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Some boats are Classics from birth, others acquire Classic status over time, and there are others beyond that again which have had imaginative things done to them in order to confer a new Classic status writes W M Nixon.

Back on February 11th, we ran a Sailing on Saturdays blog about the creative and energetic boat-builders who can be found in Ireland when you move outside the self-regarding bubble which is Dublin. One who particularly captured the spirit was Bill Trafford, who works from a shed near Skenakilla Crossroads somewhere between Mitchelstown and Mallow in North Cork.

etchells classic2They’ve been busy in Skenakilla – this is how it all looked two months ago Photo W M Nixon

Bill is doing things to an old Etchells 22 which fairly takes the breath away. For although there are those who would argue that this Skip Etchells-designed slim racing machine of 1966 vintage is something of a Classic anyway, Bill has done things to this particular example to move her into a completely new sector of the Classic Yacht movement.

He has raised the topsides by small but varying amounts to give a more elegant sheer. In doing this, he has provided the most perfect teak-laid deck, with a very elegant little Scandinavian-style coachroof set neatly in the middle. And he has provided a comfortable cockpit through extending her stern, which now finishes in a sophisticated interpretation of the Friendship Sloops’ unique counter transom to be found in Maine.

Bill Trafford has form in this sort of thing, as he won international awards for his transformation of a Elizabethan 23 into a lovely little fractional-rigged sloop with mostly day-sailing in mind. He prefers his boats to be finished in a classy and distinctive dark blue, and since we were last in Skenakilla, the new boat has had this treatment, and lovely she looks too.

etchells classic2The new deck is such a masterpiece that it should be hung on the wall as an exhibit in a spacious art gallery. Photo: Bill Trafford

In fact, there’s only one word for it, and it was provided by Johnny Smullen, shipwright to Dennis Conner, Mr America’s Cup. We were exchanging photos a week or so ago when I was putting together a piece about the Golden Jubilee of the Junior Section in the National YC, of which Johnny is a graduate. I slipped in that header photo of the Skenkilla Etchells 22 knowing that The Dennis has been an Etchells ace in his day. The response from Johnny Smullen was prompt: “That Etchells is amazing!”

etchells classic2It may be sometimes overused, but “Amazing!” really is the only appropriate reaction. Photo: Bill Trafford

Published in Historic Boats
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There is really no reasonable comparison between Ireland’s eastern and western seaboards writes W M Nixon. The east coast is quite densely populated, and while it has some areas of impressive scenery, in general it lacks the majestic inlets and islands which make sailing the Atlantic seaboard such a joy. That said, there’s no getting away from the fact that, taken overall, the east coast leads in economic activity, and at the very least there’s no doubting it has much less rain.

But when the rain in the west clears to reveal the coastline in all its glory, the extra precipitation seems a small price to pay for such visual natural abundance. And then too, while there are fewer people, they’re all so much larger than life, and bursting with innovative and entertaining ideas, that you’re inclined to think one western person is worth a dozen easterners.

However, those of us living and doing most of our sailing on the humdrum old east coast have one inescapable and total advantage over those in the west. When our east coast life gets too stressed and samey, we can escape for a while to the big country, fresh air and crazy attitudes of the west.

If you live in the west, you simply can’t genuinely experience this moment of release. But on the east coast, if life gets tedious, all that is necessary is head west for a day or two. The moment you cross the River Shannon, the spirits lift, and as you crest the watershed between the Shannon and Galway Bay, the big generous country of the west is rising on the horizon, and all is much better with the world.

In the west, too, they operate on a different time scale. And they do it in a different time zone. Until the railways of the 19th Century made some national co-ordination of time essential, local time meant that the recognised noon was later the further west you moved. As is only natural, Galway was twenty minutes later than Dublin. It was only with the exigencies of the Great War in 1916 that an Official Act was passed making uniform time-keeping a legal requirement. Oddly enough, no-one seems to have discussed what effect this draconian measure might have had in provoking the outbreak of the Easter Rising in 1916. Be that as it may, all we know for now is that in Galway, they still operate on a local time zone which is at least twenty minutes later than everyone else’s time, and is probably nearer half an hour.

Galway hooker connemara 2Galway hookers racing hard off the Connemara coast. This is the popular image of sailing in the west, but while vivid and true, the complete story of western sailing is much broader. Photo Paul Harris

This became apparent last week when I wheeled into the car park at Galway Bay Sailing Club to give a performance of the current illustrated warblefest, which is about Ireland’s unique relationship with gaff rig and how it has emerged that Irish sailors led the switchover to Bermudan. The details of that will have to wait for another blog, but on this particular night, the immediate concern – with less than a quarter of an hour to go to the advertised start time – was that there just one other car in the car park, and that was Vice Commodore John Murphy, who was there a minute earlier to open the place up for the night.

“Oh Jaysus, Nixon” thought I, “you’ve bombed tonight, there’s not going to be a soul here.” But there wasn’t a moment to brood on the prospect of a showbiz flop, for I was with Pierce Purcell the mover and shaker of the west, and he wanted to show me the almost-finished refurb job they’ve been doing on the ground floor setup in the clubhouse, where they’ve managed to greatly enlarge the floor-space and rationalise its use for a state-of-the art changing room and multiple-use room and boat and equipment store setup.

You know the feeling you get when you’re looking at a job which is going very well indeed. It’s heartening. The re-furb in GBSC is precisely that. It’s being overseen by members Pat and Emer Irwin - he’s the Project Manager and she’s the Architect – and is being done with exemplary efficiency, on time and within a budget of only €160,000, which is the best value in building work I’ve ever seen anywhere.

