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2022 International Etchells Worlds at the Royal Yacht Squadron - Day 2

by Louay Habib 21 Sep 2022 21:00 BST 18-24 September 2022

Racing got under way at the Etchells World Championship organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron, with one race held just off Hill Head in The Solent. A light but stable 7-9 knots from the south-southeast were the conditions for most of the day.

The intention to run a second race was curtailed by the breeze dropping, but there was satisfaction in finally getting world championship racing for the 42 Etchells teams.

Steve Benjamin's Stella Blue (USA 1427) carved out a lead from the first top mark and held off the competition to take the first race win at the 2022 Etchells Worlds. Andrew Lawson's Corinthian team racing No Dramas (GBR 1490) was second. Martin Hill's Australian team on Lisa Rose (AUS 1505) completing the Race One podium. Second to No Dramas in the Corinthian Division was Barry Parkin's Bungee Smuggler (USA 1424) and third was Hugh Greville's Hera (USA 1221).

Results from the 2022 Etchells Worlds Championship at yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=15098

Today's race-winning skipper Steve Benjamin won the Worlds in 2017 and is once again racing in Cowes with two of his crew from that triumph; Dave Hughes and Ian Liberty.

"I don't look around, but I could see at the start we only had five or so boats to the left of us, so most of the fleet went right. I didn't see a lot of the boats until we tacked onto Port, which was a bit of a worry" commented Steve Benjamin. "The boat felt fast, and we thought we had good breeze where we were, and it was great to be first to the top mark. We only made a few tacks in this race, so everything went very well today but it is only Race One."

Mike Buckley completes the Stella Blue team, and while Mike has raced with Benjamin in the past, he is new to the Etchells team. "We started in the middle of the line because this event may not have many races, so we kept our first start as conservative as we could. We are focused on scoring single digit race finishes," commented Buckley. "We tacked underneath the lay line on the first beat and let the current takes us up. If you are fast and there is good boat handling it makes the tactics a whole lot easier."

Just two boat lengths behind Stella Blue at the finish was Andrew Lawson's No Dramas. Andrew works the bow, while Billy Russell is on trim and Graham Vials is on the helm. Lawson and Vials race in the Flying Fifteen Class, in which Vials is a four-time world champion, but he only stepped into an Etchells this year.

"This is only day three in an Etchells for me, so second was way above expectations!" commented Graham Vials. "Tactically we are fine, but we could definitely do with more time on the water. We started near the middle of the line to keep our options open, as it looked pretty even on which side to go, and I didn't want to get committed to one side at the start. We sailed a conservative first beat but got to the top mark in third. It was quite tricky on the first run, but we were fast and got into some good lanes. On the second beat the pressure looked good on the left and although there was better tide on the right, the wind was going lighter. It is great to be racing against top sailors, we had the Aussie team with Mat Belcher on board (Lisa Rose) breathing down our neck. We did well to loose-cover, and we were all smiles when we crossed the line."

Racing at the 2022 Etchells World Championship, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron, continues Thursday 22nd September. For regular updates, pictures and results follow the UK Etchells Fleet Facebook page www.facebook.com/UKEtchellsFleet

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