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North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Skip Dieball, Eric Doyle
Images © Leslie Richter


San Francisco Yacht Club hosts top Etchells sailors in the country, North Sails clients place top five overall and 1st place Corinthian

Stella Blue, 2017 World Champions!

On Tuesday September 26th, 51 of the world’s top Etchells teams gathered at SFYC for the opening day of the 2017 Etchells World Championship. The day began with a postponement on the water until the breeze filled in, but the fleet was able to sail two good races in challenging conditions. Winning the sides paid off, and those who got stuck in the middle felt the wrath of sailing amidst the competitive fleet.

Sailing was tough in this fleet – some would say tough is an understatement. Tuning, rigging, and sail set up made the difference between the front of the pack and the back of the fleet.  North Sails Expert, Skip Dieball was on board Warcanoe and said there was always a constant flow of information about boat set up, since that was one of few things each team could actually control:

“Because the fleet is so tight and the sailors are top of the line, it never really felt great with our lanes being so thin and everyone’s speed is very much equal in comparison.”

Day two of the event was very much like day one; light air early on, building to wet and wild conditions. The RC postponed competitors onshore until proper racing conditions filled in for the afternoon. With a little extra prep time with their boats, sailors gained a sense of relaxation and the opportunity to get their heads in the game. When it came time to race, the wind gods provided great sailing conditions and two very competitive races were added to the scoresheet.

Thursday’s breeze filled in much earlier, allowing the fleet to launch on time. Race five provided winds between 10-12 knots, with the right side of the first leg being favored. Because this fleet is so tight competitively, sailors were forced to balance course tactics with fleet management. The windward mark roundings were a test for all, whether you worked the favored side of the course or not.

Throughout the first race of the day the wind was increasing and built to a solid 15-18 knots by the start of race six. Conditions downwind were perfect for the Etchells. Surfing and being able to connect the wave pattern gave a ton of power and speed. Carving down waves was vital, as Etchells rely on their edges in bigger breeze. Senet Bischoff and his team on KGB extended his lead in race six after taking a bullet. The top of each fleet was tight in scores, with still plenty of chances for big gains to be made with just a few points.

Friday was wet and wild one. Steve Benjamin’s North-powered Stella Blue moved up to first overall, with Magpie close behind in second place. KGB still held on to first in the Corinthian division, and was in third overall going into the day.
Saturday the scoreboard was solidified for good.

Congratulations to 2017 Etchells World Champs, Stella Blue, with Steve Benjamin at the helm and David Hughes, Ian Liberty, and Michael Menninger rounding out the crew. Stella Blue also took first in the Masters and Senior divisions. Congrats to Dirk Kneulman and team on Tiburon for being the top boat in the grand masters division and Senet Bischoff’s KGB for winning the corinthian division.

Learn more about Worlds-winning Etchells products from North by clicking here, or contact your local expert.

Story Contributors

2017 Etchells World Championship headshot
Skip Dieball

One Design Expert, Sail Expert — Detroit, Michigan

Skip has been a member of the North Sails team since 1997 and is currently a sales consultant based in the Midwest USA. He has over 25 years of industry experience under his belt and has worked in our lofts in Detroit,...

2017 Etchells World Championship headshot
Eric Doyle

One Design Expert — San Diego, California

Eric was raised in Pass Christian along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he learned at a ripe young that he was hooked on sailing. After attending Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL, he was scooped up by Hall of Famer...