Galway Bay Sailing Club 3Galway Bay SC is nearing the completion of a clever refurbishment project which is within time, within budget, and excellent value. Photo Pierce Purcell

We emerged much encouraged from seeing all this to be further cheered by the fact the club was warming up with its famous big stove in the middle of the bar getting into its stride, and the place filling up with people from near and far. For of course I’d temporarily forgotten that Galway’s in a different time zone and it wouldn’t be until around 8.30pm that we’d have some idea of the real turnout, and how effective it might be for the yellow welly collection. This is an idea imported from Poolbeg Y & BC which provides the most painless way of raising funds for the lifeboats. You just provide one yellow RNLI seaboot and request the audience to see how many €5 notes they can get into it. Usually it concludes with some worthwhile figure inevitably ending in either zero or five, but Galway being Galway, the night concluded with the boot yielded up a sum ending with six euro and eight cents……

The show became something we all had to go through with, just in order to justify being there, so it went ahead and finally got to its meandering conclusion. Then the lights went up to reveal even more people had arrived. Pierce Purcell had certainly done his stuff in the phonecall chivvying department, for despite all your modern means of instant total-cover communication, the personal phone call seems to be more important than ever, and the photo below gives some indication of the coverage he achieved, while also hinting at the conviviality of an evening in which a shared love of boats and sailing and a good club atmosphere completely obliterated any feeling of it still being winter outside.

west coast sailors 4Western gathering. In Galway Bay SC are (back row, left to right) Simon McGibney (Commodore ICRA & ISA Board Member), John Leech (Commodore, Lough Derg YC),’s W M Nixon, Adrian McConnell (Royal Western YC, Kilrush), Peter Fernie (Rear Commodore Irish Cruising Club) and Richard Glynn (Commodore, Royal Western of Ireland YC). Front row left to right Elaine O’Mahony, (outgoing Hon Sec Foynes YC, 2016 Volvo ISA Training Centre of the Year), Cormac McDonnacha (Chairman, WIORA Week), and Gary Allen, outgoing Commodore GBSC. Photo: Pierce Purcell

It was good to talk again with Barry Martin of Galway who made such an impact as bo’sun on the Asgard II many years ago that he found himself being recruited into the same role for both the much larger Britsh sail training schooners Winston Churchill and Malcolm Millar, a job in which he was so successful that he ended his sail training career as a senior officer on the Churchill.

There too were Jim Grealish and Barry Heskin, against whom we used to race inshore and offshore in the days when we each had boats around the 35ft size, boats of very different type yet rating notably similar, so if the Morrisssey-Grealish-Heskin squad appeared on the starting line with Joggernaut, aboard Witchcraft of Howth we knew we were into a boat-for-boat battle in which no quarter would be given, yet everyone would be the best of friends afterwards.

But if there was ample opportunity in GBSC for memories of good times past, equally there was plenty of discussion of the here and now, and it was fascinating to meet up with Dan Mill who runs the busy boatyard in the industrial estate beside Galway Docks. Dan’s story is such that we’ll be developing it into a complete blog in due course, sufficient to say at the moment that his links to Ireland are extraordinarily complex, for although he was born in England, at the age of three his parents together with another family set off to sail to New Zealand from Lymington in the then-bermudan-rigged 43ft Tyrrell ketch Maybird, and Maybird of course is now back in Ireland fully restored as a gaff ketch, and well-known in the ownership of Darryl Hughes.

Maybird Bermudan ketch 5Maybird as a Bermudan ketch. It was under this rig that Dan Mill sailed on her from England to New Zealand while still a child

As for young Dan, growing up in New Zealand he naturally moved into boat-building in what is probably the best boat-building school in the world, the New Zealand marine industry. But then Mna na hEireann took a hand in his life-path.

It would be difficult to overestimate the influence that the charms of the Women of Ireland have had on the development of a small yet top-level boat-building industry in this country. But there’s something about marine craftsmen and Irish women which gets them together and entices the craftsmen to settle in Ireland despite the fact that, let’s face it, anyone trying to produce such top quality work here is ploughing a lonely furrow a long way from the great centres of the specialist industry, such as the Solent district, parts of the Baltic, certain places in Brittany, and particularly New Zealand.

Yet the women get them, and they get them home to Ireland, and they keep them. Thus we have the likes of Dan Mill in Galway, Steve Morris in Kilrush, and Bill Trafford in the hidden depths of the country near Mitchellstown, all three of them trying to ensure work of the highest quality in a country where “Ah sure, ’twill do” is sometimes the defining motto in woodwork.

Having arrived in Galway, Dan Mill found himself within the orbit of the formidable John Killeen, with whom all ideas are possible, and somehow they found themselves setting out to build a cruising version of an Open 60.

Nimmo yacht construction 6The galley area in Nimmo under construction

Nimmo Yacht table 7Beauty in detail – Dan Mill’s craftsmanship in evidence on a table for Nimmo.

In the end she became a very one-off 68-footer named Nimmo in honour of the great Scottish harbour engineer Alexander Nimmo, who is one of John’s heroes. When she was eventually finished after four years with Dan being responsible for virtually every bit of skilled work in her complex construction and superb finish, he was exhausted, but his reputation in Galway was well established at a very high level, and he’s now the man to go to with boat maintenance needs and problems. He’s not above undertaking a mid-level job such as putting a new deck and coachroof on an older fibreglass hull, but as for launching another project on the Nimmo scale, that would require some thinking about.

