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.

Gertrude CupOrganised by the Royal Thames Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Cowes Etchells Fleet. Etchells teams from yacht clubs from around the World have been invited to Cowes, to compete for the Royal Thames Yacht Club's Gertrude Cup. The invitational event for the Etchells Class has attracted teams representing yacht clubs from Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Malta, Nigeria, and the United States of America. The invitational regatta features five days of exciting racing, and a vibrant social programme. The regatta has great emphasis on introducing young talented sailors into the Cowes Etchells Fleet.

A fleet of equally matched Etchells is provided, each crew may sail a different hull each day to ensure fairness. Fully rigged, with new matching sails and prepared, ready to race, by the Cowes Etchells Fleet. The helm must be a member of the invited club, but there are no other crew restrictions other than a weight limit. The intention is to run thirteen races with up to four races per day.

Thanks to the generosity and support of The Royal London Yacht Club, investment bank LionTree, and volunteers within the Etchells Class Association, young, talented sailors who aspire to race one design keelboats at the highest level are invited to apply for access to a fully race-prepared Etchells keelboat for the Cowes Etchells Fleet 2017 racing season.

Success at the trials means that the selected teams can benefit from the use of their own boat and participate in a full programme of competitive racing with entry fees and boat-yard costs covered by the class.

In the past 5 years, over 230 youths have competed in an Etchells in Cowes, with a significant number experiencing top level Etchells racing in Newport, USA, Hong Kong, Miami, Italy and Australia.

Entries are now being accepted for the Youth Trials to be held in Cowes on 1-2 April 2017.

Cowes Etchells youth sailors once again notched up superb results in a National Match Racing Championship last weekend. Although we don’t match race Etchells in Cowes, the skills learnt in the super competitive Etchells fleet transfer easily into match racing. For 4 years now, Etchells match racers have won World, European and National match racing titles.

Last weekend was no exception: Etchells sailors dominated the RYA British Match Racing Championships with Mark Lees, Toby Mumford, James Dodd ,Toby Yeabsley and Matt Hallam making-up the winning squad.

Ten other Etchells sailors were also well-placed in the event: Quintin Bes-Green, Kate Deveraux, Fiona Hampshire, Ali Hinds, Honor Fell,Tom Williams, Jack Preece, Jack Davies Hannah Peters, and Jonty Cook

Etchells youth sailors, we salute you! WELL DONE !!