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Etchells Atlantic Coast Championship at American Yacht Club - Day 1

by American Yacht Club 19 May 2018 20:34 PDT 19-20 May 2018
2018 Etchells Atlantic Coast Championship - Day 1 © Tim Wilkes /

The Etchells Atlantic Coast Championship hosted by American Yacht Club kicked off today on the Long Island Sound with breeze over 20 mph and waves over 6 feet. While not a day for the casual sailor, seasoned veterans embraced the conditions. Among them was current Etchells World Champion, Steve Benjamin who commented, "we as sailors sometimes get nervous here in America that we don't sail in heavy enough wind. And when we get great conditions like today, it's great that we actually had a race committee that will hold the races. They started right on time. They decided to have two races which was fine with us. I was pretty cold. But those were two superb races in very challenging conditions."

The race committee's efforts made this possible and two races seemed to be the best balance for keeping the sailors happy in the unseasonably chilly late May weather. Winning the first race and holding onto the top spot after day one, was the 2017 North American Champion, Scott Kaufman from the New York Yacht Club. Holding a close second and tied on points, was Jose Fuentes from Annapolis Yacht Club. William Douglass and his crew on Goombay Smash sit in third only two points behind the leaders.

To help shake off the cold and wet weather, sailors were greeted on the shore with belly-warming chili and crisp beer provided by Carlsburg. For wine aficionados, fine Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc were provided by Landmark Vineyards and JUSTIN Winery.

Warmer temperatures will return for tomorrow and so may a few afternoon thunderstorms followed by clearing skies. If all goes well, the fleet will enjoy a few more competitive races, then a prize-giving celebration on American Yacht Club's picturesque lawn at the tip of the Peningo Neck peninsula.

The International Etchells Class has a long history dating back to 1966 when E. W. "Skip" Etchells, a boat designer and sailor built the boat for trials for a new three man Olympic keelboat. Despite having the best performance of the contenders, the Etchells (known as the E22 at the time) was not chosen. However, the boat's performance won over many sailors and the fleet flourished in the years to follow.

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