The first day of the 2017 Etchells North American Championship was a true textbook definition of champagne sailing. The talent of the twenty-nine boat fleet was apparent as competitors took to the waters for the first part of the three day long battle for the title of Etchells North American Champion.
Race Committee ran three races in Coronado Roads in sunny, warm weather complete with the San Diego skyline as a stunning backdrop to the day. Racing was slightly delayed at the start of the day as the wind picked up. After one general recall, the wind remained about 10-12 knots, and racing continued uninterrupted.
Alex Camet and his team of Ben Mitchell and Patrick Powell (USA 1216) lead the event with 9 points. “Today went great. We had a nice, fun, conservative day and we tried to avoid big scores which went well for us. Argyle Campbell is doing really well. He has two firsts so we’re watching him. We noticed today that a lot of competitors had two good races and one bad one."
Camet plans to remain steady for the duration of the championship after having a successful first day. "It was long day, but to reiterate, we’re trying to stay conservative, sail smart, keep our options open, and try not to find ourselves in a bad position.”
As Camet mentioned, Argyle Campbell and his team of Luke Lawrence, Brian Janney, and Anton Schmid (USA 1433) also sailed well today, ending the day in second with 12 points.
Campbell shared what he learned throughout the day. "It was a tricky day of sailing and it turned out that the right side of the course was favored all day. We didn’t figure that out until the second race by accident- we had a horrible start. We tacked and went behind everybody and all of the sudden were on the right side. By the time we got we got up the course, we were in first place and we managed to stay in first place."
In third with 21 points is Steve Benjamin and his team of Michael Menninger, Dave Hughes, and Ian Liberty (USA 1228). Benjamin has won this event for the past two years and is hunting for a third win this weekend.
Ted Hardenbergh (USA 1012) sits mid-fleet after day one, but is second in the Corinthian Division. Hardenbergh sails with his two brothers Mark and Jamie.
“The first race we had a clean lane and it went great. The second two races we got hammered at the start and it was hard to recover from a bad start. This fleet is incredibly deep so once you’re mid-fleet or below, you’re done. This course tends to be one sided and if you can’t get out to the right, it hurts. Tomorrow we plan to start a little further down the line to give ourselves the opportunity to tack sooner since most boats will peel off early."
Hardenbergh also commented on the level of competition this fleet brings. "The fleet is deep and the top half is very, very good. If we can be in the top third of the fleet, we’d be ecstatic."
Keith Whittemore (USA 1152) leads the Corinthian Division with Kjeld Hestehave (USA 971) rounding out the top 3.
Complete results from day one can be found here.
Racing continues at 11:25am Friday morning and Saturday morning. The awards ceremony will be held at San Diego Yacht Club after the completion of races on Saturday, August 19th.
The Etchells Fleet would like to thank its sponsors: Bay City Brewing Company, Sailing Supply, and the Port of San Diego.
Photos courtesy of Cynthia Sinclair Photography. More photos from day one are located here.
For more information or media inquiries, please contact Emily Willhoft.