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Royal Cork Yacht Club ex-pat Jamie McWilliam has finished ninth overall, just one place behind America's Cup legend John Bertrand at the 2020 Etchells Victoria Championships in Australia.

Big boat sailor McWilliam, a regular visitor to Ireland in his Ker 40 Signal 8 last competed here at Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July 2019.

Once a thriving one design in Ireland, especially at Howth, where the 2010 World Championships was staged, the Irish Etchells fleet has since died away.

The reigning Etchells World Champions, Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Richie Allanson secured the 2020 Victorian title with a race to spare. After placing second and sixth in the first two races of the day, they headed back to the Royal Brighton Yacht Club to put Havoc back on her trailer for the journey to Sydney.

Finishing in second place overall was Magpie, which is crewed by Graeme Taylor, James Mayo, and Tom Slingsby. They were three points astern of the leaders in the end, whose worst result for the regatta was a sixth place. Interestingly, Magpie's worst was a fourth, it is just that they did not have the string of bullets (firsts) to match Havoc. Chris Hampton, Charlie Cumbley, and Jamie Lea on Tango finished in third place, some nine points further back. Cumbley and Lea also travelled the farthest to be part of it all, from the UK, with others coming from Thailand, and the East Coast of Australia to be part of this vibrant class.

John Bertrand had his new Triad 2020 out racing with Grant Crowle in for Noel Drennan, and Jake Lilley on the bow. They secured two individual race wins, including the last of the nice race series, to finish in eighth place overall, which shows you just how tough it is at this end of the fleet. "Long time in between drinks in this fleet at the moment", was how Bertrand put it. "It is also a good thing too."

"It is all building up to the World Championship in Fremantle, it is clear that the fleet is getting very focussed. Magpie just returned from winning the Mid-Winters in Miami, and then they're second here in this extremely intense racing. It all shows the calibre of the fleet here in Australia. The class is healthy and the top One Design tactical racing in the country. It is just incredible to be involved and the sailors and sailing is impressive, particularly the young people coming through, and it is terrific for our sport on the whole."

Reflecting on the new shorter race format, PRO Ross Wilson said, "I was a little bit concerned when we discussed with the organisers a few weeks ago, as to whether it would work. However, the feedback has been really positive. We targeted 45 minutes, and had all the races fall between 41 and 50, with the majority at 45 to 46. I am not sure if it would work with fleets over 35 boats, as you need to compensate for the longer start line, but this was brilliant for our fleet of 25 here."

Final top ten
1. Iain Murray / Richard Allanson / Colin Beashel, 19 points
2. Graeme Taylor / James Mayo / Tom Slingsby, 22
3. Chris Hampton / Charlie Cumbley / Jamie Lea, 31
4. Mark Thornburrow / Alexander Conway / Mike Huang / Malcolm Page, 38
5. David Clark / Raymond Smith / Ben O'Brien, 44
6. Kirwan Robb / Rodney Muller / Brett Taylor, 46
7. Jeanne-Claude Strong / Kate Devereux / Seve Jarvin / Troy Tindal, 48
8. John Bertrand / Jake Lilley / Grant Crowle, 51
9. Jamie Mcwilliam / Willy Roberts / Gray Gibson, 73
10. Damien King / Jeremy O'Connell / Eliza Solly / Tom Klemens, 79

Published in Etchells
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Glandore Harbour Yacht Club in West Cork has won the 2018 Open Etchells European Championships thanks to its member Lawrie Smith with Gonçalo Ribeiro, Ella Bennett and Pedro Andrade.

The 2018 Corinthian European Etchells Champion is a team from the Royal London YC Etchells Youth Academy, skippered by Will Bedford, racing Shamal with Fraser Woodley, Nik Froud, and Henry Collison.

During the eight races, held in a variety of conditions, three teams led during the regatta. Peter Duncan won the first two races, but Lawrie Smith fought back, and was top of the leaderboard after six races. Going into the last race, Ante Razmilovic was leading by a single point, with all three teams vying for the European title.

