Massive fleet for 2018 Etchells Worlds

Published on October 13th, 2018

Olympian, World Champion and America’s Cup living legend, John Bertrand AO, is just one of the stars lining up for the 2018 Etchells World Championship to be held October 22-27 in Brisbane, Australia.

With 95-boats to complete, this year the Class celebrates its 50th year, having been designed by Skip Etchells back in the 60s. Whilst that may be considered old hat by some, with its aluminum masts and symmetrical spinnakers, the boat remains loved by some of the best sailors the world has ever seen.

This year alone the regatta has almost ten former Etchells World Champions amongst the fleet, and then there are best on the planet from other classes like the iconic 18-footers, as well as Olympic Medallists, America’s Cup veterans, and winners the Volvo Ocean Race.

Apart from the overall win, crews also compete in the Senior, Master, Grand Master and Corinthian divisions, where appropriate.

Now John Bertrand is sailing Triad2 with Ben Lamb on the bow and Noel Drennan on the main, both of whom have more than enviable CVs across many classes. Ben has just returned from the J/70 Worlds (another 90+ boat fleet), and they are joined for the first time by Drennan, who’s Etchells credentials are simply outstanding.

John Bertrand

Bertrand collected his 2016 World Championship in Cowes with Ben and Paul Blowers, but had other megastars in Tom Slingsby and Andrew Palfrey on board his famous, Triad, in Howth in Ireland when he collected the 2010 title.

“The size of it all is a little bit of a phenomenon, notes Bertrand. “However, having spent same days out on the waters of Moreton Bay sailing against some of the US crews, as well as a few of the Australians, it is quite noticeable just how much the game is changing.

“It is all becoming much more sophisticated, and a lot like Olympic competition, in fact. This is due to the resources people are bringing to the table. So the class is certainly evolving rapidly. This regatta is going to be hot, what else do you say?

“A review of the fleet is really a who’s who of One Design racing. Etchells are already considered the best of their type in Australia, but I think we are going to see that this event is going to deliver something else on the world stage.

“Tactically, the Etchells are very sophisticated. The speed differential is minute, unlike so many other classes, so if you can cross another boat by centimetres, then this is a really good life experience. I am just happy to be alive and be on that start line, which is the best way to approach something like this.

“Not sure there is any luck involved for the crew who do manage to take it out. The cream very much rises to the top in a long regatta. It will be an emotional rollercoaster, and a true marathon, both physically and mentally.

“To give people an idea of the scale of it all, the start line will be 1.2km long (.75 mile), which means you cannot read the sail numbers of boats on the other end of the line. You race in your own fleet in many ways, and if you can round in the top 20 then good luck to you!”

Alas, it takes a lot of people to put something like this together in the first place, and then to run it once it all begins. However, there is no one who would not say that the size of this event is not the result of the drive and enthusiasm displayed by the Chairman of the Organising Committee, David Irvine.

Since travelling to Newport, R.I. in 2014 to secure the event for Brisbane, he has been tireless and determined, but also very empowering as he sought to build a team.

“The real secret is sponsoring co-operation,” notes Irvine. “The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and the Class have come together to make a totally worthwhile programme for on water and shore crew alike. I am sure this is why we not only have the usual array of talent from so many areas of sailing, but also the vast number who have swelled the fleet to be over 300 sailors strong.”

The Etchells Queensland Championship will act as the Pre-Worlds on October 14-16 with the 9-race World Championship being held October 22-27.

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Source: John Curnow

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