Launching day Nimmo 8Launching day for Nimmo, built in a very basic shed in Galway
Dan Mill 9Dan Mill this week in the boat yard in Galway

Nevertheless, talking with the man who built Nimmo was an eloquent reminder that there’s a lot more to sailing in the West than Galway Hookers and other traditional craft. But equally it was a reminder that the traditional skills are still being maintained and indeed nourished out beyond the Pale. So after a leisurely breakfast next morning with Pierce and Susan Purcell in their dream house in Clarinbridge, with a busy red squirrel feasting on the bird table close outside the generous window, there was time to inspect Pierce’s boatshed out the back, one of those green steel sheds which sit so well in the Irish countryside, particularly when – like Pierce – you have your 26-footer comfortably winterised in it, and a fine well-equipped workbench right to hand.

Clarenbridge Pierce purcell 10What price a facility like this at your house on the East Coast? Pierce Purcell in “the little shed out the back” at Clarenbridge Photo W M Nixon
It’s the sort of ideal setup very few can manage on the over-crowded East Coast, and I headed south musing on the east-west imbalance, and readying the thinking for something entirely different - the Ilen Boat-Building School in Limerick. This started as the backup service for the restoration of the Conor O’Brien 57ft ketch Ilen by Liam Hegarty at Oldcourt near Baltimore, and recently in the Ilen School they’ve produced deckhouses for Ilen to the highest standard, and are currently finishing the last of the new spars.

But under the inspiration of Gary MacMahon (who personally was responsible for bring Ilen home from the Falklands) and others such as Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey, the Ilen School has become a remarkable educational and training resource undertaking a wide variety of projects such as creating replicas of the traditional Shannon Estuary gandelows, and building a class of the very handy CityOne sailing dinghies to a design by the late Theo Rye, a successful project which further revealed the multiple talents of that much-mourned expert in every aspect of naval architecture.

grand banks dories Ilen BoatbuildingCourses constructing traditional Grand Banks Dories provide popular night classes at the Ilen Boatbuilding School in Limerick. Photo W M Nixon

Another handy course which the Ilen School offers is through building traditional Grand Banks dories, simple yet effective boats which must have seemed very small indeed as you were left behind in the Grand Banks fog by the Bluenose fishing schooners to get on with the day’s business of ling-lining for cod. By the time the schooner found you again towards evening, your little dory would be dangerously laden with a great catch of wet and scaly silvery wealth.

In fact, the Ilen School is a whole host of experiences, for there in the main work-space were the mighty new spars for Ilen together with the distinctly aged original gaff which goes all the way back to Tom Moynihan and his shipwrights in Baltimore 91 years ago. And in another workspace, the Ilen team are building two very able little dinghies to the Valentine type from dimensions supplied by Hal Sisk, and they will in time be Ilen’s boats. But before you get to these sensibly–shaped little dinghies, you’ve to take on board the Hildasay, the Ilen school’s latest acquisition.

Valentine dinghy Hal sisk 12The Valentine dinghy, from plans provided by Hal Sisk, has been built at the school to be a ship’s boat for Ilen. Photo W M Nixon

Ilen gaff boom 14Ilen’s new main gaff boom (left) and the original (right), which was shaped in Baltimore in 1926. Photo W M Nixon

mainmast Ilen 13The mighty mainmast for Ilen, with topmast temporarily in place in Limerick, is ready for dismantling and transport to Baltimore. Photo W M Nixon

We all know that Limerick is a Viking city, in fact there are those who would argue that it still is, and in its rawest state too. But nevertheless it takes a while to get your head round how a boat like Hildasay, of the very purest Viking descent, should have ended up in a big shed in a trading estate in Limerick.

Hildasay was built in Shetland as a sailing development of the traditional clinker-built sixareen (six oars) in 1951, and is such a sweet little 26-footer that your heart falls for her, even if your head tells you that the slim Viking stern mean there’s very little space just where you most need it most, while the classic clinker construction poses its own special maintenance problems in a vessel which is a semi-keelboat.

Jack Hawks Shetland sixareen 15Jack Hawks with the Shetland sailing sixareen Hildasay, whuch he has donated to the Ilen Boatbuilding School. Photo: W M Nixon
She has been in and around the Shannon Estuary for abut 15 years, but owner Jack Hawks was recently seriously ill, and though he has fully recovered he felt the demands of Hildasay were getting a little too much for him, and wondered if the Ilen Boat Building School would be interested in her as a gift.

She’s an ideal gift, as she’s of a size to be very manageable, she provides special maintenance problems which, while not enormous, are very educational as part of the school’s courses, and each summer when she’s in commission she could be based either on Lough Derg, or somewhere down the Estuary.

Team Ilen School 16The “day team” at the Ilen School with their new acquisition Hildasay include Luki O’Brien, Jack Hawks, Elan Bromley, Owen Lacey, Sid Dorchenas, Matt Diss, Gary MacMahon and Luna MacMahon. Photo W M Nixon
The problem in Limerick is that though the Shannon is very much in the midst of it, access to it in the heart of town is limited, and in any case below the weir the big tides are a problem. But up on Lough Derg or further down the Estuary, there are all sorts of opportunities to get conveniently afloat, and having the use of an interesting sailing boat which is bigger than a CityOne or a gandelow is a natural add-on to the Ilen School’s activities, providing a broadening of the mind for some young would-be boatbuilders who may have spent too much time solely at the workbench without seeing what the resulting use of the end product is all about. And who knows, but they might even manage a race with the lovely gaff cutter Sally O’Keeffe built by Steve Morris of Kilrush with the community team from nearby Querrin as a replica of the traditional Shannon Estuary trading hooker.

