North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Ched Proctor


Etchells Fleet One Celebrates 50th Anniversary

George Francisco’s American Baby (USA 1394) sailing in the light airs which dominated the weekend

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. 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. This was a real shame because the organizers had worked hard to put on such a good event.”

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 Ian Murray’s team to win the recent World Championship in Corpus Christi where Ian 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: sheeting the jib further inboard, smaller lines than seen before, small control lines with appropriate purchases and all the attachment points utilize fittings attached with line glued in place.

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. But a few stepped up and bought boats, Jim Mertz is one name that came up.

Peter Duncan (PD) spoke about crewing for Jim Mertz in the summer when he was 11 years old. He was part of the first four-man Etchells team and he recalled the time they were rounding the jib mark, leading a race in the Larchmont Race Week. The crew included Jim’s wife and ten-time Adams Cup winner, Alegra “Leggy” Mertz, and the large Labrador retriever which cowered by the base of the mast (best place to carry weight in an Etchells!). As they approached the jib mark, there was a flock of ducks making a racket which sprung the dog into action. As 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 sailed with his son Charlie, Monica and Chris Morgan finishing in a respectable sixth place.

View the full results and browse the Etchells Shop Inventory.

Steve Benjamin’s Terrapin (USA 1228) practising the day before the regatta kicked off


North Sails are proud sponsors of the 2019 Etchells U.S. Nationals

Story Contributors

North Sails Supports Etchells U.S. Nationals headshot
Ched Proctor

One Design Expert, Sail Designer — Steelpointe Harbor, Connecticut

Ched Proctor started racing one design sailboats at Scituate Harbor Yacht Club on the south shore of MA when he was 10 and hasn’t stopped. He has worked at North Sails in Wisconsin, Melbourne, Australia (where he and John Bertrand...

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