The Etchells Class Fleet 13 – San Diego sailors are already out on the water preparing their vessels for the Etchells West Coast Spring Series. Coming up soon is the first regatta of the series, the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta/Bill Bennett Cup on March 15-17, 2019. However, the real pressure builds with Regatta #2, the only required regatta of the series with no throw-out option: Etchells Midwinters West.
The Etchells Midwinters West will take place on April 5-7, 2019 on the local course of Coronado Roads. San Diego Yacht Club has been hosting the West Coast Spring Series for five years. The series will encompass four regattas sailed in the Coronado Roads off Point Loma: NOOD, Etchells Midwinters West, Etchells Pacific Coast Championship, and Etchells ORCA Bowl. Participants will enjoy top competition, ideal spring sailing conditions and the SDYC world class facilities.
Last year, 20 teams participated in the Midwinters. For 2019, the number is expected to rise. The score sheet is crucial during the Midwinters West in order to come out on top in the series as a whole. At the end of the series, teams are allowed one throw-out regatta to help their overall standing. The Midwinters West, though, is the only regatta that can’t be thrown out, adding a new level of competition and importance to the weekend.
Steve Hunt, the 2018 Etchells Midwinters first place finisher, explains how he won the regatta last year. “I put together a young and very talented team that hikes hard. I’ve won an Etchells World Championship and done many miles with bowman Erik Shampain. The other two, crew Jake LaDow and Kayla McComb, sailed with me two years before in the Midwinter’s which we also won. They are amazing sailors. I don’t want to race my boat without that team because they are so skillful and fun to be around. During the event we had really good starts and Jake LaDow did a nice job with tactics. It was a tricky non-typical San Diego event.”
“This year I’ll be racing with Jim Cunningham on Team Lifted… We are using this regatta, and the whole series, to prepare for the 2019 Etchells Worlds in Corpus Christi, Texas. While the venues are very different, we will get valuable time racing together as a team,” Hunt continued.
Lifted is not the only team preparing for Worlds on June 24-29, 2019. Several top North American and International Etchells teams are also expected to use the series as a tune up for Worlds.
Etchells are known for their tight races. Typically, there is only a few feet separating the top boats at the end of the 1.5 mile beat. This means close finishes and a range of possibilities on who can take home the trophy. The 2016 WCSS was especially exciting when after 26 races, Bruce Nelson won the WCSS Championship on the last leg of the race of the series by passing two boats.
Revisiting the Etchells fleet this year after spending some time in J/105s is SDYC Member Rick Goebel. “We will really need to work hard to get the Etchells around the course and up to speed as most of our team has not been in the Etchells for several years. The racing will be very tight at the laylines and marks as there is a lot of talent in the local fleet and in the boats travelling to San Diego."
Goebel and his team will be out on the water pre-regatta preparing for the race. “Several of the teams will have a coach and boat and will be on the water early to practice and to tune. This is the best approach for a big regatta as you get the perspective from off the boat and a recap of what went well and what needs work. We will be out the 2 days before each of the regattas as definitely need the time in the boat and this is the best way for us to get settled in prior to the racing.”
The Etchells Fleet 13 – San Diego’s Fleet Captain, Mike Terry, states, “SDYC has had a 20+ year tradition of hosting the Etchells Midwinters West Regatta. Many Etchells sailors from Northern fleets on the West Coast have traditionally moved their boats south to SDYC to extend their season and participate in the Midwinter West and other winter events that SDYC holds for Etchells. Boats from Seattle, San Francisco and Texas have already brought their boats to San Diego to compete.”
Sailors can enjoy a post-race BBQ in the Pavilion after the races on Saturday, April 6. The awards ceremony will be held after racing on Sunday, April 7.
Sponsored by North Sails.