Marching toward Etchells World Champs

Published on February 26th, 2023

The 2023 Etchells Midwinters Championship attracted 56 teams on February 24-26 in Miami, FL. The 6-race series was won by Marvin Beckmann, concluding the 4-event 2022-23 Biscayne Bay Regatta Series won overall by Jim Cunningham for the second year in a row. The series had extra attention due to the 2023 Etchells World Championship at the venue in April.

For the Midwinters, racing was limited due to winds of no more than 8 knots. Etchells veteran Beckmann and his crew Tommy Dietrich, Arantxa Agribay, and Joachim Aschenbrenner consistently stayed in the lead for the entire light air regatta – a welcomed change for Beckmann, a former World Champion, who had yet to even break into the top ten all season.

“Tommy and Joachim got us great starts and coarse management,” said the Texan. “Jud Smith also helped with boat set up and confidence in boat speed.”

Two onshore postponements on the second and third days forced sailors to wait for the sea breeze to overcome an onshore high-pressure. This continued a pattern of challenging weather for the winter series that began in December.

A lack of wind in December resulted in no races for the Piana Cup. That event was then rescheduled for the day before Florida States in February where too much wind canceled racing one day. Then there was a Floridan cold snap in January that brought not just freezing temperatures and very shifty conditions.

The repeat series champions Jim Cunningham, Steve Hunt, Erik Shampain, and Serena Vilage on Lifted were able to overcome the demanding conditions to stand on the podium for three of the four regattas – a feat no other Etchells crews accomplished this year.

“I feel very fortunate that our team has sailed together for a number of years which really helped us to be consistent especially when things got chaotic and tight,” says Cunningham who hails from San Francisco. ”We knew it would be difficult with so many talented teams here. We got a new boat and teamed up with A-Mac (Jack Jakosky’s team) as tuning partners with Dave Ullman as our coach.

“We have been working together and learning a lot and are super happy to have pulled this one off again. Our main focus is the Worlds in April and we feel we still have a lot to learn.”

Joining Cunningham on the podium for the Overall Series was another West Coast team, Louise (USA 1481) with Thomas Carruthers, Bill Hardesty, and Jeff Reynolds USA 1481) in 2nd place and Oatmeal (USA 1453) with Peter Duncan, Andrew Palfrey, and Mark Mandelblet in 3rd.

The Etchells class also recognizes Group 1 sailors with a Corinthian Trophy for the series. Andy Cumming’s crew, all hailing from Toronto, Ontario, on Blackadder II (CAN 1451) John Millen, Chloe Congourdeau, and Erin Sauder took home this half-model trophy.

“The commitment to Corinthian sailing by the Etchells fleet is paramount to keeping the grassroots, local-fleet sailing healthy and vibrant,” says Cummings. “This is what makes a fleet long-lasting and strong. It is an honor to sail Corinthian in this class against so many spectacular teams.

“I encourage more teams to take up the mantle of the Corinthian spirit of this sport and in this Class. I think both options (professional or Corinthian) should be seen as credible and viable options for any and all Etchells sailors.”

These strong contenders are only a few among the 300 sailors expected to descend on Miami from around the World for the Championships April 16 – 21, 2023 but not before

The Miami venue will next hold the North American Championship on March 15-19 before the Worlds on April 16-21.

“Our Race Committee is world class and we know sailors appreciate our efforts in challenging conditions over the last three months,,” says race chair Dave Brennan. “We have used the Winter Series to prepare to administer the best racing possible for Worlds.”

2022-23 Biscayne Bay Regatta Series
December 10-11 – Louis Piana Cup Regatta
January 14-15 – Sidney Doren Memorial Regatta
February 4-5 – Florida State Championship
February 24-26 – Mid-Winter’s East Regatta

Source: IECA

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