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Etchells Bedrock Trophy at the Royal London Yacht Club

by Laurence Mead 11 Jul 2017 15:45 BST 9 July 2017

There are some days in sailing when it doesn't matter if you are sailing a little boat or a big boat. A slow boat or a fast boat. A professionally crewed boat or as part of a Corinthian team. On those days, when the sun is shining, the water is sparkling and the racecourse beckons, it's just good to be out there.

So it was on Sunday July 9 when the postponement flags went down for the Etchells Bedrock Trophy, the British J 70 Nationals, the Dragon Edinburgh Cup and Panerai Cowes Classic Week all at the same time! The River Medina saw 250 boats of every shape and size and age all heading out to the racecourse and ready to do battle. If the sight didn't make you remind you of your love for the sport nothing will. Everybody had been waiting for the south-westerly sea breeze to finally come in and dominate the apparently weaker south-easterly and for the dozen Etchells competing for the Bedrock Trophy, watching that battle turned out to be the majority of the day.

A race was finally held after a few false starts only one race was sailed on the Sunday. Luckily the regatta had kicked off the day before in a South-westerly sea breeze (again after a postponement) when 3 great races were sailed.

Maybe it was the sun that was making Cowes more like Sydney or maybe it was just raw talent (your correspondent can't even remember how many titles Palfrey / Jarvin and Mayo have in the class) but the visiting Australian team of Andrew "Dog" Palfrey (on the stick for a change rather than running the boat from the bow and standing in for Graeme Taylor), Steve Jarvin and James Mayo (both of who normally sail with Graeme Taylor and were the 2016 and 2017 Australian Champions) completely dominated the day. Sailing the new David Heritage built boat, launched only the day before for Taylor and his team, they took the fleet apart with good race positioning up the first beats and solid boat on boat tactics whenever they were threatened from behind.

In the first race David Bedford and Duncan Truswell sailing with stand in helm Tom Clay in his first experience in the class kept them honest but couldn't stop the new boat winning its first ever start and in race two Peter Rogers Ben Cooper and Neil "Jaffa" Harrison took over the role of harassing the Australians, but also failed to find a way past.

In race three Robert Elliott making one of his first appearances in the fleet this year and starting his tune up for the worlds in San Francisco in September with his crew of double world champion Stuart Childerley and newcomer to the fleet Thomas Forrester Coles took over the number 2 slot, but there was no dislodging Palfrey, Jarvin and Mayo. They ended the day with three bullets from the three races sailed and a very commanding position. Not bad for a bowman was a claim heard on the dock which underplays the fact that Palfrey is one of the best sailors in the world even though he rarely steers.

Behind them the fleet was a distant second but the youth team of Jack Sharland, Tommy Hough, Daniel Wotton and Rosie Watkins had put their boat on the podium in race one and Ted Blowers, Ollie Aldridge, Harry Bowerman and Harry Blowers did the same in the third race of the day, reinforcing the value of the Royal London Yacht Club Youth Academy program within the Etchells fleet.

The Etchells has been around as a One Design fleet for a long time but it continues to offer brilliant racing with the age range spanning nine-year-old Zach Chappels on GBR 1148 "Silver Lining" right up to the more seasoned members of the fleet in their early 70s who are very competitive across the wind ranges. With a crew of either three or four up the class offers some of the most competitive one-design racing in the Solent for all ages and crew weights.

So Sunday dawned with a long wait for wind and then the aforementioned glorious sail out to the racecourse amongst hundreds of boats all enjoying a brilliant Sunday on the Solent.

Against all expectations while the fleet waited for the usual south westerly the competing south-easterly sea breeze finally settled in long enough at 2 PM for the Etchells fleet to get in a fourth, and what became final race of the regatta. The fact that the fleet got a race in at all was testament to the persistence of Royal London YC's PRO Jamie Clark. Despite much advice from the fleet as to his options Jamie stuck it out and quickly laid a good course as soon as there was enough wind to do so making sure that the day has some racing despite the vagaries of a strange wind day on the Bramble Bank.

With a short first leg there was a desire among the fleet to start to the right and retain the starboard tack advantage but the two left-hand boats off the start line, being Shaun Frohlich and Murray Chapples did in the end have enough left hand action to cross and lead the race at the top mark. These two battled it out all the way round in a solid 8 to 10 knot breeze but were joined by Robert Elliott and by Rob Goddard (Paul Williams, Margarida Lopes and Isabelle Savage) who both picked up a little right hand shift on the second beat to get into the fray.

In the end Frohlich took the bullet 4 feet in front of a fast finishing Murray Chappels (Laurence Mead and Conrad Manning) but despite their sixth place in the only race of the day there was no stopping Palfrey / Jarvin and Mayo who easily took the 2017 Bedrock Trophy back to Australia. All in all a fabulous two days racing on the Costa del Solent!

Next up for the fleet is Cowes Week and then the Southern Area championships at the end of August.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat nameCrewR1R2R3R4Pts
1  GBR 1438Magpie Andrew Palfrey / Steve Jarvin / James Mayo11169
2  GBR 1437Exabyte 7Shaun Frohlich / Shaun Frohlich / David Bedford / Duncan Truswell236112
3  GBR 1439Bon VivantRobert Elliott / Stuart Childerley / Tom Forrester‑Coles442313
4  GBR 1441HighlifePeter Rogers / Ben Cooper / Neil Harrison724417
5  GBR 1148Silver LiningMurray Chapples658221
6  GBR 1329Stampede (Corinthian)Rob Goddard / Paul Williams / Margarida Lopes / Isabelle Savage865524
7  GBR 982PulseJack Sharland / Tommy Hough / Daniel Wootton / Rosie Watkins3810930
8  GBR 1020SumoTed Blowers / Oli Aldridge / Harry Bowerman / Harry Blowers11731132
9  GBR 1194ManoMichael Lee / Ian Walter / Jaimie Jobson5119732
10  GBR 1351Chameleon (Corinthian)Louis Kenna / Victoria Ackhurst / Sophie Heritage / Katie Tomsett10971036
11  GBR 1431Strait Dealer GBRDavid Franks / Graham Sunderland / Mark Lees / Kate Devereux910RET839