Lawrie Smith won the 2018 Open Etchells European Champion in the very last race, after strong competition from Ante Razmilovic's Swedish Blue (YCCS), and American skipper Peter Duncan, racing Mans Best Friend, which were second and third respectively. On the last run in the final race, Lawrie Smith team came from behind to pass both Swedish Blue and Mans Best Friend to secure the championship by a single point.

“Thank you to the Royal London and all of the race management team, we have had great racing,” commented Lawrie Smith, “To all my team well done, and sorry about the last run Ante, he was winning the regatta until then but he didn't!”

“A high level of competition with top sailors, especially from Peter Duncan and Ante Razmilovic, who pushed us all the way, ” commented Pedro Andrade tactician for Lawrie Smith. “We had a shocker in Race 7, and in Race 8 we didn't have a good start, so it wasn't looking good. On the last run, we decided to stay on the starboard gybe, and the competition gybed away from us. The wind was dropping, and we saw a bit of a pressure from the left with a favourable shift. We were patient, held our nerve, and it did pay. We managed to sail around them, after rounding the bottom gate, we were with the tide and pulled away for the beat to the finish.”

Will Bedford's team have all come through the Royal London YC Etchells Youth Academy, and in a strong field of experienced Etchells sailors, topped the Corinthian ranking for the 2018 Etchells European Championship. “The Royal London Etchells Youth Academy is a great programme and you are sailing against great people, and we are privileged to be here.” commented Will Bedford.

Runner up in the Corinthian Class was Rob Goddard's Stampede (RYA/CCYC) and in third place was Maarten Jamin's El Toro (WSV Hoorn).

Congratulations should go to all the teams who made the podium in a highly competitive fleet, including Chris Hampton (Royal Brighton Yacht Club) who scored a 6-1-2 on the last day to take fourth in the Open Division. Also making the podium: Marci Pocci (Royal Hong Kong YC), Graham Sunderland (Royal London YC), Peter Rogers (Royal Lymington YC), and Shaun Frohlich (Royal Southern YC).

Published in Etchells
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The standard and well-worn Etchells 22 which Bill Trafford of Alchemy Marine in County Cork transformed into an immaculate fast weekend cruiser has been awarded first prize in the Spirit of Tradition category in the International Classic Boat Awards 2018 in London this week writes W M Nixon.

As regular readers of Afloat.ie will be well aware, Bill really does work the full magic of total alchemy at his workshop hidden away near Skenakilla Crossroads in the heart of the countryside of North Cork. A very ordinary standard white Etchells 22 went into the shed, yet within a year, an immaculate dark blue classic cruiser -complete with a perfect small coachroof of appropriate style and immaculate joinerywork - had emerged back into the outside world.

guapa winner2Work in progress. Modifications under way in the Alchemy Marine worskshop to the Etchells 22 hull in the background, while in the foreground is the superbly-crafted new coachroof. Photo: W M Nixon

Among those impressed by the finished job was classic shipwright Johnny Smullen, originally of Dun Laoghaire but now California-based. He has done very highly-regarded specialist work there for America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner’s classic collection, and he reckoned that the Trafford transformation was the ultimate Etchells conversion.

The re-born vessel’s elegance was emphasized by a lenthgthened counter, and her very complete overall style was finished by a beautiful suit of sails whose creation was personally overseen by Des McWilliam of UK Sailmakers of Crosshaven.

Des was one of many who were very impressed by the experience of sailing on the boat, which in her new form has been named Guapa, the Spanish for beautiful. And apparently there was a significant supportive input from Afloat.ie readers who voted for Guapa in the Classic Boat online poll, to whom Bill Trafford passes on his thanks. For at this week’s international gathering of Classic Boat enthusiasts in the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London, Guapa was proclaimed as clear overall winner of the Spirit of Tradition (under 40ft) division.

guapa winner3A masterpiece deserving international acclaim. Bill Trafford with the re-born Guapa outside his North Cork workshop

Published in Historic Boats
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#NorthSails - As previously reported, North Sails celebrated a record-smashing year for offshore yachting titans competing with its 3Di performance sails.

