The Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy provides an opportunity for the Etchells fleet of one design day boats to gather off Cowes for a couple of days of fiercely contested racing. Those in the know about one design racing always give a knowing nod when a yachtsman says he has competed in the Etchells class. These elegant day boats may look fairly unassuming, but over they have gained a reputation for some of the most fiercely competitive one design racing around and many a keen racing brain has been honed doing battle within the ranks of the Etchells fleet. It is perhaps most telling that some of the legends of yacht racing cut their teeth racing Etchells; Dennis Conner, Russell Coutts and John Bertrand to name but a few.
Competition among the Etchells fleet in the Solent has always been very strong and there is an excellent spirit of camaraderie among competitors and perhaps it is this which makes the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy such a special event. The trophy was first competed for in 1995, after Sir Kenneth Preston, who had led the British sailing team in the 1960 Olympics, presented it to the Royal Yacht Squadron shortly prior to his death. Ever since then, his memory has been commemorated with a scintillating series of races over the weekend which often attracts high profile names. Anyone who thinks that Etchells racing is an old man’s sport will think again as the action waxes fast and furious throughout the weekend. The class continues to go from strength to strength and is now a truly international one. The Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy is a great celebration of the class and a fine showcase for the subtleties and intricacies of handling these beautiful little yachts. Saturday evening is all about soaking up the friendly ambience and good natured camaraderie found between competitors in this class and, naturally, the RYS is also very gracious hosts and you can guarantee they will lay on an excellent spread in the very convivial atmosphere of their greatly esteemed club house.