Cunningham wins Etchells North American Championship

Published on March 19th, 2023

Jim Cunningham (USA) won the 2023 Coral Reef Cup, held March 17-19 in Miami, FL. The event, which attracted 46 teams, also counted as the Etchells North American Championship and the final chance for teams to race at the venue for the 2023 Etchells World Championship to be held April 16-21.

Following a four-event Winter Series held on Biscayne Bay which endured multiple abandonments due to weather, class meteorologist Chelsea Carlson of Sea-Tactics was pleased to see the venue return to form. “Finally really nice conditions in Miami,” she said. “Exactly what we are hoping for in April and good preparation for the teams. Friday we had a southeasterly at 11-14 knots, Saturday was a 6-11 knot southerly, and Sunday was northeast 10-15.”

At the end of Friday after 3 races, Steve Benjamin with his brand new Etchells, Stella Blue (USA 1427), was at the top of the podium with all top 10 finishes with George Francisco’s American Baby (USA 1454) just behind followed by the Winter Series Champion Jim Cunningham’s Lifted (USA 1504).

Saturday started with winds in the 8-12 knot range but then died to 5 knots, so the fifth race was postponed until the breeze filled back in. Once six races were completed, teams could throw out their worst race. Cunningham climbed to the top of the results on Saturday and continued to hold onto his momentum through Sunday becoming the new 2023 North American Champion.

Cunningham and crew Steve Hunt, Erik Shampain, and Serena Vilage are finally the brides not the bridesmaids after multiple recent second-place finishes – including the 2022 North Americans held at Shelter Harbor Yacht Club on Long Island.

“It feels pretty good to finally break through with the win here at the North Americans,” said Cunningham. “As usual with the Etchells fleet, it is super deep and talented and you have to get it all right to have a good race. This event was no different as we had seven races with seven different winners. We’re feeling good heading into the Worlds in four weeks.”

Topping the Corinthian podium was also the Winter Series winner, Andy Cumming with Blackadder II (CAN 1451) with fellow Toronto natives John Millen, Chloe Congourdeau, and Erin Sauder. Cunning says he is “deeply committed to the Corinthian spirit in this class” and has been actively working to promote the sub-class to encourage more participation and the health of the sport overall.

Standing on the overall podium and only separated by one point were Jack Franco, Richard Clarke, and Ben Lamb in second place with Odd Ball (USA 1513) followed by Jay Cross, Taylor Canfield, George Peet, and Franny Schulte on Skanky Gene (USA 1464).

Next up is the World Championship which has 65 boats from 9 countries entered. making it the largest Etchells Worlds since 2014. Among the fleet are 12 World Champions and many National Champions.

North Americans:

Final Results (Top 10 of 46; 7 races, 1 discard)
1. Jim Cunningham/ Steve Hunt/ Erik Shampain/ Serena Vilage, 11-4-7-1-3-[18]-12; 38
2. Jack Franco/ Richard Clarke/ Ben Lamb, 3-3-19-13-[34]-1-7; 46
3. Jay Cross/ Taylor Canfield/ George Peet/ Franny Schulte, [15]-14-8-15-6-2-2; 47
4. Paul Ward/ Charlie Cumbley/ Paul Childs, 1-20-4-9-[35]-5-15; 54
5. John Sommi/ Victor Diaz De Leon/ Will Ryan/ Beccy Anderson, 16-11-1-[23]-7-9-11; 55
6. George Francisco/ Chris Larson/ Chuck Norris, 10-8-3-[22]-8-4-22; 55
7. Luke Lawrence/ Andrew Macrae/ Brad Boston, 13-6-[27]-14-19-6-3; 61
8. Thomas Carruthers/ Bill Hardesty/ Jeff Reynolds, 5-10-11-8-20-8-[25]; 62
9. Chris Lanza/ Tomas Hornos/ Tim Banks, 6-[23]-23-10-10-13-1; 63
10. Stephen Benjamin/ Michael Buckley/ Ian Liberty/ Dave Hughes, 2-2-9-[26]-22-20-8; 63

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