But clients of the sailmaker — with a longstanding base in Myrtleville, Co Cork — also had a big year across the One Design classes around the globe.

In the Etchells class, Stella Blue helmed by Steve Benjamin won the 2017 Worlds in San Francisco at an event where fellow North Sails clients Senet Bischoff and KGB took the Corinthian title and finished third overall.

Elsewhere, in Toronto, Rossi Milev’s Clear Air sailed into first place at the J/24 Worlds, the same event where Lizzy McDowell’s U25 Howth Yacht Club team Scandal finished a respectable 42nd amid the mammoth international field.

Fellow Howth sailor Laura Dillon on Cloud finished 33rd in the Dragon World Championships in Cascais last June, which saw North Sails powering clients into first (Provezza Dragon, Andy Beadsworth), third (Alfie, Lawrie Smith), fourth (Desert Eagle, Hendrik Witzmann), fifth (Rocknrolla, Dmitry Samokhin), ninth (Louise, Grant Gordon) and 10th (Jeanie, Jens Rathsack) places overall.

And Spanish sailor María Perelló, using North Sails’ Radial R2, won the girls division at the Optimist Worlds in Thailand last July, where Ireland enjoyed had a strong showing in team racing.

North Sails is the world’s leading sailmaker for One Design classes with more national, world and Olympic class victories than all other sailmakers combined.

Published in North Sails Ireland

The vintage Etchells 22 transformed into a classic small cruiser last year by Bill Trafford of Alchemy Marine for a Crosshaven owner has been short-listed for an international award writes W M Nixon.

The superbly-finished Guapa – Spanish for “beautiful” – still sails like an Etchells. But she now looks like a very high quality miniature Swedish Skerries cruiser, with an exquisitely-crafted coachroof which can provide weekend cruising accommodation, although elegant and effortless daysailing is Guapa’s true forte.

With her teak-laid decks and appropriately classic-style McWilliam Sails, Guapa has impressed a wide range of people with vintage yacht experience, including America’s Cup superstar Dennis Conner’s classic yacht specialist Johnny Smullen, who has described her as “an amazing bit of work”.

etchells22 guapa2Halfway stage of the transformation which created Guapa. The hull has been lengthened, the sheerline has been accentuated with an increase in freeboard, and the new coachroof has been built “to Chippendale standards”. Photo: W M Nixon

Now Guapa has been short-listed for the latest annual round of awards by the international publication Classic Boat, and she’s one of the final three that have reached the run-off in the Spirit of Tradition Under 40ft category.

All details on voting are here

We would guess that many readers will want to give Guapa and Bill Trafford their support, judging by the favourable response to our stories on Afloat.ie charting the complete transformation of this formerly well-worn Etchells 22.

Meanwhile, in his workshop near Skenakilla Crossroads in the rural heartlands of County Cork, Bill is busy on a new project - the complete transformation of an old counter-sterned Kim Holman-designed Elizabethan 29 into a new take on the Alan Buchanan-designed transom-sterned Colleen Class, which was built in Kinsale around 1950. It’s an utterly intriguing project - more of it on Afloat.ie in the very near future.

etchells22 guapa3Guapa – “a delight to sail, and a joy to be aboard”.

Published in Etchells
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Royal Cork Yacht Club's Jamie McWilliam has won Hong Kong's Around the Island Race.

It was a day of varied conditions for the 2017 Turkish Airlines Around the Island Race with everything from 2 to 28kts of easterly breeze being reported across the race track. Approximately 1,400 people on 230 boats and even two lifejacket-- clad dogs took part in this year's 26nm circumnavigation.

