American Yacht Club, located in Rye, NY delivered more summer than fall weather for the 2019 Etchells U.S. Nationals. The hot temperatures created instability in the breeze making it difficult for the Race Committee to complete races, but they did the best they could with the conditions they had. Frustratingly, this meant that only four races were completed in the three-day regatta.
Talking about the event, North Sails Ched Proctor explains the tricky conditions: “It was light air with a lot of goofiness, often coming down to catching puffs of air which scattered the race course. The organizers worked hard to put on a good event, so it was a shame the wind didn’t cooperate.”
Jim Cunningham (Etchells International Class Chairman) and his team of Erik Shampian, Steve Hunt and Carrie Wiley onboard Lifted (USA 1461) took the title after achieving consistent, top ten results throughout. New boat Lifted was sailed by Iain Murray’s team to win the recent World Championship in Corpus Christi where Iain thought outside the box with the boats rigging and sail set-up. Whilst the fleet waited for wind on Saturday morning, it provided great entertainment with easy viewing of Lifted’s several unique features which allowed the jib to be sheeted further inboard and and smaller lines with more appropriate purchases to make things easier.
Although the racing was not as prominent, class camaraderie was top notch. While waiting for wind, the fleet spent time together sharing stories about the past. This is a great indicator of how important it is to bond with your fleet members!
50th Anniversary Stories To Remember
Formed in 1969, the Saturday night dinner celebrated the 50th anniversary of Etchells Fleet One with several speakers coming to laud the Etchells sailors. Dewy Eisdale referred to the founding members going against the club traditions, saying “there’d never be an Etchells fleet here”. The IOD was the boat of choice at the time, but a few stepped up and bought an Etchells. Jim Mertz is one name that came up, which then initiated a great fleet story to share in the downtime.
Peter Duncan (PD) spoke about crewing for Jim Mertz one summer when he was 11 years old. He was part of the first four-man Etchells team and he recalled one funny yet exciting time when they were rounding the offset mark, while leading a race in the Larchmont Race Week. The crew was composed of Jim’s wife and ten-time Adams Cup winner, Alegra “Leggy” Mertz, and a large Labrador retriever which ideally cowered by the base of the mast (best place to carry weight in an Etchells!). As they approached the offset, there was a flock of ducks making a racket which sprung the dog into action, along with the crew. Jim jibed the boat trimming both sheets, he also grabbed the dog by the tail performing a dog-flip, slinging it forward over Leggy’s shoulder into the front of the cockpit. 11 year old PD managed to jibe the pole, while viewing the flying Labrador. As they calmly sailed away from the jibe mark, Jim commented “Good job PD”.
The stories kept on coming – multi-time World Champion Dave Curtis talked about four ways to lose an Etchells Worlds that he should have won and reviewed the losing tactics in the 1980 Olympic trials. It was a reunion for several long-time Etchells sailors.
North Sails was proud to sponsor the Etchells U.S. Nationals and despite the conditions, the top twelve boats used North Sails. Ched Proctor sailed with his son Charlie, and friends Monica and Chris Morgan who finished in a respectable sixth place.