contention for overall victory.

Initially the regatta was reliant on sea breezes to get the racing under way, and somehow PRO Phil Hagan seemed to predict its arrival with remarkable accuracy, arranging for the fleet to be towed to the race course with no breeze in the Solent, only for it to arrive as the fleet did.

Day 1, in breezes of never more than 12 kts, saw the Royal London’s Mark Lees win the leader's Red Spinnaker. Lees used the strong ebb on the left-hand side of the course to good advantage with a first and a third in the 2-race day. However, the day wasn’t without incident as the strong ebb tide for one race changed the spreader mark into the windward mark, and only race leader Mark Lees spotted this resulting, as the fleet tried to pinch up to the “new” mark, in 3 boats ended up having to do penalty turns.

Day 2, after visiting yachtsman Pat Voss from the Royal Perth Yacht club easily won the first race, things didn’t go his way and it was the combined GBR/USA team skippered by Ted Blowers who won the Boat of the Day. The team's wind calls and precise gybing saw Blowers move through the pack to give them 3 podium positions out of the days 4 races. Unfortunately, this was not enough to give Blowers the coveted Red Spinnaker, as Lees had achieved consistently good results in all 4 races

Day 3 saw the visiting USA youth team win their second race of the series, but the day's stars were the Greig City Academy team helmed by Montel Fagan-Jordan, who scored 2 firsts and a second. Their 2nd first included a man overboard recovery, as just after rounding the bottom gate in first place one of the crew hiked too hard, and it was only the quick response of tactician Matt Reid pulling him in as he passed the stern of the boat that meant they only lost 2 places, but on the down-wind leg recovered their first place to win by less than half a boat length. The Series leader suffered gear failure but, with 2 discards now in place after 10 races, were able to maintain the leader's Red Spinnaker into the last day.

Day 4 - final day - saw at last a true gradient breeze and conditions more akin to the Solent - a South Westerly at 12 Kts that slowly built to 18 Its, variable cloud cover giving good wind shifts - a race officer's nightmare, yet Phil Hagen still managed to put on 3 fair races in the now more challenging conditions as the seas started to build. 4 teams could potentially win the event, but Lees needed a bad day to throw it away, and that he nearly did, but such was the overall quality and competitive nature of the fleet that none of the contenders could maintain 3 good race results together. Without doubt though, the top boat of the day was Annabelle Vose’s all-girl crew from the Royal Southern Yacht Club who scored only 9 points from the day's 3 races with 2 podium positions.

Overall winner was helm Mark Lees’ Royal London’s team skippered by Will Bedford, ahead of USA Youth team Blue, Sean Cornell. Cornell won the Youth’s and Corinthian Trophy, a prize he was delighted to take back to the States. Lees said in his acceptance speech that teams coming to Cowes from around the world make this a special event, both on and off the water.

Rob Goddard

Ainslie / Simmer and Scott racing Etchells in the Solent.

One of the great things about sailing is the old adage that you get to play on the same course as Tiger Woods. It’s an idea which most of us are aware of, the dream of getting on the course with the best. But unlike golf, in sailing it it really is true, as the Solent Etchells fleet will find out on June 23rd and 24th when one of the greatest collections of gold medals and Americas cup wins in history will settle themselves in an Etchells and do battle with the weekend warriors for the Royal Yacht Squadron's Sir Kenneth Preston trophy.

Among the fleet there have been a fair few boats called The Trio based on the fact that it was traditionally a three-man boat (now sailed by a lot of smaller crews 4-up) but it is hard to imagine a more successful trio than Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott and Grant Simmer who will make up this trio. Between them they have five Olympic Gold medals, one Silver, five Americas cup wins as either sailor or design coordinator and an astonishing eight Finn World Championships

The Trio will line up in perhaps the Solent’s most competitive one-design class, although it should be noted that Ainslie and Simmer have both finished on the podium at previous Etchells world Championships so it's not exactly all new to them.

For details on how to join the fleet or for charter options for Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy contact David Franks davidfranks80@gmail.com +44 7768 063868

Any time a boat gets to discard a second place in its winning scoreline, it suggests a walkover, but in the case of the 2018 British Etchells National Championship Lawrie Smith and his crew of Richard Parslow / Will Heritage and Gonçalo Ribeiro only took the championship on the last beat of the last race. In that race they had moved from well back in the fleet to eventual first place, snatching the title from Andy Beadsworth (Marco Pocci / Ben Cornish (sailing under the HKG sail number of Marco)) who for most of the last race had the destiny of the title in his own hands.

