Narrow lead for Beadsworth

Friday looks like final day for battle scarred Etchells Worlds fleet

Friday June 29th 2007, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
Thursday's third day of racing at the 2007 Etchells World Championship was as dramatic and closely fought as you could hope for. With six races now sailed there have been five different race winners and there are just nine points separating the top four places. The forecast was for lighter winds in the mid teens but yet again the forecast was wrong. Initially the south westerly wind was around 14-17 knots but it rapidly built to 22 and continued to increase through the day averaging around 24 knots for the second race and spiking up to 27 on the final two legs.

In the overall standings the discard has now come into play and Andy Beadsworth, sailing GBR1361 with Oscar Strugstad and Simon Fry, counts 15 points to hold their lead by just three points. This team continue to show incredible consistency and are now the only crew with an all single digit scoreline - their discard is a seventh. "We had a good couple of races. We'd have done rather better if our spinnaker sheet hadn't come undone on the first hoist, but we got is sorted out and we finished fourth. We had good boat speed and I think we were better at executing our plans today than perhaps we were yesterday." - commented Oscar Strugstad (below grabbing the pole) after sailing.



Ante Razmilovic, sailing GBR1333 with Jez Fanstone and Stuart Flinn, has moved into second having scored six and three and counts 18 points overall. Despite an 18th in the second race, their worst score of the series, a second place this morning, enabled James Howells, sailing GBR1332 with David Bedford and Oscar Mead, to hold onto third overall with 23 points. Defending World Champion Jud Smith, sailing USA1351 with David McClintock and Steve Girling, sailed a very consistent day to score 8 and 6. He drops one place overall but remains in contention just one point behind Howells.

Speaking on the dock Smith said "Today it was probably one of the trickier days. The breeze was pretty fresh and basically from the same direction but there were some interesting right shifts that were happening in the first and second beats that really caught us and a few other competitors off guard and it really did shuffle the front of the fleet. It was the type of day where you had to have a good start and you had to be able to keep going straight out to the current on starboard tack but there were times where some folks that stepped up to the right a bit got some good right shifts and it did shuffle the fleet. I think it looks like it's pretty tight at the top. Andy [Beadsworth] had a pretty good day and Ante [Razmilovic] had a great day. It's been shuffling and there've been lots of race winners and it's tight, any number of six or seven boats could win a race. Peter Duncan had a good day and Tom Hughes had a good race today and I'd say that anyone in the top fifteen could jump up into the top five."

The relatively light airs this morning seemed to make the fleet even more skittish than usual and it took four attempts to get the race underway. For the third attempt PRO Tony Lovell brought the Z Flag into play and although the fourth start under black flag got away cleanly thirteen boats had already incurred a 20% penalty which was carried forward to their final score. Auckland based Jon Andrews, sailing NZL1058 with Anatole Masfen and Andrew Wills, was one of the worst affected and despite a 7th in the second race his 22 point score dragged him down from 5th to 8th overall. "We thought we had a good day until we got ashore and found out we were OCS and Z flagged." Said Andrews. "After thinking we had six results we could hang onto we've now only got five and have to discard the 22nd. We're lying eighth and going into tomorrow our aim is to finish fifth overall, but we'll have to see what the conditions are like, although I think the predictions have been wrong every day so far."

Once the fifth race was finally underway David Burrows, sailing IRL1015 with his father Richard and bowman Peter Coad, put in a bravura performance to win by a comfortable margin. Behind him the places were changing all the time with Howells eventually taking second from Tom Hughes, sailing USA1306 with Ron Rosenberg and Steve Hayles. Beadsworth slotted into fourth and Laurence Mead, sailing GBR1339 with Phil Lawrence and Matt Adams took fifth.

The sixth race was the closest of the series so far and spectators were on the edge of their seats as the boats approached the finish line. Beadsworth led round the final leeward mark but, following his error yesterday in crossing the wrong side of the line and allowing Beadsworth to beat him, Peter Duncan, sailing USA1327 with Tom Blackwell and Bill Barton, was determined to get revenge. The two went at it hammer and tongs up the long final beat and it was only on the final tack into the line that we knew Beadsworth had kept Duncan at bay. Ante Razmilovic took third just ahead of Noel Drennan, sailing AUS1215 with Mal Parker and Wade Morgan, and Nils Razmilovic, sailing GBR1340 with Brian Hammersley and Charlie Cumbley, was fifth.

Although conditions were less extreme than yesterday the fleet still had their share of dramas. For the second day running Mark Watson, bowman aboard David Franks' GBR1354, managed to loose his footing on the foredeck and went over the side. "It was pretty much the same both days. The boat rolled, a wave came down the deck and I just lost my footing." he explained somewhat shamefaced. Fortunately a press boat was on hand to pick him up and reunite him with his team mates.

Stephen Bailey, sailing as bowman with Graham Bailey and David Heritage in GBR1352, won the juggler of the day award for his stellar performance in dropping the spinnaker pole over the side on the final hoist. They managed to fly the kite without the pole for the entire leg but as David Heritage put it "It made the gybes pretty interesting." Fortunately the pole was spotted by a support boat and returned after racing.

Thanks must go to our very own Freemantle Doctor, Gillian Cowen, who has done sterling service patching up the various minor injuries in the fleet. Today it was Steve Hayles' turn to consult the Doctor after he inured his hand and tonight he's sporting a very fine bandage and ice pack.

Theoretically there are three more races to sail but because of the terrible forecast, particularly for Saturday, the Race Committee tonight announced that provided at least one race is completed tomorrow there will be no racing on Saturday, the scheduled reserve day. There's a gale forecast for Thursday tonight and more extreme weather due on Saturday so we just have to hope that tomorrow's moderate weather window is large enough to get in two more races.

TOP TEN RESULTS

1 GBR 1361 Andy Beadsworth 1 6 (7) 3 4 1 - 15 points
2 GBR 1333 Ante Razmilovic 5 (15) 3 1 6 3 - 18 points
3 GBR 1332 James Howells 3 5 9 4 2 (18) - 23 points
4 USA 1351 Jud Smith (10) 2 2 6 8 6 - 24 points
5 AUS 1215 Noel Drennan (26) 1 10 7 11 4 - 33 points
6 IRL 1015 David Burrows 11 9 12 2 1 (31) - 35 points
7 USA 1306 Tom Hughes 6 (28) 6 12 3 9 - 36 points
8 NZL 1058 Jon Andrews 4 8 11 8 (22) 7 - 38 points
9 GBR 1340 Nils Razmilovic 2 34 1 (46) 7 5 - 49 points
10 USA 1327 Peter Duncan (33) 23 4 5 16 2 - 50 points

More pictures on the following pages...

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