Etchells Corinthian World Champions


Prior to the World Championship, I was chatting to the 2015 World Champion, Jon McClean at RORC a few months before the event.  He told me that it had been a five-year programme for his team to become world champions in 2015.  This was going to be our first world championship in the Etchells and we knew that the standards would be high as the fleet included numerous Olympians, World Champions, Americas Cup, Volvo, Whitbread racers etc. - it was going to be hard but we were up for the challenge.  Also, we had set ourselves the challenge to take the Corinthian prize.

The Hephaestus team (all RTYC members) was made up of myself (main and spin trim), Ian Dobson (helm), Honor Fell (pit) and Sam Maxfield (Bow and jib trim).  We had put together a two-year program leading up to the worlds but were dealt a blow when our Etchell, was one of the 30+ yachts that were destroyed in the Cowes fire in January 2016.  A frantic search ensued and a replacement Etchell was located, purchased and renamed Hephaestus – Greek god of fire – and a program of improvements was implemented and a new set of sails were ordered.

Racing was intensely close – as expected for a world championship - and any mistake, however small, would see you heading back in the fleet.  Racing took place between the 5-10 September in Cowes with 9 races in 6 days and 58 teams entered.  In the second race, Hephaestus was leading at the windward mark – it was a great feeling.  However, the competition was hot on our heels and we ended up taking a fourth place – we were disappointed by also happy at the same time.

For the Corinthian title, we had a very close week racing against Sumo – Martin Webster’s team from Freshwater Bay, Australia.  The final race in the regatta took a while to get under way (over 3 hours) which had 12 starts – wind shifts, reduced visibility, U flags and black flags – over 10 boats caught out but eventually we were away – and unfortunately, Sumo was one of those who were black flagged.  We had a great final race staying in touch with the leaders all the way around the course, taking a 5th place in the last race. This was good enough for Hephaestus to become Corinthian World Champions.

Consistency in the fleet is key and John Bertrand, sailing with Paul Blowers and Ben Lamb representing Royal Brighton Yacht Club from Australia, was the most consistent of all – and a bullet in the final race took the World Championship – which was a great way to do it! This was his second Etchell world title.

Congratulations also to the RTYC Academy team who took the Next Generation Trophy sailing on Ziggy – the team were: Tim Gratton / Emily Wiltshire / Lilly Carlisle / Jack Davies.