John BERTRAND and Rob BROWN, one of his crew of Australia II in their famous America's Cup victory in 1983, head the leader board after the first day of racing in the ACE Etchells Pre-Worlds Regatta #2 at Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
American Dennis CONNER, their rival back then at Newport, Rhode Island, is back in 10th place in standings after two short races in light to moderate north-easter breezes.
This is the second of three Pre-Worlds regattas being conducted by Mooloolaba Yacht Club in the lead-up to the ACE Etchells World Championship 2004 from 1-8 August.
The Sunshine Coast lived up to its name for the first two races, but just as the 22 boat fleet finished race two, a huge rain and hail storm hit the area with the boats disappearing in a "white-out".
Crews quickly dropped sails, with Mooloolaba Yacht Club's rescue boats swinging into action to tow the Etchells back to harbour, with no damage being reported.
Race one began in an 8 knot breeze with a general recall, with Dennis Conner over the line and forced to re-start at the second attempt. He was fourth last at the first windward mark, but took a "flyer" to the right-hand side of the course and, working the windshifts, did well to finish ninth.
Bertrand, from the Melbourne fleet, and Brown, from Pittwater, both got good starts, but the gun went to Queenslander Mark BRADFORD from fellow Brisbane fleet skipper John WARLOW, with 2004 Etchells Australian champion Mark BULKA from Victoria's Mornington fleet finishing third, ahead of Bertrand in fourth place, Brown placing sixth.
Race two saw another general recall, with Conner again going for the pin end of the line, but this time making sure he did not break the start, while Bertrand favoured the middle of the line.
However, it was Brown who got the best start to lead throughout the race, Bertrand always in the top six to finish third, close astern of Brown and another Pittwater sailor, Julian PLANTE. Conner's decision to again go for the pin end did not pay off; from 17th at the first windward mark he finished 10th.
Local Mooloolaba fleet skippers David TURTON and Lucas DOWN finished seventh and eighth, with Down sailing with a hand in plaster, broken when playing touch football last Tuesday.
Turton, who won last weekend's first ACE Etchells Pre-Worlds Regatta, continued his good form with a fourth in race two.
Overall standings after two races of this weekend's Pre-Worlds regatta place Brown and Bertrand on 7 points each, followed by a three-way tie on 8 points between Mark BRADFORD, John WARLOW and Mark Bulka. David TURON is on 11 points, Julian PLANTE 13, New Zealander Gavin GERARD 16, David ROSE (Brisbane0 18 and Dennis CONNER, from the San Diego fleet, on 19 points.
The Etchells World Championship starts on 28 July-8 August.