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2024 Etchells World Championship Fremantle: Changing of the guard on the cards in Etchells class

by Harry Fisher 23 Feb 15:44 PST 15-22 March 2024
Jason Poutsma's Hustler will compete in the Etchells Worlds in Fremantle © Harry Fisher / Down Under Sail

The future of Etchells sailing in both Western Australia - and right across the nation - is in good hands after a group of young guns won the last race of the WA Etchells States last weekend.

Sailing alongside helmsman Jason Poutsma on Hustler, crew members Xavier Bates, George Elms and Thomas Cooper sailed exceptionally to win the final race of the States against some of the biggest names in yachting.

The weather was very light and extremely shifty and after the first windward mark, the Hustler team had a little bit of work to do to take the lead.

Even sailing in the oldest boat in the fleet with seasoned equipment, they worked hard and made their way through the fleet, finishing the race ahead of stalwarts Peter Merrington on First Tracks and reigning Australian Champion and WA States regatta winner Graeme Taylor on Magpie.

Poutsma said he was thrilled with the result, having personally put years of time and effort into the class and assembling a talented crew for the upcoming Worlds - with youth on his side.

"Our team has such fantastic communication on the boat and we have really gelled since beginning sailing together," he said.

"These guys have done a lot of high-performance sailing and they have just slotted into Etchells racing so seamlessly.

"We're putting the time in on the water with training, even though we don't have the best gear or the newest boat, and we're excited about what we might be able to achieve at the Worlds."

While Poutsma said he was excited about the prospect of a great Worlds result with this team, he said he was most excited about seeing these young sailors develop further and create a love for Etchells racing.

"A lot of the teams we race against tend to sail with older and more experienced sailors, while I want to ensure a strong focus is placed on youth," he said.

"I want to keep sailing with these guys as long as I can, but also want to see them take opportunities in other classes and improve their skills through major events like the upcoming Worlds."

Poutsma, Bates, Elms and Cooper will take to the water on board Hustler for the 2024 Etchells World Championship, which will be hosted in Fremantle from 15-22 March.

The event is expected to bring together a fleet of about 45 boats, which will include some of the sport's top sailors, for a week of glamour racing in Western Australia.

For more information visit www.etchellsworldsfremantle.com

Etchells Worlds media and promotion has been made possible thanks to the support of HillPDA Consulting.

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