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Etchells Worlds - Preview report from San Francisco

by Leslie Richter on 27 Sep 2017
Tight racing during the SFYC’s Easom Founder Regatta / Pre-Worlds on September 16-17, 2017. Leslie Richter
Editor's Note: At the time of publishing, the Etchells boats are still racing. A 2.5 hour postponement was held up early to let the breeze fill in. Cumulative results not available yet...

The 2017 Etchells World Championship, hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club, kicks off on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 with the first of five days of racing on San Francisco Bay (nine races are scheduled). Fifty-one teams representing ten countries will be competing in the area known as the Berkeley Circle. This is the fourth time that the Etchells World Championships are being held in San Francisco Bay.

Racing will be incredibly close among this international Etchells fleet, renowned for its deep talent pool comprising a plethora of Olympic, world, national, and local champions. The outcome of this year’s world championship is anything but certain. “Any of the top 25 boats could win this regatta and no one would be surprised,” said local Bay Area sailor Don Jesberg who will count three-time Etchells World Champion Bill Hardesty among his crew on Viva. Bill Barton, with nine Etchells Worlds under his belt, agreed, “There are so many great sailors – it will be a great battle to see who is most consistent.” Barton will be sailing on his old boat, the oldest in the competition, 666, but this time as crew to skipper Chris Kostanecki.

The recent SFYC Easom Founders Regatta provided a preview into how close the racing would be. After two days of racing in big late summer breeze, Steve Benjamin’s (USA) Stella Blue claimed first place with Graeme Taylor’s (AUS) Magpie close behind in second, and Iain Murry’s (AUS) Northern Havoc in third, in a fleet of 32 boats. Jim Cunningham’s (USA) Lifted won the Easom Founders perpetual trophy which goes to the top finisher in the local fleet. Named after Bay Area sailing legend Hank Easom, the regatta honors Easom for bringing the first Etchells to San Francisco Bay in 1975, and starting fleet 12.

Peter Duncan’s (USA) Oatmeal was unable to sail in the pre-world event because he was busy winning the J/70 World Championship in Sardinia. “I love sailing in San Francisco Bay, it’s such a terrific venue, and there is an amazing group of competitors among both skippers and crew.” Duncan, sailing with former Etchells champion Jud Smith, and longtime crew, Thomas Blackwell, is just one of the talented teams to watch this week.

As we count down to Tuesday’s start, the San Francisco Yacht Club docks and harbor are buzzing with Etchells energy as weigh-ins, sail and equipment measurement, and last minute boat prep fill the sailors days. A practice race is scheduled for Monday, September 25th.

For complete regatta information, please see the event website.
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