These two were head and shoulders above the rest of the 19 boat fleet, Smith finishing with six points, Beadsworth with eight while Peter Rogers / Neil Jaffa Harrison and Ben Cooper finished an extremely creditable third overall but with a rather distant 20 points in total.

Race one was sailed in a very light north westerly breeze with a strong cross tide from the east and the race was won by Tom Abrey/ Bruno van Dyck and Matt Reid. Unusually for the team on Jolly Roger however, this was the only time they saw the front all week and their regatta was challenging from the next race with an OCS leading them scoring a DFL in 19th.

Smith took second, Peter Rogers 3rd and defending National champion David Franks a solid 4th to kick off the defence of his British Championship title.

There is always a lot of great boat racing going on around the Solent, with battles taking place in a wide variety of classes, from big boats to small boats, and club racers to world champions. This coming May Bank Holiday will be no exception with 60 J-Boats battling it out in the J Cup from the Island Sailing Club, as well as the RORC fleet heading offshore to Plymouth and back.

Possibly the most competitive racing however will be in the Etchells class who will be competing for their British Open & National Championship, hosted by the Royal London YC. The entry list is stacked with awesome CVs and whoever wins will have to beat the very best. It’s also a very international regatta with competitors from Australia, Hong Kong and the USA flying in, with one crew coming down from Scotland as well.

On the basis of local knowledge and the form book a possible favourite is Lawrie Smith. Smith has been winning World Championships for 35 years, in his early days in the 505 and Fireball class where he regularly locked horns with current Etchells world champion Steve Benjamin. Smith was 2nd in the Miami Etchells series over the winter (Benjamin won!) has an excellent crew and is one of the finest helmsman in the world. Sailing an Etchells fast upwind is never easy but Smith squeezes out those last 2° of height all the time and is incredibly consistent. Smith has also previously won the Dragon World Championship and in a nice piece of symmetry current Dragon World Champion (and 2007 Etchells World Champion). Andy Beadsworth will be making his second appearance in the class this year as well.

The Etchells British Open & National Championship, hosted by the Royal London YC.

There is always a lot of great boat racing going on around the Solent, with battles taking place in a wide variety of classes, from big boats to small boats, and club racers to world champions. This coming May Bank Holiday will be no exception with 60 J-Boats battling it out in the J Cup from the Island Sailing Club, as well as the RORC fleet heading offshore to Plymouth and back.

Possibly the most competitive racing, however, will be in the Etchells class who will be competing for their British Open & National Championship, hosted by the Royal London YC. The entry list is stacked with awesome CVs and whoever wins will have to beat the very best. It’s also a very international regatta with competitors from Australia, Hong Kong and the USA flying in, with one crew coming down from Scotland as well. 

On the basis of local knowledge and the form book, a possible favourite is Lawrie Smith. Smith has been winning World Championships for 35 years, in his early days in the 505 and Fireball class where he regularly locked horns with current Etchells world champion Steve Benjamin. Smith was 2nd in the Miami Etchells series over the winter (Benjamin won!) has an excellent crew and is one of the finest helmsman in the world. Sailing an Etchells fast upwind is never easy but Smith squeezes out those last 2° of height all the time and is incredibly consistent. Smith has also previously won the Dragon World Championship and in a nice piece of symmetry current Dragon World Champion (and 2007 Etchells World Champion). Andy Beadsworth will be making his second appearance in the class this year as well. 

Gertrude CupOrganised by the Royal Thames Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Cowes Etchells Fleet.

James Badenach's team representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, has won the fourth edition of the Gertrude Cup, after holding off a strong challenge from the USA Youth Team, led by Connor Needham. Bruce Huber's team, representing the Royal Yacht Squadron, recovered from a show-stopping collision on the second day, to claim third. Two youth teams tied on points for fourth, with the Grieg City Academy YC , led by Montel Fagan-Jordan, winning on countback, from the Royal London Yacht Club Youth Team, led by Ted Blowers.

Final Results

Two races were held on the final day of the Gertrude Cup, taking the series tally to thirteen. Pewter skies with rain and sea fog, reduced visibility and air temperature, but did not dent the enthusiasm of the eleven international teams. A southwesterly gradient breeze built during the day, peaking at 20 knots, with the wind oscillating 20 degrees, producing a shifty race course in the Central Solent. Once again, the Royal Thames Race Management Team, led by PRO Phil Lawerence, produced windward leeward courses with slide rule precision, taking into account a strong tidal flow. Two teams shared top performance of the day. Bill Steele's team representing the Royal Perth Yacht Club, and Rob Tyrwhitt-Drake's team, representing the Royal Ocean Racing Club, both scored podium results.