Class clash

Hosted by Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, this year’s Etchells World Championship will feature America’s Cup stars, round the world ocean racers, as well as Olympic legends.

16 October 2018


One of the most highly competitive class of one-design sailboats, the competition is expected to be world class, with 96 entries received.

Olympian, World Champion and America’s Cup living legend, John Bertrand AO, is just one of the stars lining up for the 2018 Etchells World Championship on Sunday 21 October.

John Bertrand, or JB as he is best known, is sailing Triad2 with Ben Lamb on the bow and Noel Drennan on the main, both of whom have more than enviable CVs across many classes. Ben has just returned from the J/70 Worlds (another 90+ boat fleet), and they are joined for the first time by Drennan, who’s Etchells credentials are simply outstanding.

JB is often referred to by many as simply, ‘The Great Man’, and he spoke about the impending regatta both fondly and profoundly. “The size of it all is a little bit of a phenomenon. However, having spent same days out on the waters of Moreton Bay sailing against some of the US crews, as well as a few of the Australians, it is quite noticeable just how much the game is changing.”


“It is all becoming much more sophisticated, and a lot like Olympic competition, in fact. This is due to the resources people are bringing to the table. So the class is certainly evolving rapidly. This regatta is going to be hot, what else do you say? A review of the fleet is really a who’s who of One Design racing. Etchells are already considered the best of their type in Australia, but I think we are going to see that this event is going to deliver something else on the world stage.”

“Tactically, the Etchells are very sophisticated. The speed differential is minute, unlike so many other classes, so if you can cross another boat by centimetres, then this is a really good life experience.” JB is always very considered in his approach, and commented, “I am just happy to be alive and be on that start line, which is the best way to approach something like this.”

“Not sure there is any luck involved for the crew who do manage to take it out. The cream very much rises to the top in a long regatta. It will be an emotional rollercoaster, and a true marathon, both physically and mentally. To give people an idea of the scale of it all, the start line will be 1.2km long, which means you cannot read the sail numbers of boats on the other end of the line.” (The Race Management team have spotters at both ends to account for this).

“You race in your own fleet in many ways, and if you can round in the top 20 then good luck to you!”

Australian Sailing squad members Jake Lilley and Matt Wearn will link up with Lewis Brake to sail Bait N Switch, while Martin Hill, David Chapman and Julian Plante will bring Lisa Rose to Brisbane.

Meanwhile, a champion team of Iain Murray, Grant Simmer and Richard Allanson will be aiming to cause havoc on the water.

Scott Kaufman, skipper of America Jane, is one of the 20 or so four-person crews attending the regatta. Kaufman was born in Sydney, but the ex-pat has lived in the USA since 1974. He represented Australia in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico in the 5.5 metre Class.

“As a four-man crew we do best in medium conditions, but higher breeze, like those in San Francisco, is not a problem, just more challenging,” commented Kaufman. “We will be sailing in the pre-Worlds, as well as the Worlds. We are coming and really looking forward to it all.”

His fellow crewmen are Jesse Kirkland, who sailed in the 2012 Olympics in the 49er class for Bermuda, and Lucas Calabrase, who sailed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics for Argentina in the 470s. The final crewman is Austen Anderson, who sailed for Hobart College in several classes.

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