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Ante Razmilovic's Swedish Blue crowned 2022 Etchells World Champion

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

Ante Razmilovic's Swedish Blue (GBR 1438) is the 2022 International Etchells World Champion with crew Brian Hammersley and Noel Drennan.

The glitterati of the sailing world gathered in Cowes for the 2022 Etchells Worlds hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron with more than 12 past Etchells World Champions competing. 42 teams gathered in Cowes from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States of America.

Ashore Cowes Yacht Haven was a hive of activity with the 'container marquee' the place to be for daily gatherings to discuss 'all things Etchells'. Royal Yacht Squadron Commodore James Holman gave a warm welcome to the sailors gathered on the RYS Lawn confirming honorary member of the historic club for the regatta. Commodore Holman commented: "This is a genuine world championship, and the Royal Yacht Squadron is very proud to be holding this regatta. The Etchells Class is an elite class in world sailing, and we thank all of the competitors for coming. A huge thanks to Etchells Fleet Captain David Franks, for his drive an initiative."

High pressure produced light airs racing for much of the 2022 Etchells Worlds schedule. The tricky shifting breeze, coupled with the infamous tides of The Solent, produced a complex conundrum for the teams as well as the RYS Race Committee. However, all nine scheduled races were completed.

Race One did not going according to plan for Ante Razmilovic's Swedish Blue (GBR 1438), which opened their scorecard with a gut-wrenching 35th place. However, Swedish Blue went on to win the Etchells Worlds, with an outstanding performance placing no worse than tenth for the remaining eight races. This was Ante Razmilovic's seventh world championship and despite coming runner-up twice and also third, this was his first Etchells World title, as it was for his crew Brian Hammersley and Noel Drennan.

Going into the last race Swedish Blue needed to be within nine places of Anatole Masfen's New Order (NZL 1499). At one stage Swedish Blue was out of the running in 16th place but fought back to finish tenth, enough to secure the Etchells World Championship title.

"I think I have lost in an Etchells Worlds shoot-out three, maybe four times, so it was a big relief after the last race," commented Ante Razmilovic. "The last race was really tricky, we didn't get the best start, and we went pretty hard right when the left came good, but at the first top mark we were still in striking distance. Nitro (Noel Drennan) said we had to pick off five boats and we got there but it was a pressure situation for sure. The heart rate was up but we were focused, and we managed to put it together."

Razmilovic explains why the Etchells Worlds is so hard to win; "The Etchells is a proper one-design keelboat; the margins are really thin. Etchells sailors have been at it for a very long time, and it is very tactical racing. It is challenging, rewarding, and frustrating all at the same time. Massive thanks to Nitro and Brian (Hammersley). This has been tough and gentlemanly racing as always with challenging conditions for the Race Committee to whom we are eternally grateful. The Etchells is an iconic class, and we are really proud to be part of it."

Anatole Masfen's New Order was runner-up, racing with Dirk Kneulman and Simon Cooke. The Kiwi team scored four podium finishes including two race wins. However, New Order was disqualified in Race 6 having touched a mark which ultimately resulted in second place for the regatta. In third place was Lawrie Smith's Mila (GBR 1502), racing with Richard Parslow, Gonçalo Almeida Ribeiro, and Ben Saxton.

The 2022 Etchells Worlds Corinthian Champion was Andrew Lawson's No Dramas (GBR 1490), racing with Graham Vials on the helm and crew Billy Russell. No Dramas was also fifth in the Open Division. Second Corinthian Team was Barry Parkin's Bungee Smuggler (USA 1424), racing with Adrian Owles and Taylor Walker. Third was Nils Razmilovic's Matatu (SGP 1333), racing with Andrew Cooper and Steve Girling.

Andrew Lawson's No Dramas is part of the Clyde Etchells Fleet in Scotland, where a Youth Academy has been established with the help of the Cowes Etchells Fleet. No Dramas helm, Graham Vials is a four-time Flying Fifteen World Champion but prior to the Worlds Vials had raced one day in an Etchells. Billy Russell has been friends with Andrew Lawson since childhood.

"It's been great fun and we sail in a certain manner because we are amateurs," commented No Dramas' Andrew Lawson. "We always do the best we can, but we compete in the spirit of the game and have fun doing it. To be fair, we have a great package; David Heritage builds a good boat, Charlie (Charlie Cumbley/North Sails) provides great sails and top sailors like Andy Beadsworth are always on hand with advice. We have a lot of help from positive people trying to make us go faster. We have loved this event, but it has been tricky racing; The Solent is always hard, and the quality of this fleet is exceptional; it is always great to test yourself."

The Etchells Worlds Youth Champion was Anthony Parke's Shamal (GBR 927), racing with Ross Mackley, Ali Grant, and Josie Meredith. The average age of Shamal was 24 and Josie Meredith was the youngest women competing at just 20 years of age. Second in the Youth Division by a narrow margin was Angus Galloway's Currigee (GBR 957), racing with Matias Sabate, Ben Hazeldine, and Celia Willison. Third was George Downer's Moonlight (GBR 967), racing with Alex Downer and Mike O'Donovan.

"It has been a light wind regatta, but we were pleased that the breeze filled in towards the end," commented Anthony Parke. "We are delighted to have won the Youth Trophy and a big thank you to David Franks for lending us the boat and also Paul Ward and Grant Gordon for providing us with sails."

The youngest team racing was Palaver (GBR 1014) sailed by Kai Hockley (16), Jaydon Owusu (17), and Christopher-Joel Frederick (17), who are all students at the Greig City Academy in Haringey, North London.

"A great opportunity has been given to us," commented Kai Hockley. "To get the boat, the advice, and all the friendly help from all the sailors, is just great, we can't thank everybody enough. The Etchells Class is so competitive; there are amateurs racing against Olympians, but this a one-design class, so the only way to win is to be the best sailors. Our team is getting more experience, and this will help us on the road to hopefully match the best."

"We started off with just one youth boat for the Cowes Etchells Academy, now we have six, and over 700 young sailors have got onto the water with the UK Etchells Fleet," commented UK Etchells Class Captain, David Franks, who is a generous Etchells Youth Academy supporter.

Over a third of the sailors taking part in the 2022 Etchells Worlds are classified as youths, including seven on the helm. The youth sailors come from nine different countries; Argentina, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.

The 2023 International Etchells World Championship will be in held in Miami, USA from April 12-21. In March 2024 in Fremantle Australia, 2025 in Melbourne, Australia, 2026 in San Diego USA, and 2027 in Hong Kong.

Full Results:

Open Division

1. Swedish Blue, GBR1438, Ante Razmilovic / Brian Hammersley / Noel Drennan
2. New Order, NZL1499, Anatole Masfen / Dirk Kneulman / Simon Cooke
3. Mila, GBR1502, Lawrie Smith / Richard Parslow / Gonçalo Almeida Ribeiro / Ben Saxton

Corinthian Division

1. No Dramas, GBR 1490, Andrew Lawson / Graham Vials / Billy Russell
2. Bungee Smuggler, USA 1424, Barry Parkin / Adrian Owles / Taylor Walker
3. Matatu SGP 1333, Nils Razmilovic / Andrew Cooper / Steve Girling

Youth Division

1. Shamal, GBR 927, Anthony Parke / Ross Mackley / Ali Grant / Josie Meredith
2. Currigee, GBR 957, Angus Galloway / Matias Sabate / Ben Hazeldine / Celia Willison
3. Moonlight, GBR 967, Moonlight George Downer / Alex Downer / Mike O'Donovan

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