Learnings from the Etchells Asia Pacific Championships

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The Etchells Asia Pacific Championships concluded last Sunday with local boat Racer X 2 skippered by Mark Thornburrow coming out on top with a superb 3rd and 2nd place on the final day of racing. Racer X 2 won on count back ahead of the American Etchell SCIMITAR skippered by Steve Benjamin. Interestingly, neither of the top two boats won a race during the Championships, winning instead with extremely consistent sailing with 5 top 10 places apiece, both boats discarding race 4 (37th DNF and 21st place respectively). The final podium position was taken by another visitor – Swedish Blue, skippered by Ante Razmilovic representing Great Britain.

Further down the fleet, coming in a respectable 25th place, aboard “The Answer is…”, I experienced my first ever Etchells Championships as the forth crew member of Charlie Manzoni’s Hong Kong boat. It was a wonderful sailing experience for me personally, but also a good education for my team in preparation for the Worlds which starts this coming Sunday. Despite several months of training, sailing in the choppy waters of the nine pins islands, starting on a very crowded start lines and hiking out for hours on end were all relatively new experiences and we learned a great deal. And I earned numerous bruises as proof of my participation in what is arguably the regions toughest sailing competition.

Hong Kong Etchells / Jenny Cooper

Photo: Hong Kong Etchells / Jenny Cooper

On an Etchell, there are no hiking straps. You grab lines and support your entire upper body weight with your hands, which swell and bruise from the pain – at least mine do! As graceful as an Etchell looks from afar, onboard it’s kind of like riding a bull – you find a stable position, and hold on for dear life. Hiking hard improves speed so you just grunt under your breath and get on with it. Hiking pads and the right gloves help.

As graceful as an Etchell looks from afar, onboard it’s kind of like riding a bull

With the Worlds to contend with in a few days, The Answer is… team has spent the period since the APAC Champs getting the boat scrutineered and discussing tactics, and boat tuning.  My team believes that the key to our success will be good starts, and we’ve seen that consistency pays.

Hong Kong Etchells/ Jenny Cooper

Photo: Hong Kong Etchells/ Jenny Cooper

Asia Pacific Championships – Links:

Provisional Results at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/68143406/EtchellsAsiaPacificResults.htm

Race tracking available at http://www.tractrac.com/web/event-page/event_20151023_AsiaPacifi/679/

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