Having seen the possibilities of mind-broadening in Limerick, the final part of this western tour took in a project which is mind-blowing. Admittedly the good people of the townland of Skenakilla would never for a minute think of themselves as being in the west, but for the rest of us this hidden spot beyond Mitchellstown in North Cork seems to be in the middle of nowhere. But then when you’ve found it, and spent a bit of time with the ebullient Bill Trafford in his remarkable Alchemy Marine boat workshop in Skenakilla, you feel you’re at the hub of the universe.

Bill is another case of Mna na hEireann reeling them in – a classic yachtbuilder and particularly an enthusiast for the International 6 Metre Class, he met an Irish girl and that was that. He made a living plying his highly specialized trade the length and breadth of our island working from a van, and then discovered his own niche in doing interesting, indeed extraordinary things, with old fibreglass boats.

Bill Trafford Elizabethan 23 17Bill Trafford’s transformation of an Elizabethan 23 won international awards last year.

Etchells 22 lengthened 20Bill Trafford’s current project at Alchemy Marine is the transformation of an Etchells 22 into a weekend cruiser by raising the freeboard, and providing a beautifully-made coachroof (foreground) Photo: W M Nixon

Bill TraffordBill Trafford – he is as enthusiastic about the full potential of glassfibre construction as he is about using classic yacht joinery work. Photo W M Nixon

He’s unusual in that he’s as enthusiastic about the wide potential of glassfibre construction as he is profoundly satisfied by working in wood to the highest classic yacht standards. While his special abilities were well known to a select few, he came to international notice last year when one of his masterpieces, the complete re-working of a seemingly tired little Elizabthan 23 into an elegant 26ft sloop with a classic New England style, was awarded a top prize in the Classic Boat annual competition.

His current project for a Cork owner is even more intriguing, the transformation of an ordinary and no longer young Etchells 22 into a 34ft LOA day cruiser of unique appearance. He has raised the topsides using glassfibre moulding to give her a completely fresh sheerline, he has transformed the stern by giving it a new-look counter with a curving transom which gives more than a nod in the direction of the unique sterns of the Friendship sloops of Maine, and he has built the most beautiful coachroof in the best Knud Reimers style to provide a boat which comes with a heady combination of Down East and Scandinavia to her.

Etchells 22 lengthened 20The lengthened stern has seen the rudder being moved aft by half a metre to provide a much roomier cockpit. Photo: W M Nixon

west sail21While compact, the accommodation provides for weekend cruising, but it’s expected to be comfortable day sailing which will be the best use of the “new” boat. Photo: W M Nixon

The stern is lengthened such that the LOA is now 34ft instead of the original 30.5ft, and the possibilities this has provided for a large cockpit to match the very pleasant accommodation (including a proper toilet compartment and a Beta diesel auxiliary) have been met by moving the entire rudder half a metre aft.

With his experience of tweaking boats this way and that, Bill reckons the sailing balance will if anything be improved by this re-location of the rudder. Personally, in the standard Etchells I’d always thought it too far forward anyway, so I could live with this change, yet found it entertaining to note that while he talked of moving the rudder aft by half a metre, when I asked him how he calculated the perfect-looking camber in the new deck, he said his rule of thumb is one inch for every four feet of beam. This is as near as dammit one in fifty, but his mixture of measurement systems makes him just like the rest of us who are mere bodgers, for when we’re measuring something we just use the side of the steel rule which comes up first, be it metric or imperial…….

deck camber 22Under the new foredeck – Bill’s rule of thumb is a deck camber of one in 48. Photo: W M Nixon

This is very much a bespoke project, so Bill has been able to introduce all sorts of quirky little features, a very attractive one being the ports for the navigation lights, which are set well into the hull either side of the stemhead, and look for all the world like the eyes put in Mediterranean boats to ward off evil spirits. In fact, they give such an appearance of good cheer to this new-old boat that when you see her from ahead, she looks for all the world as though she is smiling so much that she’s about to burst out laughing.

ports navigation lights 23The Watchful One…….it was a Bill Trafford’s idea to build special ports for the navigation lights. Photo W M Nixon

There’s still quite a bit to do before she’s ready for the water, but Bill is now in such a rhythm of working on his own that he can put in long productive hours without really noticing it, so we hope to get back to Skenakilla sooner rather than later. As for those around him, one unexpected advantage of being near Mitchellstown is you’re right in the heart of the dairy engineering industry, where the use and working of stainless steel is second nature. In fact, down there they sometimes use stainless steel which is of a superior grade to the 316 which is usually good enough for the rest of us.

Truth to tell, I didn’t know there were types of stainless steel superior to 316, but you learn many things down in Skenakilla, and it was encouraging to hear that the best workers in the stainless steel fabricating shops are happy to lend their skills in their spare time to bring Bill’s self-made stainless steel fittings up to professional standards of finish.

stainless steel yacht fittings 24Thanks to the local presence of high-grade stainless steel engineering for the dairy industry, it has been possible to make these fittings in Skenakilla. Photo: W M Nixon

Yacht coachroof 25A work of art in its own right, the new coachroof will be fitted any day now. Photo: W M Nixon

All being well, the new boat will be a star at the 25th Anniversary Glandore Classics Regatta from July 23rd to 29th, in fact Bill rather hopes the owner might consider taking her to the Classics Regatta celebrating the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour from July 6th to 9th as part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

The good news here is that Cathy MacAleavey, chair of the Dun Laoghaire Classics organising committee, and Sally Wyles, who heads up the Glandore organisation, got together last weekend to see about selling their two events as a sort of package, as the clear fortnight between them makes participation in both a very realistic proposition.

