Etchells in Australia
The Etchells was designed in 1966 by Skip Etchells, a yacht designer and boat builder from Greenwich, Connecticut, USA following a competition sponsored by Yachting Magazine the previous year. The International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU now ISAF) was looking for a new three man Olympic keelboat.
The Etchells won the trials but was not selected. Nevertheless, the Etchells class was born, a class organization was formed and the boat was named E22 because the design is 22 feet on the waterline.
In 1972, the IYRU formally recognized the E22 as a first step towards granting international status. The Class Rules, Measurement Form and Rules pertaining to One-design Control were subsequently accepted by the IYRU and the Class was officially recognized as an International Class effective 1 July 1974.
In 1990 the yacht and the Class officially revised their names, dropping the “22” to become “International Etchells” and “International Etchells Class Association” respectively. A new logo, eliminating the “22” was designed and accepted by the Class in 1996.
The E22 Class Association of Australia was formed on 6 February 1973. The foundation office bearers were: President, Kevin McCann; Vice President, Roger Dane; Secretary, Alex Milledge; and Treasurer, Rea Franklin.
The Association decided to purchase and import from the USA moulds to build hulls and also agreed to procure dies to make spars. Savage Fibreglass Industries in Melbourne was appointed the first official builder of Etchells yachts in Australia.
The moulds arrived in October 1973, and the first Etchells in Australia, KA1, “Chardonnay”, was shipped here from USA inside the moulds. The boat was owned by the late Roger Dane after whom the perpetual trophy, awarded to the winner of the Masters Division in the Australian Championship, is named. The wooden barney post from “Chardonnay” is a feature of the trophy.
In June 1975 the Australian Association adopted a new constitution to enable it to be fully recognized by the IYRU sanctioned International E22 Association. The intention was to allow the class to develop in the boat owners’ best interests. The structure of the new Association provided for fleets to make up the Australian Association, a principle which still exists today.
The office bearers were: President, Rea Franklin; Vice President, Harry Sutton; Secretary, David Bebb; and Treasurer, Mal Jones. At the time there were three fleets; Melbourne, Pittwater and Sydney Harbour – today there are 16 fleets around the country and the Association still owns the moulds and dies.
Within a year of receiving the moulds from the USA, Savage Fibreglass Industries had built 30 boats, and continued to build Etchells until 1980 by which time 127 boats had been built. In 1981, Pamcraft was granted the Etchells licence in Australia and during the next 10 years built 200 Etchells. From 1991 until 1996 Bashford Boat Builders built 111 boats and since 1996 Pacesetter Etchells Pty Ltd has been the Australian builder.
An Australian Championship is held every year and is rotated around the States in which there are established Etchells fleets. The Australian Etchells Class Association has contributed strong Class leadership and has been host to nine World Championships.