Since its introduction in 1967 this 9.5m open day boat, sailed by crews of three or four, has earned a reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive keelboat classes in the world. The class attracts top international sailors including many Olympic and America’s Cup veterans and the title of Etchells World Champion is regarded as one of the most coveted in yachting
The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club hosted the highly successful 2006 Etchells European Championship and its reputation for excellence in race management and outstanding hospitality made it the obvious choice to host the 2007 Worlds. PRO Tony Lovell, one of the UK’s foremost race officers, will head up the race committee and the International Jury will be chaired by Canada’s Andy Wardle.
"Cowes is the epicentre of Etchells racing in the UK and we are really looking forward to welcoming many overseas friends and expect strong representation from the USA and Australia where there are the largest Etchells fleets. With the excellent management of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club we will be providing first class racing and enjoying the excellent hospitality of Cowes in full season," said Mike Till, Chairman, UK Etchells Class
Only the very best teams from each country will be invited to compete and each National Etchells Class has or is about to run selection trials to decide who will qualify. Only 40% of each national fleet will be eligible to attend so competition for places is extremely tight.
One man who doesn’t have to face the selection procedure is current World Champion Jud Smith, from Marblehead, Massachusetts, who is automatically eligible to defend his title. One of North America’s top sailors, Jud is a long time supporter of the Etchells and has won many previous titles including three Etchells North American Championships. Jud will be chartering a boat from Cowes based Etchells builder David Heritage and plans to spend time practising on the Solent in advance of the Championship.
Another international competitor who has already qualified for the championship is New Zealand’s rising star Alastair Gair and his young crew from Auckland, who came a close second to Jud at the 2006 Worlds in Perth and are the current New Zealand Etchells National Champions.
Although the UK qualifying trials have yet to be completed those hoping to be part of the strong British home team include Nils and Ante Razmilovic, whose brotherly rivalry in the class is legendary. Ante was top performing Brit at the 2006 Worlds finishing in third place and will be hoping for even greater glory in 2007. Nils wasn’t able to attend the ‘06 Worlds so definitely has something to prove this time around.
Former Olympian Andy Beadsworth, who came fourth at the ‘06 Worlds, is another leading British candidate. Andy came to prominence as a youth in the Laser before going on to represent Britain in the Soling at the Savannah and Sydney Olympics and win no less than five British National Match Racing Championships.
The Etchells World Championship racing will take place on the world renowned sailing waters of the central Solent on windward leeward courses. Immediately prior to the World Championship the Solent will also host the Etchells British National Championship, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble. Racing will run from 16-18 June and although the boats will be based in Hamble they will race on the World Championship waters giving the crews ample opportunity for practise.