No walk in the park

Judd Smith hangs in with the Solent experts after a windy day at the Etchells World Championships

Thursday June 28th 2007, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
Day two of the Etchells World Championship in Cowes on Wednesday brought strong winds, incredibly close racing and more than a few gear and crew failures including two men overboard (both promptly recovered and now safe and well). With the wind averaging 22 to 26 knots and occasionally gusting over 30 from the South West the seas were large and the racing was incredibly physically demanding. Even some of the best crews found themselves struggling with only 28 of the 45 competitors crossing the finish line in today' second race.

Overall Andy Beadsworth, sailing GBR1361 with Oscar Strugstad and Simon Fry, retains his lead thanks to a seventh in the morning, his worst result of the championship so far, and an unexpected third in the afternoon. On the final approaches to the afternoon's finish it seemed inevitable that Beadsworth would come fourth just behind American Peter Duncan. Duncan was coming in on the slightly favoured port end and over to starboard Beadsworth had no chance of getting to the line before him. However, Duncan appeared to misunderstand the line setup and passed the wrong side of the mark, failing to finish and handing Beadsworth third place on a plate.

Best performance of the day definitely goes to Ante Razmilovic, sailing GBR1333 with Jez Fanstone and Stuart Flinn, who took third in the morning race and then won in the afternoon with a beautifully controlled performance in near survival conditions. He now lies fourth overall on 24 points, just three points shy of third place.

Jud Smith, sailing USA1351 with David McClintock and Steve Girling, was Ante's closest challenger today with a 2, 6 score which has moved him up from third place into second on 20 points, just ahead of James Howells, sailing GBR1332 with David Bedford and Oscar Mead, who is one point behind him.

For pre-regatta favourite Nils Razmilovic the regatta went from bad to worse today despite winning the first race. Unfortunately he was over eager on the afternoon's race but failed to return and was scored OCS. Back ashore he requested redress from the jury but his request was denied. His 2, 34, 1, 46 score leaves him in 16th overall with no prospect of a way back onto the podium.

Howells and Beadsworth have been the most consistent performers in the regatta so far and are now the only two competitors with a score line all in single digits. Speaking after racing today James Howells commented "We've just been working quite hard at it. It's been a very difficult regatta and something of a chess game and having David [Bedford] in the middle has really helped with that. We've been going quite quickly but it's been tough and there have been times when people will say that the course was wrong, but we were 40th round the first mark yesterday and worked our way back up to 4th just by sailing quick and doing the right things at the right time.

"We broke a spinnaker today. We were on starboard gybe and the pressure was up and we blew some seams but managed to gybe over and come back fairly hot with more pressure on the left hand side of the kite to save it. On a day like today in an Etchells it's very easy to break things so you just have to keep the boat on its feet and keep going forwards. It's been a good fun regatta and I hope that people don't look it as being a chancy regatta or a very lucky one because it's been the same for everybody and sailing fast and being in the right place at the right time has been important.

"[Looking ahead] obviously there are four or five boats with good discards and who are very, very quick. Fortunately David knows the Solent very well and has spent a lot of time sailing Etchells here. We want to try and be in the front pack and see what shakes out as I think with the wind shifts the way there are a lot of opportunities to make gains - as we saw yesterday when we were with Andy and leading and then suddenly there was a big right hander and four or five boats just came out of the right hand side. It's an interesting regatta for sure and I think that's what people come to the Solent for. You can go out in a nice steady 15 knots of breeze in a straight line and that's a different regatta but this is a Solent regatta and I think some of the Australians and Americans are finding it quite hard. I'm really looking forward to the next few days."

Another sailor who had a good day today was Ireland's David Burrows, sailing with father Richard and Peter Coad. Speaking after racing Richard Burrows was full of praise for his team for keeping the boat together in the difficult conditions. "We had a great day today. Indeed we've had a very good regatta. It was a pity we lost the first day but so far it's gone very well. I think our strengths today lay in the crew. Peter Coad, who is our bowman, is an engineer by trade and all his engineering skills were called into play as we had several running repairs to make that were vital. For example in the second race one of the blocks on our jib sheet exploded coming up the second beat when we were lying second and he had to replace the block, which he did very effectively which allowed us to carry on.

"The other thing of course is David who's on the helm as he is tremendously strong. He sailed in the Atlanta Olympics in the star and then in the Finn in Sydney and Athens. [Looking ahead] our thoughts are it's very hard to predict what the weather's going to be, after all poor old Jim Saltonstall [who is conducting weather briefings each morning] has found it very difficult and he has all the information at his finger tips! But if it continues in this kind of vein we've had very good racing, we've had very good courses by and large so I think its going to be a smashing regatta. It's not the kindest of weather in terms of sunshine but we're not really here for that, where here for the racing and it's been damn good racing."

Despite the apparent carnage all the crews and boats are safely home and tonight the marina, the sail lofts and David Heritage's yard are a hive of activity as repairs are made and spare parts and masts are found ready to do battle again tomorrow.

1 GBR 1361 Andy Beadsworth 1, 6, 7, 3 - 17 points
2 USA 1351 Jud Smith 10, 2, 2, 6 - 20 points
3 GBR 1332 James Howells 3, 5, 9, 4 - 21 points
4 GBR 1333 Ante Razmilovic 5, 15, 3, 1 - 24 points
5 NZL 1058 Jon Andrews 4, 8, 11, 8 - 31 points
6 IRL 1015 David Burrows 11, 9, 12, 2 - 34 points
7 AUS 1215 Noel Drennan 26, 1, 10, 7 - 44 points
8 AUS 1250 Jervis Tilly 16, 13, 8, 9 - 46 points
9 USA 1306 Tom Hughes 6, 28, 6, 12 - 52 points
10 HKG 1051 Mark Thornburrow 12, 12, 21, 11- 56 points

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