Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009: Day 2 - The tough get tougher; a change in the top 10

The final run home on Day 2 of the Audi Etchells Worlds. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

by Di Pearson

John Bertrand and his crew of Ben Ainslie and Andrew Palfrey (AUS) led the 85-strong 2009 Audi Etchells Worlds fleet from go to whoa in the three-lap windward/leeward Race 3 today, sailed off Royal Brighton Yacht Club, the host for the series.

Bertrand increased his lead marginally at each rounding to defeat Chris Busch/Chad Hough/Chuck Sinks/David Hughes (USA) by around one minute and Stuart Childerley/Robert Elliott/Sam Richmond (UK) and Jud Smith/Mark Johnson/Nik Burfoot (AUS) followed.

The three threw everything they could at crew Bertrand in breezes that averaged 8.2 knots and peaked at 11 knots on Port Phillip today, but to no avail.

“We had a nice start mid-line and decided to play the shifts up the middle,” said Ben Ainslie this afternoon.

“We stayed a little ahead of the fleet. We had good speed and from there we got the breaks. We didn’t do or try for anything clever, we just stuck with the other guys and covered,” he said.

John Bertrand, Andrew Palfrey and Ben Ainslie sailed a perfect race on Day 2. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Jud Smith/Mark Johnson/Nik Burfoot (AUS) had a better day, with a fourth placing. Smith was sixth around the top mark the first time and moved up two places by the end, much better than their Day 1, a fourth placing lifting one of the favourites up into third place overall.

“We had better strategy about what we wanted to do today,” Smith said this evening. “We didn’t get any breaks yesterday, so we got ourselves geared up and made changes today,” he said.

On their chances of finishing on the podium, the American said: “We’ve got six races to go and it’s a game of attrition. Some will keep it together and others will fall away, we are looking to keep it together.” Smith said that he and the crew were not expecting such light airs. “Well not judging on what we’ve been getting in Melbourne the last few weeks,” he said.

Close racing on Day 2. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

He also concedes: “Bertrand is sailing better than everyone else. Everyone else is showing chinks in the armour. I may be too conservative, but I don’t want to shoot ourselves; the worst thing you can do is beat yourself, and we did that a bit yesterday.”

Team Mark Bradford (AUS) is not doing as well as some thought they would. Middle crew Michael O’Brien explains: “We are more configured for heavy air sailing; we’re just looking for speed all the time.”

America’s Cup sailor Noel ‘Nitro’ Drennan, an Australian skippering a USA entry, is very happy with his and crew Steven Jarvin and Will McCarthy’s fifth overall performance after three races.

Drennan has been away involved in the America’s Cup and other races and has not had his backside in an Etchells for some time. “He had a win in Race 2, but finished 20th today. “We’re pretty happy.

“We rounded the top mark in the late 20’s and made our way back to 20th – anything in a top 25 finish I consider a good result – I thought we’d be way worse because I haven’t sailed Etchells in ages. I’m pleased with where we are,” he said.

Although set down for a 2.00pm start local time, conditions did not settle enough until after 2.30pm. A general recall, with most of the fleet piled up at the windward end of the line, heralded Race 3.

Getting ready to hoist the kite on Day 2. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

Race Officials moved the pin end of the line, making it a biased line, just to entice the fleet to spread out. That action had some effect, but not to degree Principal Race Officer Ross Wilson and his crew would have liked.

At least the fleet got off the 1000 metre long start line cleanly second time around. “Seventy percent of the fleet favoured the windward end of the line,” Wilson said this afternoon. “Most competitors thought the breeze would go right, so they all wanted to be at the windward end,” he said.

Sitting at the pin end of the line for the start, Tim Patten (BER), Mark Doyle (AUS), Mark Bradford (AUS), Brendan Dukes (AUS), Roger Hickman (AUS) and Graham Alexander (AUS) all got off the line well, but only Doyle survived to round the first windward mark in second place behind Bertrand, while the rest fell by the wayside. Doyle eventually finished sixth.

Currently, Bertrand is at the top of the leaderboard with 15 points, Queensland’s Jason Muir/Matthew Chew/Paul Wyatt/Bucky Smith (AUS) have held on to second place and on 20 points after another solid day of racing with a fifth place finish, while Jud Smith has moved up to third.

Back at the dock after racing. Image copyright Andrea Francolini/Audi.

The nine race series continues tomorrow with two more races planned starting from 12.00pm, weather permitting. Once crews have put six races away, they are able to drop their worst score.

The Audi Etchells World Championship is being sailed on Port Phillip Bay and is organised by the Melbourne Etchells Fleet in conjunction with the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, host of many Etchells championships, including the Nationals in 2006.

Provisional top 10 following three races:

1 BERTRAND, John/PALFREY, Andrew/AINSLIE, Ben (AUS) 3,11,1 15pts
2 MUIR, Jason/CHEW, Matthew/WYATT, Paul/SMITH, Bucky (AUS) 10,5,5 20pts
3 SMITH, Judd/JOHNSON, Mark/BURFOOT, Nik (AUS) 18,13,4 35pts
4 KING, Damien/CUNNINGTON, Simon/WARE, James/BUTLER, Andrew (AUS) 15,3,23 41pts
5 DRENNAN, Noel/JARVIN, Steven/MCCARTHY, William (AUS) 21,1,20 42pts
6 TILLY, Jervis/NATTRASS, Nigel/ARNOLD, James (AUS) 22,7,14 43pts
7 SAVAGE, John/JOHNSTONE, Wayne/MACQUET, Jean-Pierre (AUS) 12,14,22 48pts
8 GAIR, Alastair/RIDLEY, David/JOHNSTON, Rhys/SCOTT, Derek (NZL) 19,6,30 55pts
9 GARNER, Brendan/SCHILT, Michael/CLARK, Tim (AUS) 17,28,10 55pts
10 PLANTE, Julian/COXON, Michael/DUNSTAN, Michael (AUS) 11,9,39 59pts

Audi Etchells Worlds 2009

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