Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bermuda's Tim Patton takes on champion sailors at Etchells regatta

Skipper: Tim Patton, Bermuda Sailing Association president, is concerned about Ireland’s cold weather and strong currents as he is used to sailing in Bermuda’s milder conditions, above. This is his 21st time at Etchells.

Sports reporter Bermuda Sailing Association president Tim Patton will be among the crew at next week’s star-studded Etchells

World Championships in north County Dublin, Ireland.
The 56-year-old skipper — who is making his 21st appearance at the world class regatta — will be joined on deck by Tony Knapp and U.S. sailor Chris Busch.

Among those Patton will rub shoulders with in Ireland is legendary Australian sailor John Bertrand. Bertrand rose to fame after skippering Australia II to victory in the 1983 Americas Cup, putting an end to 132 years of American dominance in the match racing spectacle.
Patton said: “John is racing Etchells and racing at a very high level.
“He’s yet to win a worlds — I think he’s been second twice, third and fourth, so he’s keen to succeed.”

Also competing are Americas Cup-winning skippers Denis Connors and Russell Coutts, who is a multiple Argo Group Gold Cup winner. Patton’s best showing to date at the Etchells Worlds was in 1988, when he placed fourth in Perth, Australia. The International Etchell is a 30ft fiberglass monohull keelboat. It was designed in the 1960s and is usually sailed by a crew of three or four.
Patton said: “The beauty of the class is that it is a boat that can be sailed by people from the age of 14 to 70. Certainly you don’t want to be 70 and jumping around on the foredeck.

“But an older skipper with a fit young crew can certainly do well.” And do well is certainly what Patton intends to achieve despite the potentially trying Irish conditions.
He said: “We have been going pretty well lately but I have never raced a sailboat in Ireland before.

“The conditions are going to be challenging because there’s a lot of current.”
Oceanographer Knapp has been given the dual role of trimmer and tactician, while Busch will man the spinnaker on the foredeck. Next week’s regatta will mark the first time the trio have sailed together. Patton said: “I’ve sailed with Chris and Tony before but the three of us have never sailed together. “We all know the boat well enough but that is not going to be the problem — it’s really going to be getting used to the conditions.” Patton, who departed for the U.K. earlier this week, is bracing himself for potentially frigid conditions in Ireland.

He said: “The highest temperature I’ve seen forecast for next week is 68F, that’s the highest.
“It’s going to go down to 48F, so I am packing just about all the clothes I own.” This year’s Etchells World Championships, hosted by Howth Yacht Club, gets underway next Monday.