After two days of tricky shifting breeze in the Solent, the New Zealand Team racing Feng Shui of Andrew Wills, Anatole Masfen and Matthew Kelway, has won the 2016 Etchells Open European Championship. The team from Royal Akarana Yacht Club scored no worse than a seventh, in the four race series, to win the first regatta of the event, and bragging rights for the forthcoming 2016 Etchells World Championship.
The New Zealand team, who are all from Auckland won the series in a 50 boat fleet of Olympic and America's Cup winners as well as as a multitude of World Champions. Current British National Champion, Ante Razmilovic, racing under the burgee of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda ITA, was second. Steve Benjamin's team from the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club Connecticut USA was just a point behind in third. America's Cup winner and past Etchells World Champion, John Bertrand sailing for the Royal Brighton YC, Victoria AUS was the winner of the last race of the series.
For the first day of the 2016 Etchells Open European Championship, Principal Race Officer, Phil Lawrence, prophesied that it might be a long day and he was spot on. The wind behaved worse than a wayward child, refusing to settle down until mid-afternoon. Once the wind settled into the northwest, three good races were held in the Central Solent. However, it wasn't until sundown that the fleet returned to Cowes Yacht Haven.
“With a forecast for less wind tomorrow, we knew we had to get the races in today, and that was a difficult task.” commented Phil Lawrence. “Once we got going, the wind was still shifting around, but at least we had a peak of 15 knots - the mark layers had a tough day of it today. With the forecast conditions tomorrow, we have amended the schedule to start after 2 p.m. Hopefully, we will get at least one race in to make the series.”
The top Etchells team today was Feng Shui, from the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, Auckland, NZ. Helmed by Andrew Wills and owned by Anatole Masfen, Matthew Kelway completes the line up. The team has won several New Zealand National Titles and Wills was on Jud Smith's winning team for the 2006 Etchells Worlds.