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2022 International Etchells Class Pre-Worlds at Cowes - Day 2

by Louay Habib 12 Sep 2022 05:36 BST 10-12 September 2022

Racing action got under way for the second day of the Etchells Pre-Worlds with two windward leeward races in a south easterly breeze in the Eastern Solent. Peter Duncan's Oatmeal (USA 1453) took the first race win and Lawrie Smith's Mila (GBR 1502) took the gun in Race Two.

Peter Duncan finished the day with the best cumulative score. Ante Razmilovic's Swedish Blue (GBR 1438) scored a consistent 6-3, finishing just one point off pole position. James Markby's Arena (GBR 1470) scored a 7-5 to finish in third place after two races. Lawrie Smith's Mila is fourth, and Shaun Frohlich's Exabyte (GBR 1459) fifth.

The latest results can be found here...

Generally, the wind was backing to the east, but also veering to the west, with a strong westerly current for most of the day. Action in the combat zone started in about eight knots of shifty breeze, piping up to 12 knots during the day.

The Royal Yacht Squadron Race Team, led by PRO Paul Jackson, was applauded for providing excellent racing. Monitoring the shifty breeze, and changing the course length and axis accordingly, the Etchells fleet had a cracking day on the water.

Olympic and America's Cup sailor, Mark Mendelblatt is racing with past Etchells World Champion Peter Duncan, and two-time Etchells World Champion Dog Palfrey.

"Light air, shifty wind and a ton of current, difficult conditions for the race committee and the sailors," was Mendelblatt's summary of today. "Sometimes the wind would come and override the current favour, but it was a tricky day. In the first race we got a lousy start and tacked out right. It worked out as we tacked back and got a good line without having to dip anybody. We got some luck there, but we sailed a good first beat to get into second by the top mark."

Mark Mendelblatt has raced Etchells since 1995 and is a regular competitor in the Biscayne Fleet, Miami Florida which typically has 50 to 90 boats on a start line. Six teams from the USA are competing at the Etchells Pre-Worlds.

"I have to say the Etchells Class has never been as hard to win as it is now, it is a very high level. So, coming to a tricky place like The Solent, and seeing all these British teams here, including young teams, is really great for the class. This may not be the biggest fleet of Etchells, but it is a deep fleet and extremely talented. The Etchells Class is really an Olympic calibre class, to win at this level, you have to put in the time and the effort. There are a lot of teams that are really going for it." Commented Mendelblatt.

Jamie McWilliam's Macho Grande (HKG 1407) is one of two teams racing at the regatta from Hong Kong. Alongside McWilliam on Macho Grande is Jamie Boag with Oliver Boote on the bow. Macho Grande won the pin in both of today's races, but an uber negative windshift; first beat Race One, cost the team dearly. Race Two, Macho Grande nailed the pin again, and this time led the fleet for much of the race, before Lawrie Smith's Mila sailed to the front, winning by two boat lengths.

"In Hong Kong and local club fleets elsewhere, the top third of the fleet are seriously good, the middle third are great sailors, and the bottom third like the social side and enjoy their racing. Here it's the top third from everywhere!" commented Jamie McWilliam. "Basically, when you get into trouble in this fleet, you can't recover, and that is what happened to us in the first race.

In the second race, we came off the top mark in good shape and we were weighing up the tidal situation with the dirty air. We held our line as we were in the lead, so other people would have to make the moves to pass us. However, when you are boating along with one of the favourites for the Worlds (Lawrie Smith's Mila), you can't help but look at the differences in how they sail their boat. Mila was quicker than us for sure and also looked really stable."

McWilliam has been racing Etchells at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for decades, where 30 boats are regularly racing with an average turnout of 20 boats during their nine-month season. "Coming here we can find out if we are as good as we think we are!" continued Jamie. "You are testing yourself against some of the best sailors in the world. After we finish our racing here, I am sure we will be a better team for the experience, and we will return to Hong Kong and share everything we have learnt."

Racing at the 2022 Etchells Pre-Worlds will conclude tomorrow, Monday September 12, with two more races scheduled in The Solent organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron.

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