Certainly the Dun Laoghaire Classics is beginning to look impressive, particularly if you go by the measuring method of counting the number of famous designers involved. The recent interest shown by Rob Mason of Milford Haven to come over with his newly-restored 36ft Alexander Richardson-designed 36ft Myfanwy brings a once-famous Liverpool designer back into the limelight. It’s where he deserves to be, for Richardson designed John Jameson’s all-conquering Irex in 1884.

Alexander Richardson 36 footer MyfanwyRob Mason with his restored 1897 Alexander Richardson 36-footer Myfanwy off Milford Haven. He has indicated interest in participation in the Bicentenary Regatta in Dun Laoghaire in July

In Dublin Bay, Myfanwy would see this Richardson creation shaping up to designs by G L Watson, Alfred Mylne, William Fife, John Kearney, O’Brien Kennedy, Arthur Robb and others, and that’s the list already with the net only newly cast.

As for what Glandore can offer, there’s at least one unique proposition. A special race will be sailed to honour the memory of Theo Rye, the fleet including the CityOnes from Limerick and a host of other boats, new and old. On each and every one of them, Theo would have had something new and of real interest to say, for that’s the kind of devoted student of naval architecture he was throughout his far-too-short life. He is much missed.

Theo Rye 27Much missed. The late Theo Rye aboard the 1887 Fife cutter Ayrshire Lass, which was restored by Michael Kennedy at Dunmore East. Theo Rye will be commemorated in a special event at the 25th Anniversary Glandore Classics Regatta from July 23rd to 29th. Photo: Darryl Hughes

Published in W M Nixon

The overall winner of the 2016 Etchells World Championship, hosted by the Royal London Yacht Club, is John Bertrand (AUS), representing the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, with a crew of Paul Blowers (GBR) and Ben Lamb (AUS). In 2nd is Steve Benjamin (USA), representing the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, with a crew of Michael Menninger , Ian Liberty and George Peet (all USA). In 3rd is Irish born Noel Drennan (AUS), representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, with a crew of Brian Hammersley and Andrew Mills (both GBR).

On the final day of the 2016 Etchells World Championship, Race 9 was won by John Bertrand's team. 2nd was Pedro Andrade (POR), with a team of Henry Bagnall and Charles Nankin, representing the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, Germany was second. In 3rd was Ante Razmilovic (GBR) representing the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda Italy, with a team of Chris Larson and Stuart Flinn.

Mark Mansfield sailing on ice skippered by Andrew Cooper finished 16th overall. Third crew was Calum Healy, a month ago this trio had won the Etchells 22 class at Cowes Week.

In 27th place was Julia Bailey with Dulbiner Jay Burke from Dublin and Martin Payne.

In 47th place was Howth's Richard Burrows with Samantha Burrows and James Downer.

All results here are provisional.

Published in Etchells
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Big breeze arrived at the 2016 Etchells World Championship today; fully powered up, punching through Solent chop upwind and pulling the trigger down wind, several teams experienced gear failure. The conditions were unexpected, 25 knots of solid breeze with bullets of pressure, sending the wind speed past 30 knots. Race 6 was completed, guaranteeing a series for the regatta, and bringing a discard race into play. Argyle Campbell, representing the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, (USA), won today's only race. Andy Beadsworth, representing Warsash Sailing Club (GBR), was 2nd and reigning Etchells World Champion, Skip Dieball, representing North Cape YC (USA), was 3rd.

John Bertrand representing the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (AUS), extended his overall lead at the top of the fleet, scoring a 6th today and discarding a 22nd. Steve Benjamin's team suffered damage to their main sheet system before the start, which they repaired, but the knock-on effect was a rushed pre-start, and a 20th place dropped the team to 3rd overall. Irish born Australian, Noel Drennan, scored a 5th place to steal past Benjamin by a single point. Drennan has competed in the America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, and 30 Sydney Hobart's. This is Noel 'Nitro' Drennan's 18th Etchells World Championship.

“John (Bertrand) has got quite a big lead and Steve Benjamin and Chris Hamilton are close behind us, so there is still plenty of racing to come.” commented Noel Drennan. “It looks like it will be windy again tomorrow, and things can happen. We will try to start well and try not to do anything stupid.

Today's race winner was Argyle Campbell, representing the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, (USA). His team of Tom Forrester-Coles, Kelvin Matthews and Victor Diaz de Leon, were racing Rock N' Roll, an apt name for today's conditions. “We have been in Cowes a while, training in high winds, so we were used to the conditions today and had worked out a good set up for the boat.” commented Argyle Campbell. “ We decided to keep the tactics simple and minimise manoeuvres. We banged hard left and it worked pretty well. We had a good lead at the top mark but Andy Beadsworth was really fast and closing on us all the time. I didn't have much time to look around today, it was hard enough keeping the boat in the water upwind and from under the water downwind! But today was a much better view!”

In the Corinthian Class, The General, skippered by James Badenach, has taken charge. His team from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club; Christian Thompson, Elliot Hanson and Martin Wrigley, smoked the Corinthian fleet today, and dropped a big discard, to take the lead by 17 points. Over night leader, Martin Webster, representing the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, retired from today's race, putting the team into 3rd position. Thomas Brennan's team, representing the Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR) remains in 2nd position.

“We got disqualified yesterday, which put a bit of a spanner in the works.” admitted james Badenach. “We have been looking to make the top 15 to the first mark but for the last three races, we need to step it up a bit and maybe take a few more risks.”