The big winners of the day were ex-pat Jamie McWilliam now based in Hon Kong with his crew Simon Macdonald and Peter Austin onboard the EtchellsShrub, they crossed the finish line at 14h 19m 07s to take the overall win with a corrected time of 4h 59m 02s.

It took two start lines located off of Causeway Bay and Hung Hom and 22 consecutive starts to get the fleet away. There were boat breaking conditions right off of the start with the first casualty of the day headed back to the club by 0830hrs due to a broken mast and boom. The fleet tacked their way up the starboard side of the Hong Kong Harbour course, avoiding exclusion zones and Hong Kong's busy marine traffic and through Lei Yue Mun gap.

Once the fleet reached Shek O rock they met with big swells of 2 to 3m, which proved difficult for some of the smaller fleets. Persevering on was the first Para athlete to compete in the Around the Island Race; Foo Yuen-Wai representing Sailability Hong Kong on board a 2.4mR, the smallest boat in the fleet The Kaplan, not only is Foo the first Para athlete to compete, he is also the first one to sail single- handed. Foo completed the race and sailed across the line at 16h 11m 24s.

Another first was Sean Law on board S M Kwan and Thomas Wong's Sunfast 3600 Ding Dong Sean who is just 77 days old did his first Around the Island Race with mother and father Sally and Dominick.

Kites were hoisted after the fleet rounded D'Aguilar point with gusts up to 28kts. There were a few exciting broaches and resulting in a few more retirements. However, with the large swell running along the Sheung Sze Mun channel, some boats were fully launched and able to surf in on the run towards Stanley Gate.

The swell tapered off as did the breeze, as the fleet approached Round Island. A park up ensued off the Cyberport Gate, where supporting sponsors St. James's Place were waiting to greet the fleet on a spectator yacht. Once the fleet rounded Green Island the breeze increased a little but there were still a few holes along the harbor. First to make the circumnavigation was Bruce Anson and Wei Jie's Discover Sail Asia an RC44 with an elapsed time of 4h 19m 21s.

Published in Etchells
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Another top result for Royal Cork's Mark Mansfield in the Etchells Class this week as he took a podium in Cowes Week, racing as tactician,with Robert Drake.

Counting three race wins in the 7 race series they finished with a final race win on Saturday. Robert Elliott won the regatta with four race wins, with Stuart Childerley, three times Etchells World Champion, as tactician.

This one design fleet result comes hot on the heels of two other good one design results very recently for Mansfield. As Afloat.ie previously reported here, the four time Olympian was tactician on John Smart's J109 Jukebox which won the Tattinger J109 regatta in Yarmouth and taking a top–ten result as tactician with Mike Budd in the Dragon Edinburgh Cup.

As also reported previously,  Mansfield also won the ICRA class one championships for the third consecutive time last June as tactician on John Maybury's Joker 2, and then went on to win the highly competitive Class 1 event on Joker 2 at Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July. This win also won Joker Two, the regatta's boat of the week prize.

Next up for Mansfield is a 'chill–out week' at Calves Week in Schull, West Cork this week followed by the Half Ton Classics Regatta in Kinsale next Sunday as tactician aboard Mike and Richie Evans Big Picture from Howth Yacht Club.

Published in Etchells
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Cork sailor Mark Mansfield has just finished the Tattinger Regatta on the Isle of Wight as tactician on John Smart's J109 Jukebox where the team won the J109 Class and the overall regatta with straight wins.

Mansfield, a distinguished Olympic sailor, with four appearances for Ireland in the Star keelboat, has carved a niche for himself of late in the J109 design. Sailing with Smart, he also won the UK's Warsash Spring Championships in April on Jukebox, as Afloat.ie reported at the time here.

Of course, as regular Afloat.ie readers will know, this latest UK result come on the heels of two other J109 wins in Ireland this season. Mansfield, sailing with John Maybury, on Joker II, won the ICRA class one national title in June, for the third consecutive year, earning Maybury a Sailor of the Month award into the bargain.

