2013 Etchells Worlds
2012 Etchells Worlds
Etchells at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes
The race team at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes are used to some very close racing when they host the Etchells class for one of the premier regattas of the Etchells calendar, and 2012 was no exception as the fleet competed for the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy for the 17th year.
The final result came down to a last race tie-breaker and several of the races were decided only as multiple bows cut through the finishing line together. With numbers in the Etchells already starting to rebuild towards the 2016 Worlds to be held in Weymouth, it was however a disappointing entry that made its way to the start on Saturday morning with the fleet thinned by University exams, a downside to the positive that the fleet now has some very much younger members sailing in the class. However, quality was not an issue with perennial Worlds contender Ante Razmilovic back in the Cowes fleet sailing “Palaver” while he waits for his own boat to return from the recent Sydney Worlds.
Race 1 started in a light SW breeze with Laurence Mead / Phil Lawrence and Tom Whitburn winning the pin and heading off up the beat. To windward Andrew Cooper / Ed Grieg and Doug Neville Jones had a very good start and with the puffs rolling down from the right they led at the top mark with Rob Goddard in close attendance also coming from the right. The runs were hard work in the light breeze and with an ebb tide there was a good case for getting a gybe in early, and, after a slow start from dirty air at the pin Ante Razmilovic worked this best, slowly but surely move up the fleet into 2nd. Nobody was going to catch Cooper however who continued his fine form of the 2012 season so far to take the first bullet, despite a big drop in breeze at the last mark, which almost enabled Nick Stagg, sailing with Richard Hinde Smith and Kim Ridge to pass Mead. David Franks had a good last run to take 3rd.
Race 2 kicked off in a tad more breeze, 6 to 7 knots with a hint more West in it and once again Mead took the pin. This time he shot away from the pack to build a good lead. He had a bit more wind to leeward than in race 1 and with pace he built and the protected a good lead. Razmilovic again showed his ability to chip away at the front of the fleet to get back to another solid 2nd despite another less than stellar start. Andrew Cooper took 3rd and headed the fleet at this early stage of a 6 race, one throw-out regatta.
Race 3 took an interesting turn when Mead and Razmilovic became entangled in a battle for the pin which ended with Mead taking it while Razmilovic had to try to pinch round it only to hit the mark and be forced into re-rounding. Mead was off again and led the race until the final run when in protecting his position from Andrew Cooper, a move which entailed another early gybe, both the top 2 watched helplessly as David Franks / Graham Sunderland / Piers Strong and Matt Rainback (the latter new young sailors who have joined the class post the RYA Youth trials weekend) got a bit more pressure to soak down the middle of the track into the lead.
So, day 1 ended with Mead and Cooper tied on 7 points, Franks on 8 and Razmilovic on 9 points, having never fully recovered from his starting issues in the last race of the day. As usual, points were tight at the top!
Day 2 dawned with a forecast for 14 to 18 knots from the NE and while it only rarely got to the top end of that range, day 2 was a very different affair with a strong right-to-left cross tide to contend with up the beats, and, as ever in the Solent, plenty of shifts when the northerly is coming off the land. The fleet lined up and Mead went for the “don’t get trapped left” plan by starting on port and ducking the fleet to ensure he was first onto port and heading upwind across the tide. The big issue for everybody else was making sure they didn’t overstand and despite having to duck just about the whole fleet Mead’s strategy paid off big time when the wind went left as well and the bunch at the pin ended up well overstood as they came back onto port. This really hurt Razmilovic who had won the pin but couldn’t get a tack in, and helped both “Stampede” (Rob Goddard / Marcos Vivian and Matt Pidsley) and Roger Reynolds / Markus Frith and Rory Munro on “Shamal” who had tacked early. Mead led round the windward mark but fluffed his hoist and was rolled by both Goddard and David Franks, and with the wind staying left 20 degrees, Goddard flew round the course showing great composure in his new boat to score his first bullet in GBR1329. Franks never looked like losing 2nd and Reynolds was unlucky to lose 3rd at the last leeward mark when Mead was able to just get water and squeeze round inside. From Mead’s perspective this was either 2 points dropped - after leading at the top mark first time round - or one point gained right at the end. That became very relevant in the fullness of time!
Race 5 and there was an OCS gun which 2 boats went back for, was that all that were over however? The course was much longer this time and although the runs were a bit one-sided to allow for the tidal offset upwind, the beats were a real challenge with lots of place changing on the short shifts that were rolling through, which combined with the cross tide made for some very tight racing. The runs were also pretty busy with nobody wanting to get caught down tide (where there was also less wind) meaning that there was a lot more luffing and aggressive protecting of positions than is sometimes the case on a windward leeward course. Razmilovic had a few looks at the windward side of Mead’s boat, Andrew Cooper had a few runs at passing Franks to windward as well but everybody worked it out in the end and no protests were forthcoming. “Fast, Fun and Ferocious” says the new Etchells poster and all 3 were in evidence on this run alone! Mead led up the last beat and went to cover Razmilovic who was his nearest challenger, only to see David Franks team catching a righty at the very end of the race such that both boats were overlapped at the finish with Franks winning it by about 18 inches. It turned out that Mead had been covering a boat who was OCS anyway so this proved to be an unfortunate choice! Roger Reynolds got another great 4th place showing good speed up the beats in particular. So, going into the last race the points showed that David Franks was leading by a point from Mead, with Cooper another 2 back.
The start was heavily influenced by a left shift with 45 seconds to go, not massive but enough to make the pin a tight lay for those chasing after it and Mead missed it, carried past by the tide whilst Razmilovic also got there early and was OCS. They both gybed round and headed off on port while the rest of the fleet set off into 14 knots of breeze on starboard. At the top Mead had made a lucky comeback when he got enough righty in the breeze to get back to the leaders half way up the leg. With class newcomer Nick Stagg showing excellent form to be clean round and gone, Franks and Rob Goddard had very tight turns to make from the port tack layline, which allowed Mead to bear away faster and get his bow inside them both as they went to hoist chutes. For Franks this was a disaster, as he was set up for a gybe-set and unable to get that done with Mead on starboard inside him. He ended up with his chute wrapped around the headstay while Meads team hoisted and gybed and were in a good position heading down the first run. However, a bit more wind to the right (looking downwind) saw Nick Stagg continuing to lead at the leeward mark with Mead just getting an overlap on Goddard for 2nd. At this stage Mead had the regatta in the bag with Franks well back and that status looked even stronger when he got a few shifts to take the lead.
Franks was not put off however and he sailed himself back into 2nd up the beat, such that both boats were then counting 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4. Exactly the same points, both before and after discard, and exactly the same score line. It was going to come down to a last race tie break which went to Mead as he sailed the rest of the course untroubled to win both the last race and the 2012 Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy. Despite having had a slightly less good day on Sunday Andrew Cooper did enough for 3rd overall and has shown that when his new boat comes out of David Heritages yard shortly he will be at the at the top of the fleet. Ante Razmilovic also has the return of his own boat to look forward to and with University exams over before the next regatta the youth teams will be back out and undoubtedly making their presence felt as well. For those boats not attending the Europeans in Italy the same weekend the fleet are back out for the Cowes Keelboat Series on June 9th and 10th and then the next big one on the Etchells calendar, The Bedrock Trophy on June 23rd and 24th.
For more information go to www.etchellsukfleet.co.uk or Cowes Etchells Group on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/etchellscowes/