In 1965, Stamford, Connecticut boat designer and builder Skip Etchells saw a notice by the International Yacht Racing Union announcing a contest to build four new classes of racing sailboats, including a new three-man keelboat for sanctioned events.
The competition to determine the new class design was held in Kiel, Germany in the fall of 1966. Etchells' Shillalah won eight out of ten races, but the judges were unable to determine the overall winner. The judges held a second set of trials in 1967 in Travemünde, a waterfront borough of Lübeck, Germany. Etchells' fiberglass-hulled Shillalah II sailed to victory in ten out of thirteen races.
Still it seemed the fix was in. Another hull, the Soling, built by Jan Linge of Norway, was chosen as the official design for the new Olympic-class three-man keelboat. Even so, the success of the Shillalahs at the trials caught attention; by 1969 Etchells' boat building yard had produced and delivered 32 boats. The new class was established: the E22.
The class name was changed to Etchells in 1990.There are over 1,100 of the boats built and about 750 of those are racing. Dennis Connor reportedly cut his teeth racing Etchells. Other well-known skippers, including Gary Jobson, Russell Coutts, David Curtis, Larry Klein admired and raced the tough little hull.
Spectators can see the Etchells Class boats in action this week in San Diego, Wednesday through Saturday. Tom Carruthers, the 2017 Etchells West Coast Spring Series winner has registered. As the boats race out of San Diego Bay and south along Coronado and back, good viewing points are in the bay between the San Diego Yacht Club and Point Loma and along the Coronado Strand. Check the full schedule at: http://2017.etchellsnachamps.org/