The International Etchells Class is a racing class of one-design sailing boats.
An Etchells keelboat sailing off North Haven in South Australia.
|Designer||E. W. Etchells|
|Hull weight||3,324.6 pounds (1,508.0 kg)|
|LOA||30 feet 6 inches (9.30 m)|
|LWL||22 feet (6.7 m)|
|Beam||6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m)|
|Mainsail area||188 square feet (17.5 m2)|
|Jib/genoa area||103 square feet (9.6 m2)|
|Spinnaker area||400 square feet (37 m2)|
In 1965, Yachting Magazine launched a competition to select a new three man Olympic keelboat. E. W. "Skip" Etchells, a boat designer, builder and sailor, was interested in the competition, but refrained from producing a design until the trials were announced. However, once the details became available, he built the wooden Shillalah, taking her to Kiel, Germany, where the trials were to be held in the fall of 1966.
Shillalah performed well at the trials, winning eight of the ten races. Nevertheless, the judges were unable to agree on a winner, and thus a second set of trials were held in Travemünde the following year. For these trials Etchells rebuilt the boat in fiberglass, using the original Shillalah as a plug. As with the first trials, Shillalah II (as the new boat was named) dominated the races, winning ten out of the thirteen that were held, and only just missing out on an eleventh.
At the completion of the trials the judges chose the Soling over Shillalah II, in spite of her success in the races. However, the boat's performance had won converts, and shortly thereafter the boat entered production with orders for an initial 12 boats. With the formation of a new association the class became known as the E22, and 32 boats were built by Etchells' company by the end of 1969.
The class was known as E22 until the name was changed to Etchells in 1990. Over the years, the Etchells has become increasingly popular and is now raced by members of more than fifty fleets around the world.
The Etchells is a fast, stable racing sloop that can be raced competitively and safely by three or four sailors. She can tack in 70 degrees and is extremely sensitive to subtle adjustments in tuning and trim. She has a sleek hull with relatively little wetted surface area, which allows her to move well in the lightest breeze. In heavier winds, she absolutely flies. Her sail plan includes a main, jib, and spinnaker.
The class's strict one-design principles were established in the late 1960s and are controlled today by a strong, well-managed class association. The class and the International Sailing Federation maintain tight control of the construction of these yachts, ensuring the high quality and uniformity of each Etchells built. The one-design principles help the Etchells hold her resale value exceptionally well.
The Etchells is a fiberglass boat with aluminum spars; it has no electrical systems or auxiliary power. It is trailerable and light enough to drysail. The materials and techniques used in her construction make her easy to maintain and repair.