Etchells News

Chairman’s message October 2018

Posted November 09, 2018

Chairman’s Report - October 2018

On this the 50th anniversary of the Etchells Class I thank the Brisbane Etchells fleet and the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for the many years of hard work and preparation to hold this year’s Etchells World Championship.  All the volunteers that have been involved with this endeavour led by Mr David Irvine, Mr David Healey, and Mr Noel Paterson deserve recognition and thanks.  I look forward to a week of world class sailing at this superb venue.

Thank you to the current IGC governors for your contribution throughout the year.  Vice Chairman Tim Patton has been a great assistance to me and the IGC.  I also especially thank governors David Ritchard, Senet Bischoff, Argyle Campbell, and David Clark (who are all retiring this year) for their hard work on the IGC and support of the class.

Since the 2017 San Francisco Worlds the IGC has held two additional meetings in an effort to ensure that this 2018 World Championship and the class functions as smoothly as possible.

David Ritchard as international treasurer has done a marvellous job with the assistance of our Executive Secretary Sherri Campbell to ensure the Class’s finances are in great shape.

As you would be aware the IGC governors are volunteers and do their best to accommodate the wishes of the Etchells fleets and members.  I am incredibly pleased that the IGC consists of governors from throughout the world fleets with a diverse range of opinions which lead to strong and considered discussion, with the ultimate benefactors being the class and its sailors.

I congratulate Noel Paterson, David Ritchard, and Kers Clausen on becoming life members of the class.  They have all in their own way been huge contributors over many, many years and thoroughly deserve this recognition.

As with all sailing classes and sailing generally throughout the world the Etchells class faces many challenges in the future (as I’m sure it has had over the last 50 years).  It is a wonderfully designed yacht that has stood the test of time, and has proven to be one of the most, if not the most, premium one design keelboat class in the world. 

There is no doubt that the class and the way it operates can be improved.  With the one design mantra firmly fixed in our ideals the IGC will try to implement improvements.

Our annual IGC meeting and the AGM for the class is always held during World Championships where the best of the best come to complete.  It must however be remembered that the strength of the class is often gauged by participation at a local fleet level.  I encourage all the elite and top sailors to engage with and support the local fleets and those that sail in those local fleets not necessarily to achieve at high level but simply to enjoy sailing Etchells and the comradery that sailing Etchells brings.

It is sad that two stalwarts of the class passed away during the year.  The late John McConnell and Colin Smith both gave so much of their time to helping Etchells sailors.  Both will be fondly remembered.

It is my view there is a need to encourage a ‘new generation’ of Etchells sailors in order for the class to flourish.  It is particularly encouraging that a number of fleets are seeing an increase participation in the under 30 years of age group together with greater female participation.  Often it is the work of individuals that leads to this generational change.  David Franks in the United Kingdom, Senet Bischoff and Steve Benjamin in the United States and many others are leading the charge through their hard work.

I am hopeful that over the next year the IGC will be able to implement the following to further grow and strengthen the class:

  1. An improved international website to include up-to-date connectivity with social media and relevant data/communication for all Etchells sailors to access.It is clear that our systems and data collection need to be simple and online for Etchells sailors throughout the world to use. A working group consisting of Jason Hawkins from Queensland, Alex Webster from New Zealand, James Badenach from Hong Kong, myself and Sherri Campbell (to name a few) are all working to achieve the best outcome in this respect.
  2. a new annual regatta to be held in local fleets(if they choose) leading to a short (4 day) World Series Regatta is being implemented to recognise under 30s, Corinthians, and female competitors.It is hoped that the New Zealand fleet led by Governor Anatole Masfen will be able to host the final championship in late 2019.
  3. Rules and measurement - there is always and has always been a need to improve on/’tidy up’ both of these areas in order to keep and strengthen the one design of the Etchells class.  The introduction of new ideas in how Etchells may operate is welcomed but it must be remembered that for many of these improvements there is a requirement for a new or amended class rule which must be approved by the worldwide membership.  It is clear that measurement has become more precise and sailors more demanding in interpreting rules.  The IGC is aware of this and with the ODTC (chaired by Bruce Nelson) and the Chief Measurer work hard in what is often a thankless job to achieve the best result for the class, within the rules of the class.  The IGC will endeavour to tidy up the rules, and make full publication of such on the website, including any interpretations.  In addition the IGC will seek more accurate and efficient ways of measuring boats.

I look forward to the 2019 World Championship in Corpus Christi Texas, where I am told the sailing conditions are amazing.

On behalf of the governors of the IGC I wish all Etchells owners and sailors the best for the 2018/ 2019 sailing season.  

Grantham Kitto – Chairman of International Governors