Irish Etchells in Florida Jaguar Series
Author: Simon Knowles Posted on: 6/3/08 Print Version

Stephen Quinn smiling, Stephen O'Flaherty concentrating hard and Peter Kingston taking the photo as they approach a leeward finish ahead of 2006 World Champion Judd Smith and the fleet in the distance behind.

The Jaguar Etchells Series came to a close last weekend in Florida with the following Howth sailors competing, Stephen O'Flaherty, Stephen Quinn, Alex Lacy, Paul Derham and William Lacy.

A fleet of 89 Etchells competed over four weekends and for the last weekend the International race officer tried windward gates with offset marks. This has attracted much comment over the last few days in various sailing sites and appears to have been a success and something that may now be tried by large one design fleets in future.

As Stephen O'Flaherty has said:

Those who went for the starboard gate plus offset had to wait for a gap in the starboard layline beating group to escape downwind. This was one of the objectives, to slow the front runners who had had an easy time on the beat, and let the rest catch up for the run.

The other objective was to split the fleet and stop everyone overlaying the mark to such a degree, in order to find clear air on the approach. The port gate was as eventful as normal.

We did get creamed on the 7th race arriving on port at the port gate and tacking but unable to make a rounding with the bad air. After a gybe and tack we were last around the mark. All happened in 30 seconds. Our flyer - sorry tactical masterpiece - on the next beat, one port tack leg plus one starboard tack leg, with the expected 15 degree header/lift got us to 37th out of 82. Lesson learnt, if you have a bad start or leg, go for the corners. In all, the windward gate + offset with a big fleet is a success. I would expect this to be introduced for fleets of 30+ in the future.

The Series also include Cork Etchells owner Dave Dwyer who sailed with Andy Beadsworth, the current world Champion on They finish in fourth place behind Americans Jeff Siegal in third, Jud Smith second and winner Bill Hardesty.

At home the Etchells and SB3 fleets sail 9 races (Worlds Qualifiers & Spring Warmer) over three Saturdays starting on March 29th in HYC to kickstart their respective seasons.