'Skip' Etchells, 87, yachtsman, boat builder

E. W.

December 27, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

E. W. "Skip" Etchells, a boat builder and world champion yachtsman, died Dec. 20 at Memorial Hospital in Easton. He was 87.

Most yacht racing is done in one-design sailboats, all built to a specific design so that the outcome rests with the skill of the crew rather than the builder.

In the 1940s and the 1950s, Mr. Etchells dominated international competition in the one-design Star class. In the 1960s, he created a new one-design yacht, the Etchells 22, now known as the International Etchells class. Mr. Etchells built Stars for 30 years and Etchells 22s for 20 years.

In 1951, with his wife, Mary, as crew, he won the Star-class world championship. She is the only woman to have won a world title in this popular boat. Skip Etchells won the 1959 North American Star class and many U.S. and international championships.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, the former Mary O'Toole; a son, Tim Etchells of Middlebury, Vt.; a daughter, Anne Nieusma of Easton; and three grandchildren.

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