The Etchells Class has made a strong comeback at Cowes Harbour Commission’s Shepards Wharf Marina over the past three years, growing from a fleet of just four to currently over 20 boats. Worldwide the boats attract some of the top sailors globally including, as regular racers, America’s Cup winner for Australia in 1983 John Bertrand, and legendary America’s Cup sailor Dennis Connor.
The Etchells Class celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016 when the World Championships will be held in the UK. This year’s 2014 World Championships were recently held in Newport (Rhode Island) where the event attracted an impressive 95 entries, including seven boats from Cowes. Ante Razmilovic, who sails with the Cowes Fleet, came second, a wonderful achievement. Another Cowes Fleet member, Robert Elliot, (sailing with Stuart Childerley, a past Etchells world champion) was in the top 20.
The Cowes Fleet has encouraged young sailors and now has four boats fully funded and sailed by top university sailors, including those from the RYA/UKSA British Keelboat Academy. Shepards Wharf Marina has supported this programme with reduced berthing fees. This has helped the Etchells youth teams in winning National, European and World Match Racing Championships in the past two years.
An inaugural Etchells Invitational Cup is being held in Cowes for four days beginning on Monday, 28th July and sailors from throughout the world have been invited. The first day of racing in this new Etchells event will also see an official commissioning of Shepards Wharf’s new dry sailing crane. This new marine crane is an important step forward in making Shepards the premier dry sailing centre on the south coast and assisting the revitalisation of the Cowes Etchells Fleet.
The Cowes Fleet has loaner boats available to anyone interested in having a go. If interested, please contact the Cowes Fleet Captain by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07768 063868.
Photo: Shepards Wharf Marina buzzing with youth sailors taking part in training with the Cowes Etchells Fleet.