Yet another bullet for Bertrand
Australian sailing legend John Bertrand and his crew Andrew Palfry and Tom Slingsby wrapped up the 2010 Etchells World Championship title in some style at Howth today with his fifth bullet in eight races and without even needing to sail the final race of the series.
The Royal Brighton Yacht Club crew remained totally focused throughout the regatta and five firsts represented a stunning level of consistency at this level. Nearest rival Ante Razmilovic suffered gear problems before the start of the first race of the final day which forced them ashore to effect repairs. Fortunately for them, there was a general recall which gave them time to reach the re-start on time but they had a poor race to finish mid-fleet. With Bertrand taking line honours again, it was all over for the Royal Hong Kong YC team.
For Bertrand, it is the fulfilment of a dream to win a world one-design championship to add to his Olympic bronze medal of 1976 and his famous America’s Cup triumph aboard Australia II 27 years ago. He practised on the race track for weeks before the event and his attention to detail was phenomenal, so the eventual outcome was the result of exceptional planning allied to technique, tactics and sheer sailing skill by the Aussie trio. Crewman Tom Slingsby had to forego the prize-giving dinner since he had to leave for the Laser Worlds at Hayling Island starting the next day.
In the morning race, Britain’s Julia Bailey enjoyed the first beat, leading Bertrand around the top mark in a fresh 20-knot+ northerly but the Australians’ superior downwind speed quickly saw that advantage wiped out. Bailey lost several places on the next leg and eventually finished 9th. Bertrand continued to stretch his lead while others swapped positions over the next two legs, with second place going to a very happy Tim Patton of Bermuda for his best result of the event.
Jud Smith and Peter Duncan filled the next two places, with Smith the leading US entry in 7th overall going into the final race. Best of the Irish contingent was Howth’s Laura Dillon on Lambay Rules in 12th spot.
Irish eyes were smiling early and late in the final race, firstly with Jay Bourke of the Royal St.George YC heading the fleet around the windward mark followed closely by Peter Duncan of the USA and Howth’s Dan O’Grady in 6th. By the leeward gate, another American Jud Smith had jumped from 7th to take the lead from Bourke, with O’Grady moving up another place. Smith held the lead to the finish, his win being the best score for a US team in an otherwise average week for American competitors.
By the next windward mark, O’Grady had third spot and by the finish, he had secured second place to record the best Irish result of the week. It was also sufficient to move O’Grady, with crewmen Peter Reilly and Owen Meade, up to 15th to finish top Irish boat of the championship, one place ahead of the Burrows family.
The new World Champion John Bertrand described the event as ‘a superbly organised championship’ and paid tribute to the Organising Committee chaired by Berchmans Gannon who was the first person to congratulate the Australians when they arrived back to the Howth marina.
Throughout the Etchells Worlds, Howth Yacht Club provided comprehensive online coverage of the competition through live racing updates from the water via Twitter, provisional results posted online within 30 minutes of race finishes, and daily news updates with regular image and video posts. The online coverage generated over 370,000 hits on the official Etchells Worlds website, with daily hits peaking at 59,194 for a single day. Australia, Great Britain and the USA provided the top number of hits although visitors identified from over 50 separate countries emphasized the worldwide demand for online coverage.
Twitter helped incorporate the social networking element into the online coverage and the number of unique daily visitors to the Worlds website has grew by over 55% throughout the week.