Aussies take on world

Martin Hill and his crew of Andrew Palfrey, David Chapman and Sasha Ryan are spearheading an Australian assault on the 2017 Etchells World Championship.

Photography by LiveSailDie/Georgia Witt

12 September 2017


The event will be held in San Francisco from 22 to 30 September and hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club, with the first two races taking place on 26 September.

So far 51 crews from around the globe are registered to take part. Hill and crew will be joined by nine other Australian crews, including Jeanne-Claude Strong and her crew of Seve Jarvin (whose father Steve will crew for Graeme Taylor), Marcus Burke and Tiana Wittey, who double as Hill’s training partners.

Notably, Iain Murray is among the other skippers in a strong Australian line up.

First, though, the Australians will warm-up in the Etchells Pre-Worlds on 16 and 17 September.

Hill, a capable one-design sailor, thinks the crew is ready. “A little voice in my head keeps reminding me to have patience and persistence – trust in myself and the crew’s ability. Well that’s the theory. But one quick look at the calibre of the rock stars I am sailing against, one could say ‘tell him he’s dreaming’.”


Crew member David Chapman its quietly confident. “It’s been a hard slog so far and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When Martin came to me about his desire to race in this class and to get onto the top step, I had my reservations, given the amount of talent and wealth of experience in this fleet. But we’ve knuckled down and put a plan together, and with Andrew’s help, things are coming together nicely.”

They most recently raced at the Etchells North American Championship in San Diego in mid-August, finishing 14th overall, best placed of the Australians.

“Although 14th at the North Americans last month doesn’t sound that great, it was a real dogfight, probably my toughest event of the year – and we learnt so much – that was our first hit out as a team.

“We currently have a very strong team, but we don’t have much time together, so our response to that is a training camp before the Worlds with some very strong teams,” Chapman says.

Sasha Ryan, a talented Olympic class 470 sailor and sister of Rio Olympics 470 Silver medallist, Will, is on the crew for these Championships and they have enlisted past Olympian, Bobby Wilmot as the team’s coach.

“Sasha complements the team very well with her 470 and Etchells experience. For us, it wasn’t a case of let’s just find the weight, we had to find the best person,” Chapman says.

“I think the Australian fleet has a great chance to take out the Worlds. We are represented by some extremely strong teams, such as Big Fella (Iain Murray), GT (Graeme Taylor), Tango (Chris Hampton) and JC (Jeanne-Claude Strong) to name a few.”

His fellow skippers have already made names for themselves, and the fleet is shaping up to be fiercely competitive.

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