World Etchells

Sendy first day of the 2024 Etchells World Championships, just what the Doctor ordered.

Photography by Down Under Sail

20 March 2024


When Race Officer Ross Wilson called for an early start, the competitors knew they were in for an exciting first day of racing for the 2024 Etchells World Championships in Fremantle, Western Australia.

“Freo is a beautiful spot to go sailing, and I’m sure that all the competitors will really love what the Fremantle Sailing Club and the organising authority, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, have in store for them here on the West Coast,” said Wilson ahead of hitting the water for the opening day.

“This is my fifth world title here in Freo over the last few years, so I’m well aware of what happens out on the racetrack.”

Originally scheduled for 1300 hours, the warning signal was brought forward to 1000 hours, giving the race committee a solid chance to safely get the first two races away and locking results on the scoreboard.


Wilson made a point of mentioning the high-pressure wind warning that had been issued, igniting the change in start times away from the original schedule. He also advised that the races would be between 65 and 70 minutes long. The windward mark was set at 1.6 nm in a direction of 190 for Race 1.

The forecast for the morning was bang on, with the fleet of 40 Etchells from five nations kicking off with a clear start in 15 knots from the south. As the race continued, the breeze and sea-state began to build, giving the sailors glamour conditions for the opening race of the championships.

AUS1484, Martin Hill, Noel Drennan, Sean O’Rourke and Nagisa Sakai stayed classy all day on a relatively quiet course. The four-up team locked in the first bullet of the championship.

Race 1

AUS – Martin Hill, Noel Drennan, Sean O’Rourke, Nagisa Sakai
AUS – Raymond Smith, Alan Smith, Michael Hughes
GBR – Graham Vials, Billy Russell, Andrew Lawson

After a short wait, it was into the second race of the day. The wind was already building, and with the fleet starting under the U flag in 20 knots, it was time to get going. Once again, it was a clear start, and the fleet were on their way up a 1.6nm beat, this time at a heading of 200.

Laurie Smith, Richard Parslow, Ruairiah Scott, and Dave Hughes from Great Britain put themselves in a handy position to take out the second race of the championship.

The “Fremantle Doctor” arrived mid-race, with gusts of up to 24 to 26 knots, and the fleet were on the send when the spinnakers were hoisted – one would assume that the sailors were surfers at that point!

Post-race and back on the dock, Smith said, “The first race wasn’t too bad, but the second race got a bit windy.”

Complimenting his crew, Smith said that he just “does what he’s told and holds onto the tiller with two hands” when things get hectic.

“We had two good starts but made a few mistakes, so, you know, we will hopefully get better as the regatta goes on, but we’re very happy after today,” said Smith.

Getting the bullet in Race 2 has put Smith and his team in a solid position. After two races, they are on equal points with fellow countrymen Graham Vials, Billy Russell, and Andrew Lawson.

Race 2

GBR – Lawrie Smith, Richard Parslow, Ruairiah Scott, Dave Hughes
USA – Michael Jobin, Keith Swinton, David Gilmour, Ned Breed
USA – Andy Beadsworth, Brian Ledbetter, Ben Lamb

The Jury team were pleased to advise that no protests had been received on the opening day.

The 2024 Etchells World Championships is a 10-race series hosted by Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club with Fremantle Sailing Club as the host venue and supported by Royal Perth Yacht Club.

Five straight days of racing from 18 to 22 of March, with two races a day, will ultimately decide the 2024 World Champion team.

Top 5 After 2 Races

GBR – Lawrie Smith, Richard Parslow, Ruairiah Scott, Dave Hughes – =7pts
GBR – Graham Vials, Billy Russell, Andrew Lawson – =7pts
AUS – Peter Merrington, Ian McKillop, Steve Jarvin – 9pts
USA – Andy Beadsworth, Brian Ledbetter, Ben Lamb – 12pts
AUS – Martin Hill, Noel Drennan, Sean ORourke, Nagisa Sakai – 14pts


Event media at this regatta is made possible thanks to the support from HillPDA Consulting.

Event results  HERE

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