This month at Dun Laoghaire Regatta Joker won her fourth consecutive win in that event to also give her boat of the regatta. Mansfield sailed in all four of these J109 wins as tactician and mainsheet hand.

The Royal Cork ace, who competed at the Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Cowes last week is back there today for the Etchells 22 Gertrude Cup, followed by Cowes Week in the Etchells Class too. A busy man.

Published in Etchells
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Bill Trafford, Ireland’s boatbuilding sorcerer who beavers away in a shed near Skenakilla Crossroads in North County Cork, is already hatching new magic as onlookers continue to be entranced by his Super Etchells 22 Guapa currently making her debut on Cork Harbour writes W M Nixon.

This extraordinary project has already attracted several potential customers with their own ideas on re-configuring standard glassfibre boats. But Bill himself reckons that after an Etchells 22, a useful area for exploration might be found with the former Olympic class, the 26.75ft LOA Soling, which already comes with quite a pretty sheerline, and would only need a classic counter (and of course a teak laid deck and an elegant little cabin-top) to transform her into a very special 30-footer.

etchells 22 classic2With a new counter stern inspired by the transom of the Friendship sloop of Maine, this is an Etchells 22 with a difference

etchells 22 classic3Amidships, the Etchells 22 seems purest Scandinavian in concept

There’s no doubt that the Soling has a long-lasting hull, and one in reasonable order would respond very well to the Skenakilla treatment. But I think I’d pass on what used to be a Soling, which we spotted a couple of years ago when cruising the Hebrides.

This boat is to be found – or at least used to be found – abandoned at Port Ellen on Islay. The conversion to her presumably dates from the days of short-handed Round Britain & Ireland Races and other such ventures. Someone had taken a standard Soling, and stuck a sort of cabin on the forward end of the cockpit, and then for stowage space had put a box of sorts on the afterdeck.

The result, it could be argued, was a small centre-cockpit offshore racer. Somehow, she ended up on Islay. The concept is not quite what Bill Trafford has in mind. But it certainly proves that the Soling has considerable scope for innovation and re-configuration.

soling cruiser4Once upon a time, this was an Olympic Soling…Photo: W M Nixon

olympic soling5....and this is how she looked originally

Published in Etchells

As Johnny Smullen, boatbuilder to America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner has put it, the transformation job on a tired old Etchells 22 is simply amazing writes W M Nixon

The well-worn white hull of a standard Etchells 22 went into Bill Trafford's shed near Skenakilla Crossroads in March last year. And this week, the gorgeous dark blue cruising sloop Guapa (it’s Spanish for beautiful) emerged. See our April progress report here.

etchells22 cruiser2Elegance is the hallmark

Next Wednesday she’ll be arriving in Crosshaven for her mast to be stepped and new sails fitted from Des McWilliam. But the boat is so utterly transformed, with judiciously-raised topsides and an extremely elegant Scandinavian-style coachroof and comfortable accommodation within, that Bill naturally wondered if his calculations as to the new location of the waterline were accurate.

Indeed, like every boat-transformer, he wondered if she’d float. So rather than give her a totally-untested debut at Crosshaven, Guapa was quietly towed up the road to Doneraile, where the equipe stopped outside the Townhouse Tea Room for some sustenance, as Bill’s wife works there (and it’s Georgina Campbell-recommended).

etchells22 cruiser2Quick sustenance stop as viewed from the Townhouse tea Room in Donraile

Then it was on up the road to Adare and down to Askeaton off the Shannon Estuary, where Cyril Ryan at his boatyard had the crane ready, and Guapa had her first splash in complete privacy. No leaks. And she floated perfectly on her marks. All being well, next Wednesday in Crosshaven, you’re in for a treat.

etchells22 cruiser2At Askeaton, Guapa floats to her marks

Published in Etchells
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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