We are thankful for the inspiration and insight that Elwood Widmer "Skip" Etchells (1911-1998), a boatbuilder and naval architect from Old Greenwich, Connecticut, designed and built the first Etchells in 1966. Creating a design with a forward-thinking fin keel and skegged rudder, he created a design with lines that draw the attention of sailors and non-sailors alike. Having worked for renowned classic yacht designers Sparkman & Stephens earlier in his career, Skip developed an aesthetic sensibility that he combined with his natural prowess for building fast one-design craft and optimizing speed out of long-standing yacht racing designs, such as the Star -- a design he made fly.

In 1965, the International Yacht Racing Union conducted a search for a new three-man Olympic-class keelboat to replace the Dragon. This contest was Skip's inspiration for the Etchells design.

While the Soling ultimately trumped the Etchells as the next Olympic class following some international political intrigue, the Etchells was warmly received as a new one-design racing class. In the light winds of Long Island Sound, the Etchells attracted the attention of locals who embraced the speed, seaworthiness and intensity of the boat and founded Fleet 1 in 1969. Today, there are more than 50 fleets worldwide, with boats now numbering in the 1400 series.