With the discard rule kicking in, several teams have broken into the top ten. Lawrie Smith (GBR) representing the Glandore Yacht Club, sailing with Joost Houweling and Tim Tavinor move up to 6th place. Past Etchells World Champion, Andy Beadsworth (GBR), sailing with Grant Simmer and Steve Jarvin, occupy 7th position. Scott Kaufman (USA), racing with Jesse Kirkland, Lucas Calabrase and Austen Andersen, have scored a bullet and a 15th in their last two races to move up to 8th overall.

Racing for the 2016 Etchells World Championship continues on Friday 9th September.

Provisional Results here

Published in Etchells
Tagged under

It was a dramatic finish to the third day of the Etchells World Championship, sponsored by Red Funnel Ferries. John Bertrand, representing the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (AUS), was initially disqualified from Race 5, for being over early on a U-Flag start, and then re-instated after the Race Committee reviewed the decision. “We have cameras at both ends of the line and this system enabled us to have an exact picture at the start. Having reviewed this evidence some teams were re-instated for Race 5.” confirmed Principle Race Officer, Phil Lawrence.

Steve Benjamin, representing the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (USA), scored a bullet in Race 4, and fought back from a mid-fleet start in Race 5, to end the day four points behind Bertrand. “We fully expected John (Bertrand) to be ahead when we came in. He got a great start in the last race, as did we in the race before.” commented Steve Benjamin. “I love coming to Cowes, I have been here for five Admiral's Cups and the Jubilee, and it is one of my favourite places in the world to go sailing. Today was tough again, but we have a really good team, and we are happy with our speed.”

Chris Hampton's team, representing the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (AUS), is third on countback from Noel Drennan's team, representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. “I only started sailing in 2002.” admitted Chris Hampton. “I have really only sailed in an Etchells for those years. So far in the Worlds we have tried to avoid making errors and concentrating on our speed, that has given us the results, to put us where we are. I was once told, in Etchells racing it is not about doing the extraordinary, it is about avoiding mistakes. The mood on board is excellent and our goal at the start of the regatta was to make the top ten, that is still our aim.”

Seamus McHugh's team, flying the Swiss flag, is in fifth place for the regatta after a podium finish in Race Four. Cowes Etchells Fleet Captain and Regatta Director, David Franks, had a stellar day on the water, posting two top ten finishes to lift his team, representing the Royal London Yacht Club (GBR) to 6th overall.

“Today's success was a combination of ten years sailing in the Etchells and ten years of learning so many small things.” commented David Franks. “The difference between these teams is not great, the difference is in the detail. You can get some lucky breaks, but it is all about the detail, and in particular it is about my crew, especially Graham Sunderland. He has stuck with me for years, when I was a hopeless helmsman. I was rather amused to see Ian Walker recently saying that 19 is not too young to start sailing, because I was 39!”

In the Corinthian Class, Scott Kaufman's team representing the Royal freshwater Bay Yacht Club (AUS), still leads despite being disqualified for U-Flag infringement in Race 5. Thomas Brennan's team, representing the Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR), is now just 11 points behind Kaufman. James Badenach's team, representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, is third. Other top performers in the Corinthian Class today were Stephen Line, who scored the best result in the Corinthian Fleet for Race 5 and Bill Steele team, representing the Royal Perth Yacht Club (AUS), which had a cracking day on the water, to place the team fourth overall in the Corinthian Class.

After racing the Royal Mersey Yacht Club, which has a fleet of 12 Etchells, provided a delicious and substantial English Tea, to fortify the sailors. Tonight Etchells World Championship supporter, Red Funnel Ferries, will entertain 250 Etchells Sailors and guests at the Royal London Yacht Club. A champagne reception and plated buffet will be well received by the party. Kevin George, Chief Executive Officer Red Funnel Group, will welcome the Etchells fleet and present John Bertrand with the Red Funnel Trophy for the best combined result for Red Funnel Race Day.

Racing for the 2016 Etchells World Championship continues on Thursday 8th September. With a discard kicking in from Race 6, a big change in the results is a distinct possibility. The 2016 Etchells World Championship media team will deliver live updates, including GPS Tracking, as well as daily results, news stories, interviews, videos, and pictures.

Provisional results here 

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There was some more Aussie cheer, on Day Two of the Etchells World Championship. Irish born Noel 'Nitro' Drennan, has raced Etchells with Dennis Connor and John Bertrand, and his experience showed today, nailing the pin end of the start to win Race Three by a handsome margin. Drennan's bullet lifts his team above John Bertrand, but only into 2nd place. The Stars & Stripes of Steve 'Benji' Benjamin's team, from Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club Connecticut USA, leads the Etchells World Championship after three races.

“Very challenging today and a lot of fun.” summed up Steve Benjamin. “We were unsure, which side was going to pay before the start. Literally before the gun, the pin came good and we were near that end of the line. It was then about how long to stay on that tack, that was dictated by the tide and the wind, and also the lane we were holding. The lane started to get congested so we tacked over and made it in good shape to the top mark. There is a long way to go in this regatta and the results do not count a throw out yet, so we are taking absolutely nothing for granted. It is a lot of fun sailing in this fleet, the racing is really tight and it is a fantastic mix of sailors, from so many areas of the sport.”

