Etchells – Which one is the cheater’s boat now?

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Etchells – Which one is the cheater’s boat now?

by John Curnow Oct 08 11:39 UTC

2018 Etchells World Champions – Lisa Rose © John Curnow

Etchells Mold 11 has definitely gained notoriety over the past 18 months. Although ships have been afloat since 2011, it wasn’t until the mold boats started winning in 2019 that people climbed in to find a reason, none of which was valid, to call them cheat boats. Very few stopped to take a peek at the sailors on board and find out the real reason for the successes of AUS 1461. It was definitely a narrow-mindedness… The name calling of ships is one thing, but great sailors and people, even if just by extension, well that’s a whole different thing. It always ends in disaster, and to this day, the Etchells certainly do.

Various parties sought to have them excluded, some of which even owned a Mold 11 ship. This despite the 24 boats built from it and measuring according to Etchells class rules. Some of these devices have been measured practically countless times because they have been the subject of so many campaigns.

In March 2021, the world-class governing body estimated that, as mold 11 had not been ‘approved’ by World Sailing at the time of manufacture 11 years ago, none of the boats in this mold could to be called Etchells. This is curious in itself, given the previous statement about each gear falling within the measurement tolerances under the rules. A clerical error, of course, but by no means an indictment against the builders and sailors of the 24 boats in question.

Imagine the surprise then when it was recently discovered that the same question now exists with regard to American and British mussels, better known as mussels # 8 and # 10. As with mold 11, there appears to be no historical evidence that an Etchells mold was ever approved by World Sailing (ISAF). Oh dear. By the same ruling, ruthlessly handed down by the world-class governing body in March, it now appears that none of the current three builders are in fact an Etchell. A hasty and ill-founded decision has now put the world fleet in jeopardy, not to mention the rescheduled 2022 Worlds at Cowes. Whoops. Seems like a lot of souls haven’t thought about it.

And it seems that the owners of the Mold 11 boats aren’t too happy either. Hardly surprising! It was only today that the Etchells Association of Australia published a copy of letter written by the group of 16 boat owners Mold 11 to the Etchells international class governing body where they requested either that the March 10, 2021 decision be retracted or that the governing body immediately notify class members that boats from other mussels, including Ontario and Heritage and other unapproved mussels, no longer to be Etchells. Wow!

Does it look a lot like greenhouses and stones? Well, maybe, and we are awaiting confirmation of what the governing body of the international class Etchells is going to do to solve what can only be described as a calamitous mess! So far no one has responded to our requests. (Certainly a curious thing, that …) Of course, besides, one can only wonder if anyone is looking back on the analysis of the results of the former class president, Jim Cunningham, which were published here ?

More importantly, how do you save this great class? Hhhmmmm. John Bertrand AO thinks this is all really about being “over-veiled and over-developed”. You sort of think he’s infinitely qualified to talk about these two topics. He also added: “There is no problem changing boats for me, as long as I have the new rig and the new sails which have been adopted by everyone now. When we were running in Sydney Harbor, you could put a rope on all these boats, upwind and down. To understand this, just look at First Tracks (AUS 1485), the most recent Heritage to land in Australia, or the 2018 Brisbane Worlds champion, ‘Lisa Rose’ (by the way, that’s another Heritage ).

As it stands, then developing it all in a linear fashion, sailing is already quite difficult for the general public to understand. Seeing him end up in the courts or in the protest hall, with the America’s Cup and even the Sydney Hobart Race being examples, only makes things more difficult.

So take the horse racing. It is the majority voting system. People understand this. Horses, well, no one would think that two horses are the same, so they’re like boats. The jockeys, well it’s the crew, and the weight carried by the jockeys is a handicap, and you would think that it is a bit like a system of measurement. Who knows, it just might be. But it is the majority vote in one round. You start there, you end here, and the winner takes it all.

It’s not like they hand out the awards later, and there’s the first horse, the first black horse, the first gray horse, and so on. It’s just old at first. One Design is meant to make navigation a bit like the above. Even then, some keelboats and some classes of dinghies struggled to organize everything.

Much of this may be due to the fact that volunteers run the classes, and thank goodness they raised their hands to help, but keeping the house tidy takes a long time.

Certainly, for 50 years, the Etchells have had a wonderful time. They have attracted all the greats, whether they are pro or absolutely supreme amateurs, but very, very dedicated. Nonetheless, the Etchells certainly found themselves in a heap of grief, and this could well be argued as being brought on by various iterations of the International Class Board of Directors and World Sailing in whatever form it has been. during his journey to date.

Now Skip Etchells got down to doing this class, which couldn’t make it to the Olympics, and it maybe helped them more than hindered the skinny little dart.

However, and this is the big problem, when the boats of the three builders in the class come from molds that are apparently neither validated nor certified, one has to be not only amazed, but deeply concerned.

Skip was very, very clear that this was a measurement class. Indeed, the class rule in the introductory section makes this very, very clear. There are a whole bunch of steps that go into making one, layered schedules and everything too. There are models, there are tolerances, and ultimately to be an Etchell you have to fall inside of it all. Some tolerances are very tight, others may offer a little more headroom, but the fact remains that these are Etchells.

However, the evil road now is that no current Etchell is an Etchell. So, to use the vernacular of the day, these are all, according to the ruling, cheat boats if you mean to put it that way. It’s really sad, because they’re not. They are all made to take people in the race, and ultimately that’s what we have to do for everyone, it doesn’t matter if it’s a class that doesn’t currently see that it’s going to have a problem in the future, or it is the Etchells.

All parties must now come together to eliminate this one, and not just assume it’s one or the other. Likewise, changing the rules afterwards, which make it quite inclusive for some, and much less for others, will not help anyone. Now here is the lesson to everyone in this sport, make sure your house is in order. Counterbalances, checks and balances, this is how it all will survive and attract new people to our beloved hobby.

You will notice that name calling is not one of those checks and balances. It is not, and cannot be, and is used here for illustrative purposes to show how much it can pull things off the rails …

When it comes to OD, you try to do like horse racing, and to do that it doesn’t matter if you are a male or female horse, black, gray, brown or a combination of these, as long as you are you are not Stripes the racing zebra.

You are quite right. There will be more to say about all of this …


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