2015 European Championship
Posted September 13, 2015
The 2015 Etchells European Championship regatta was held over the weekend of the fifth and sixth of September with Peter Taylor as PRO, he was ably assisted by a team of volunteers from the Royal London Yacht Club. The 18 Etchells racers had a light breezes to contend with all weekend.
Saturdays racing started near the easterly end of the Knowl bank, in an effort to obtain some tidal relief, particularly with winds in a northerly direction. So sailing was all about finding the best pressure and picking the correct lifts to sail towards the top mark, with the winding swinging back and forth to the north east, however some competitors frequently found the closer to the shore they sailed ignoring any headers, the stronger the breeze; this made lay line choice very difficult, with most boats taking five or six tacks into the mark in the last quarter mile, including Jeremy Thorpe’s Phan who won the first two races quite convincingly, both races playing out in similar fashion with Phan leading early on in each race, and extending their lead throughout.
In race three, with the shifting breezes the fleet struggled to start cleanly, so PRO Peter Taylor flew the uniform flag at the second starting attempt, but in the oscillating breezes it was too easy to end up on the course side of the line, and three boats did just that, and consequently black flagged, including point’s leader Phan. Going into race three, after finding good boat speed to the finish second in Race 2, Robert Elliott’s Time and Tide went one better taking first place for the final race of the day.
Sunday's forecast looked worrying, Wind Guru was predicting only a five knot gradient breeze, so the chances of sailing did not bode well. But after a short delay the wind stabilised to a north-westerly direction, and so the fleet started in 6 kn breeze.
PRO Peter Taylor in order to offset the right shore tidal advantage set the line with a pin bias, however almost all of the fleet still elected to start by the committee boat, but Shaun Frohlich, sailing Exabyte V for the last time before his new Exabyte VI arrives, started towards the pin on port, and after crossing the fleet was leading towards the shore. This early lead Frohlich soon capitalised on, and he went on to win the two lap race by 800 m from the next boat, while the tail of the fleet struggled on the last leg to make it to the finish line, and one boat that shall remain nameless, was almost swept by the finish line under spinnaker and had to beat the last 50 metres in order to finish the race.
This dropping breeze was the lull before who knows what? And while Frohlich was hoping for an immediate end to the days racing, Thorpe was desperate for the sea-breeze and the fifth race, so that a discard would come into play, this he hoped would enable him to drop his BFD.
After over an hour's delay the south-westerly sea breeze finally developed, and the fifth race was on!
The conditions were 8 to 10 kn of breeze and a cross tide over the race course. Unfortunately Phan did not have their normally well place start for the race 5, and soon found themselves on the wrong end of a lee bow, and having to tack to the unflavoured right where they found themselves towards the back of the fleet, and while to windward they took places, it was on the final run that PRO Peter Taylor's had another tidal offset, which meant that gybes were still called for on the run during which overall victory was sealed, but at the finish it was David Franks' Straight Dealer who took the final race win, with Phan, after their fight back coming third, while Exabyte finished fifth, and the discard came into play.
So it was, Jeremy Thorp, Stuart Childerley and Mark Andrews on Phan who won the Overall Etchells European Championships. The other title winners of the weekend were Rob Goddard, Nigel Whitefield and Dom Mortimer sailing Stampede, who while finishing fifth overall had won the Etchells European Corinthian ISAF Category One Trophy.
Overall winner GBR 1424 Phan pipped into 3rd place on the final race.
Photo credit Teresa Whelan