Chris Hampton's team, representing the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (AUS) is now in 4th position. Seamus McHugh's team, including two-time Olympic gold medallist, Luis Doreste, finished 2nd in Race 3, lifting the team flying the Swiss flag, into 5th overall. Mark Thornburrow's team, representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and including two-time Olympic gold medallist, Malcolm Page, is now in 6th place. Ante Razmilovic (GBR), sailing with multiple world champion Chris Larson, finished the day in 7th, after another top ten result. Shannon Bush (USA) has broken into the top ten, but Andy Beadsworth's team, representing Warsash Sailing Club (GBR), scored a 20th today and drops to 9th. “I am not use to being mid-fleet in an Etchells, and I don't like it; it is really tough in that pack.” In 10th place is Andrew Cooper, racing with four–time Irish Olympian, Mark Mansfield, and Calum Healey.

In the Corinthian Class, Martin Webster's team, representing the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (AUS), have taken the lead. Thomas Brennan's team, representing the Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR) drops to 2nd. James Badenach's team, representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, move up to third. The best result of the Corinthian Class today was Mark Downer's team, representing the Bembridge Sailing Club (GBR), lifting the team to 4th in the class. Bill Steele's gentleman's duel with Tim Patton for a bottle of wine is warming up. Tim Patton's team, representing the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, scored a big victory over Bill Steele's team, representing the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Bill will be buying the wine tonight!

Robert Elliott, Chairman and Senior Partner of Linklaters London, is racing at the Etchells World Championship, representing the Royal Yacht Squadron.
Today's daily Prize Giving was supported by Harken and Linklaters. Robert Elliott, Chairman and Senior Partner of Linklaters London, is racing at the Etchells World Championship, representing the Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR). The daily meeting between all the sailors is a great get-together, and the fleet delivered a special present to Samantha Burrows, who has cut short her honeymoon to compete with her father, Richard Burrows, representing the Royal Ocean Racing Club (GBR). Samantha has been sailing with her father since the 2010 Etchells World Championship in Howth. “I love the Etchells, and the best thing about it, is I get to sail with my daughter.” commented Richard Burrows.

Racing at the 2016 Etchells World Championship will continue tomorrow, Wednesday 7th September, with races scheduled in the Central Solent. The 2016 Etchells World Championship media team will deliver live updates, including GPS Tracking, as well as daily results, news stories, interviews, videos, and pictures.

Provisional Results can be found here

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The 2016 Etchells World Championship started in earnest today, with two intensely competitive races in the Central Solent. It took four attempts to get the fleet away for Race One and the U-Flag start produced several casualties, including reigning Etchells World Champions, Skip Dieball, Jon McClean and Jeff Eiber North Cape YC (USA). “Yes, we will be back out fighting tomorrow, we have got our discard out of the way on the first race.” commented Jon McClean. Teams from five different nations occupy the top ten places. However two teams from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Victoria Australia, finished the day at the top of the leaderboard. Full results are here

Race One was won by Chris Hampton racing with Sam Haines and Mark Andrews Royal Brighton Yacht Club (AUS). The chat in the beer tent afterwards suggested that Hampton's team, sailed extremely well today. Ante Razmilovic racing with Chris Larson and Stuart Flinn, representing the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (ITA), scored a bullet in Race Two.

Day One, top performer was John Bertrand, racing with Paul Blowers and Ben Lamb, representing the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (AUS). After two races, Bertrand leads by three points from Hampton. Steve Benjamin's team, from the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (USA), is the smoking gun in third, behind the Australians. Peter Duncan, American Yacht Club (USA), is in fourth on countback from Andy Beadsworth, Warsash SC (GBR). Noel 'Nitro' Drennan, representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is just a point behind in sixth.

“Consistency is the key and we could not have done better than that today.” commented John Bertrand. “Between being a hero or a loser is the thickness of a sheet of paper. In Race One, we rounded the top mark in 30th and it was all about chipping away and eventually finishing 4th. This regatta is about holding it together and seeing the forest from the trees, placing the boat in the best place for the wind and the tide, and dealing with all the boats around you. To win this regatta, you have to be able to come back from the dead – everybody will find themselves in that position during the week.”

In the Corinthian Class, Thomas Brennan's team of Ian Dobson, Sam Maxfield and Honor Fell, representing the Royal Thames Yacht Club (GBR), scored an impressive 4th in the second race, to lead the 18 teams racing on countback. Martin Webster team of Annabel Vose, Peter Nicholas and Chris Smith from the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, Perth (AUS) is in second. Webster's result was impressive, after recovering Annabel Vose from an unscheduled swim! James Badenach's team of Christian Thompson, Elliot Hanson and Martin Wrigley, from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, finished the day in third.

Bill Steele from Perth, Australia and Tim Patton from Bermuda, have accumulated 52 Etchells World Championships between them. Both fly a distinctive wine glass on their spinnaker, signifying a gentleman's bet. Bill Steele's cup was definitely half full today, finishing the day in fifth position in the Corinthian Class, ahead of Tim Patton. Today's Prize Giving was sponsored by Spinlock and wine merchants Justerini & Brooks, who had a special prize for Bill Steele

“This is my 25th Etchells Worlds but Tim has done 27. We both carry the wine glass on our spinnakers to signify a gentleman's wager of a bottle of fine wine on every race.” smiled Bill Steele. “We can see each other on the race course and today, it was very close in the first race, which I managed to win, and got away well in the second to win quite well. It was very nice of Justerini & Brooks to put up a fine bottle of wine today. I intend to enjoy it with my wife Annabelle, whom the boat, Chelsea Lady, is named after.”

Racing at the 2016 Etchells World Championship will continue tomorrow, Tuesday 6th September, with two races scheduled in the Central Solent.

