Seventh time a charm at Etchells Worlds

Published on September 24th, 2022

Ante Razmilovic’s Swedish Blue (GBR) is the 2022 Etchells World Champion with crew Brian Hammersley and Noel Drennan, topping the 42 boat fleet on September 19-24 in Cowes, UK.

Patience was needed in large quantities as the start of the series was delayed a day to pay respect for the State Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen in London. And when the fleet was ready to get underway on day two, the wind wasn’t.

When racing finally began on September 22, Swedish Blue posted a 35th in the only race, but got all top ten scores in the remaining eight races to build a six point victory margin. This was Razmilovic’s seventh Etchells World Championship, with his best prior finishes as runner-up in 2014 and 2010.

Three races were held the final day, and any of the top ten boats had a realistic chance of winning the 2022 title. Lawrie Smith’s Mila (GBR) held a six point lead by six points over Andrew Lawson’s Corinthian team racing No Dramas (GBR). Peter Duncan’s Oatmeal (USA) was third, tied with Grant Gordon’s Louise Racing (GBR).

But it all changed after the seventh race when the discard kicked in, with Swedish Blue unloading those weighty first race points, posting a 1-4-10 to be World Champions. A 3-8-6 by Anatole Masfen (NZL) was good enough for second overall while Smith’s 6-21-1 dropped him to third.

Claiming the Corinthian title in the 15-boat sub-division was Andrew Lawson (GBR) with crew Graham Vials and Billy Russell while the Youth division was won by Anthony Parke (GBR) and crew Ross Mackley, Ali Grant, and Josie Meredith.

Promoting youth participation has been a focus for the host fleet with their Etchells Youth Academy program active now for nine years. The Etchells Class has the Next Generation Trophy that is awarded to the team, all 29 or younger as of the first day of competition, achieving the best result.

“We started off with just one youth boat for the Academy, now we have six, and over 700 young sailors have got onto the water with the UK Etchells Fleet,” commented UK Etchells Class Captain, David Franks, who is a generous Etchells Youth Academy supporter.

“We have seen youths that have come through the programme come back and help the ones that follow. The Etchells Youth Academy is also a pathway into a maritime career. The best example is the Greig City Academy, which is a school in inner London.

“Sixth Form head teacher Jon Holt has been instrumental in getting pupils out racing, they have done two Fastnet campaigns and some of them have gone on to work in the sailing industry for Alex Thomson Racing and North Sails.”

The youngest team racing is Palaver (GBR) sailed by Kai Hockley (16), Jaydon Owusu (17), and Christopher-Joel Frederick (17), who are all students at the Greig City Academy in Haringey, North London.

“A great opportunity has been given to us,” commented Hockley. “To get the boat, the advice, and all the friendly help from all the sailors, is just great, we can’t thank everybody enough. The Etchells Class is so competitive; there are amateurs racing against Olympians, but this a one-design class, so the only way to win is to be the best sailors. Our team is getting more experience, and this will help us on the road to hopefully match the best.”

The youngest female sailor at the Etchells Worlds is Josie Meredith who is racing with the youth team on Shamal (GBR). Josie is 20 and studying Nursing at Southampton University. “I just love the standard of the competition, racing against some of the best sailors in the world is really cool,” she said.

Vita Heathcote is tactician on David Franks Strait Dealer (GBR), proving her chops by winning the 2019 420 Worlds and aspires to represent Great Britain in the 470 Class at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“Like the 470, this is a very tight fleet, and there are a lot of scenarios that you can relate with the two, like boat on boat and overall tactics,” commented Heathcote. “Every race you make mistakes and good decisions, so every race is more experience in the bank.

“You do have to adjust your mental picture a bit, such as mark rounding where the angles are different where you have to adjust your special awareness. I think that racing an Etchells adds a lot of value; racing in different boats has made me and my crew learn more, I would definitely encourage it.”

Over a third of the sailors taking part in the 2022 Etchells Worlds are classified as youths, including seven on the helm. The youth sailors come from nine different countries; Argentina, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.

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