Audi Etchells Worlds: Western Australia’s largest yachting event since Americas Cup 87

Thursday, 16 November 2006

On Saturday 18th November, 2006 Audi Etchells Worlds start in Fremantle, Western Australia. It is a major event on the world sailing scene and this year there is a record 28 boat international fleet attending with America's Cup sailors, past and present, amongst the favourites.

On Saturday morning on Cockburn Sound Fremantle, the same place that Dennis Conner famously recovered the America's Cup in 1987, more than 70 Etchells crews from Great Britain, Ireland, North America, New Zealand, Bermuda, Italy and Australia will face the Starter.

Regatta Committee Chairperson Brian Thornley emphasises the prestigious nature of the event for Western Australia.  'This is probably the biggest yachting event in Western Australia since the America's Cup in 1987.' Since 1975 the Etchells Worlds' has rotated around the world, with Australians having managed to win six times and in 2006 Aussies are again favourites to claim the title.

The much anticipated rematch between 'Big Bad' Dennis Conner and John Bertrand is not going to happen at these Worlds.  Conner was hit by a luggage trolley during the Heathrow Airport bomb scare. He suffered a blood clot in his leg and following medical advice, he was unable to make the long flight to Perth. 

However the 'elder statesman' of the class, John Bertrand who quit Big Boat racing after Australia II's win in 1983 and has sailed Etchells ever since, is still searching for his first Etchells Worlds title. The 59 year old master sailor showed he 'has still got what it takes', decisively winning the last race in the pre-Worlds event last weekend.

One of his sailing 'apprentices' Skip Lissiman, proved the West Australian sailors have what it takes to win the Worlds in this hotly contested one design yacht racing regatta. Lissiman won the SLAM 2007 Etchells Australian Championship on the same Cockburn Sound course, last weekend. Lissiman is no stranger to the big stage, the 49 year Executive Manager of the Australian Yachting Foundation based at Royal Perth Yacht Club, was one of the sail trimmers on board Australia II (with Bertrand) in Newport.

John Bertrand contends this is a hot fleet. 'In terms of depth, I think this would be one of the hottest championships ever run. Certainly for the Etchells class. 'My take on it is the Etchells is the Olympic class in the non Olympic years. Everyone gravitates to this class for the World Championship.'

On Friday morning at 9am the official launch of the 2006 Audi Etchells Worlds will take place at the Fremantle Sailing Club.  The Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (RFBYC) and the Royal Perth Yacht Club (RPYC) are the host clubs, with the Fremantle Sailing Club providing the venue.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 November 2006 )