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250 guests attended the Etchells World Championship Gala Reception, hosted by the Royal London Yacht Club last night. The Medina Marching Band opened proceedings, and Regatta Director, David Franks, welcomed the sailors to the regatta. As the flags of the 11 nations (including Ireland) taking part were raised on Trinity Landing, the international gathering cheered everyone. 58 teams will battle it out in the Solent over the next six days, amongst them are the glitterati from the world of sailing, as well as passionate corinthian sailors. Royal London was also the venue for a meeting about weight limits in the class last week.

A closer look at the fleet reveals immense quality in depth, 14 past and present Etchells World Champions are just the tip of the iceberg. From dinghy to Maxi World Champions, arguably the coolest collection of sailors, anywhere in the world, has gathered in Cowes. 20 Olympians, with four gold and three bronze medals between them, as well as World Champions from 24 different classes and America's Cup competitors and winners.

World class sailors include, Skip Dieball (USA), Jon McClean (USA) and Jeff Eiber (USA): 2015 Etchells World Champions. John Bertrand (AUS): America's Cup winning skipper, Etchells World Champion and Olympic medallist. Malcolm Page (AUS): two-time Olympic gold medallist and six-time 470 World Champion. Steve Benjamin (USA): Olympic silver medallist, Fireball, 505 and Maxi World Champion. Luis Doreste (ESP): Five time Olympian and two-time gold medallist. Lawrie Smith (GBR): Round the world legend, two-time Olympic bronze medallist and Dragon World Champion. Ian Dobson (GBR): Five time GP14 World Champion and Chris Larson (USA): Melges 24, J/22, J/24, Mumm 36, Swan 45 and Maxi World Champion...and those are just the highlights.

Four World Champion yachtswomen will be competing: World Champion Match Racing and Olympic sisters, Lucy and Kate McGregor (GBR), 420 & J/111 World Champion Annabel Vose (GBR) and Stephanie Roble (USA) Etchells World Champion and 2014 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.

“This is my Zen, it's like meditation.” commented John Bertrand, the man who wrestled the America's Cup from a fellow Etchells World Champion, Dennis Connor. “Everything else just gets stripped away at the Etchells Worlds, and we are all back to just pure sailing. Some other areas of the sport are full of politics but not here, which is why it is so popular with so many different sailors. The Etchells Class is probably the most competitive one-design class going, one mistake and you get spat out the back, and nobody is going to apologise. Ashore after racing the spirit is just fantastic.”

Racing at the 2016 Etchells World Championship will be held from Monday 5th to Saturday 10th September, with multiple windward -leeward racing in the Central Solent. Six races will constitute a series and the overall winner will receive the antique silver Founders Trophy, and join a list of impressive Etchells World Championship winners.

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There is ongoing disgruntlement among some members of the Etchells fleet as to how rule changes were effected and communicated on the eve of the class world championships in Cowes tomorrow.

The assembled fleet on the English South coast learned of a class rule change regarding weigh in for crews by way of a Facebook post two weeks ago. Previously, a crew weight limit of 285–kilos was monitored for all crews before the start of the regatta, and again on Wednesday evening.

The change announced meant that crews weighing in at less than 277 k were excused the mid-week weigh. All others would have to reweigh on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning before racing.

This caused mixed reaction amongst the fleet. Those targeting 277 were delighted at being finished with weighing, those near to 285 were annoyed at the frequency of the reweigh.

weigh in

So, yesterday, all crews were summoned to an emergency meeting in the Royal London Yacht Club. The meeting was a sell–out. There was expectation of a debate and discussion. Instead, the class chairman Gary Gilbert, walked into the room at the appointed hour, according to sources, and read a short announcement which he said was an amendment of the Sailing Instructions.

The change results in crews within eight kg of the limit having to reweigh on Wednesday and crews less than that having no reweigh. All crews in the top ten on Friday will have to reweigh.

So, an outcome that should please everyone. Except, of course, the Class Governors who appear to have got it badly wrong in making the change and failing to communicate it to the members. Remember girls and toilet breaks?

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The New Zealand team racing Feng Shui of Andrew Wills, Anatole Masfen and Matthew Kelway, has won the 2016 Etchells Open European Championship writes Louay Habib. After two days of tricky shifting breeze in the Solent, the New Zealand Team racing from Royal Akarana Yacht Club scored no worse than a seventh, in the four race series, to win the first regatta of the event, and bragging rights for the forthcoming 2016 Etchells World Championship.

A number of Irish sailors are competing in the event, including one Irish boat, skippered by Richard Burrows of Howth YC. According to the event website, no overall results are available to date. Overalls will be here

The New Zealand team, who are all from Auckland won the series in a 50–boat fleet of Olympic and America's Cup winners as well as as a multitude of World Champions. Current British National Champion, Ante Razmilovic, racing under the burgee of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda ITA, was second. Steve Benjamin's team from the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club Connecticut USA was just a point behind in third. America's Cup winner and past Etchells World Champion, John Bertrand sailing for the Royal Brighton YC, Victoria AUS was the winner of the last race of the series.

Eddie Warden Owen's RORC team of Ossie Stewart and John Greenwood, was top Corinthian Team for the Etchells Open European Championship.  “ I first came to Cowes in 1994 racing an Etchells and I fell in love with Cowes and the class.” commented Feng Shui's Anatole Masfen. “Cowes is the 'Disneyland' of yachting, it is where yacht racing began.

I believe this is a very special place and the job that David Franks (Cowes Etchells Class Capitan) and his team have done, to invigorate the class, is very exciting and I am just glad to be part of it.”

Racing at the 2016 Etchells World Championship will start on Monday 5th September and conclude on Saturday September 10th. 58 teams from fourteen countries will be taking part.

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