A sleek one-design keelboat with deep Marblehead roots and a highly competitive racing class.


In 1965, the IYRU and Yachting Magazine launched a competition to select a new three-person Olympic keelboatE. W. “Skip” Etchells, a boat designer, builder, and sailor, designed in 1966 and later built a fiberglass prototype that proved to be a winner.  In 1970 Corinthian Yacht Club member Ben Smith brought the first Etchells 22 to Marblehead.  The class was known as E22 (the boat is 22’ at the waterline) 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 representing 1,460 boats around the world.

The Etchells is a fast, stable, sleek one-design keelboat sloop that can be raced competitively and safely by three or four sailors. The boat has a 30.5’ LOA, 6’11” beam, 4’6” draft, 3,700 lb. displacement, and a 310 sq. ft. sail area.  She can tack in 70 degrees and is extremely sensitive to subtle adjustments in tuning and trim. Her hull has 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.  She has no electrical systems or auxiliary power, is trailerable and light enough to drysail. The materials and techniques used in her construction make her easy to maintain and repair.

The Etchells Fleet 4 (Marblehead) Class Association was formed in 1971, a year after the boat’s arrival in Marblehead waters.  A highly competitive class, the current Fleet 4 roster includes ten boats:  Aegir, Dire Wolf, Destiny, Hera, Magic Dragon, Panache, Perezoso, Sour Mash, Velox Syreni, and Woody.  If you’re quick, they can be seen flying on the water most weekends and on some weekday races. 

What do you think of these sleek racing beauties?  To see Paul McLaughlin’s Panache, click here.