Howth's Bedrock skippered by Richard Burrows was the sole Irish Etchells competing at a star studded Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy fleet at the Royal Yacht Squadron at the weekend. The HYC boat finished 19th from 28 in a fleet that included former Volvo Round the World racer Lawrie Smith. The regatta attracted one of the largest fleets of Etchells seen in the Solent for many years. Bolstered by the forthcoming 2016 Etchells World Championship, to be held in the Solent 31 August – 10 September.
The Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy was first competed for in 1995, after Sir Kenneth Preston, who had led the British sailing team in the 1960 Olympics, presented it to the Royal Yacht Squadron shortly prior to his death. Sir Kenneth wished that the trophy be competed for by a deserving one design fleet that had the spirit of one design and involves young sailors. It is a feather in the cap for the Cowes Etchells fleet to have retained it for so many years.
28 teams with sailors from Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong and the United States of America, raced for the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy. Three Royal London Etchells Youth Academy Teams took part, skippered by Anna Watkins, Owen Bannerman and Martin Evans.
The eight race programme over three days produced thrilling racing, with 11 teams achieving podium results. Peter Duncan was the winner of the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy, Ante Razmilovic was second with Lawrie Smith third.
Commodore of the America Yacht Club, Peter Duncan and Tom Blackwell have campaigned Etchells for many years with top finishes including second, third, fourth, and fifth in world championships. Both grew up sailing in the JAYC (Junior American Yacht Club) program. Jud Smith, a Sonar, Mumm30 and Etchells World Champion, has been sailing with the team since 2013.
“We found the racing very tight with a solid mix of local and visitors trying to get ready for the Worlds.” commented Peter Duncan. “Throughout the regatta we had a lot of boats arriving at the weather mark together and there were some exciting leeward gate roundings. Cowes is a very interesting place to sail, as you not only have to be on your toes for shifts in the breeze, the current has to minded at all times. We saw a bit of everything this past weekend, which made it a great warm up event to the Worlds. In 2007 and since, we have not sailed in the breeze direction we had on Saturday so that was good to experience.
Our stay as always in Cowes was wonderful as there are so many fun places to go. The Royal Yacht Squadron did an outstanding job running the races in the varied conditions and especially setting up the starting lines. As always, David Franks and team did a wonderful job on the social side of the event with the dinner event at RYS being awesome. Not too many of us from overseas have ever been there so what a treat.”
David Franks, Cowes Etchells fleet captain. "We have been delighted that the interest in the Cowes Etchells Fleet continues to grow."
David Franks, the Cowes Etchells fleet captain commented: "We have been delighted that the interest in the Cowes Etchells Fleet continues to grow with record numbers competing for the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy. This is the 22nd year that this Trophy has been awarded by the Royal Yacht Squadron; they ran eight excellent races and provided a superb supper on the Platform in the Castle for 94 competitors and their guests. Wonderful racing; wonderful food."
The Saida Cup 11-12 June, organised by the Royal Thames Yacht Club, is the next event in a busy season for the Cowes Etchells Fleet. The Etchells UK National Championship, organised by the Royal London Yacht Club, from 24-26 June, is an Etchells World Championship qualifying event.
Full results of the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy are downloadable below.