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4 January 2004, 08:36 pm
Two Races Concluded On Opening Day - OCS and Sharks!
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International 14 South Pacific and Australian National
Melbourne

1999 International 14 World Champion Grant GEDDES was yesterday disqualified from Race #1 of the 2003/2004 Sail Melbourne International 14 South Pacific and Australian National Championships after being over the line at the start of the first race.
With the sea breeze once again refusing to behave itself race 1 got underway in a light 8 knot southerly with brilliant blue skies. The early part of the 1st windward leg had those on the left in the money, including David ALEXANDER, Grant GEDDES, Jason BEEBE and Greg COUTTS. However at the 1st windward mark it was Matt LOWE and Derek LAYFIELD in the Paddy Wagon picking up pressure from the right layline that lead around the mark from the chasing pack that included Mark ELSWORTH, Grant GEDDES, James MAC & Jason KING and Lindsay IRWIN.

The first run saw those that took the right side of the run lose out to those boats that gybed after the clearance mark At the first leeward mark Grant GEDDES lead from Matt LOWE, Mark ELSWORTH, Jason KING and Lindsay IRWIN close behind.

Up the next work Grant GEDDES suffered the indignity of his world championship boat crossing him for the lead only for Geddes to re-establish the lead at the second windward mark.

Down the reaches the wind shifted to the west making the second reach too tight to carry kites. The leaders all fired off into oblivion before sighting the mark, dropping kites and reaching back to the leeward gate. Running order was Geddes, Elsworth, Irwin & Lowe in the top pack.

Positions and breeze stayed constant up the next work with the right side of the course providing the best pressure. At the top mark with the breeze filling in Irwin gybed on the mark leading the front runners Geddes and Elsworth to the left side of the run. At the next leeward mark Geddes lead by a boat length from Irwin and Elsworth close behind.

Up the final work Irwin played the middle of the course whilst Geddes nailed the right corner and with the breeze increasing the expected left shift arrived leaving Irwin to cross into first place and lead Geddes home by 30 seconds with Elsworth a further 30 seconds back. Jason BEEBE, with Prince of Wales Cup runner up Chris Turner crewing, crossed the line fourth but was promoted to third after Geddes was adjudged to be OCS. Top six was therefore, Irwin, Elsworth, Beebe, Krstic, Alan VICKERY and Matt LOWE fading in the increasing pressure to sixth place.

Handicap winners were Philip Strong in Magic from newcomers Sean STEVENS and Brian LONG with veterans David MCGEOCH and Geoff TOMAMICHEL in third place.

Race 2 - 15 Knots

Lindsay IRWIN in Irwin Sails had the lead of race 2 in the Sail Melbourne International 14 South Pacific and Australian National Championships taken from him by what is presumed to be shark after the boat and fish came in contact at high speed. The impact brought Irwin to a dead stop with the centerboard pushed back into the hull at 45 degrees. Later inspection of the leading edge of the centerboard revealed no impact damage and with Irwin convinced that the obstacle was closing toward the boat, it's presumed that there's a large fish with a very sore head somewhere in Port Phillip Bay.

Race 2 got away in a 15 knot southerly that moderated as the boats made their way up the first beat. Those in contention EARLY in the first work included Jason BEEBE, Mark ELSWORTH, Lindsay Irwin and Grant GEDDES. As the breeze moderated Geddes headed for the right layline and found better pressure and a small right shift to lead around the first mark from Irwin with Beebe and Elsworth overlapped as they rounded. Dave Alexander attempted an ambitious move by tacking inside Craig Padman and Anthony Anderson at the windward mark forcing the later two head to wind to avoid a collision and earning a 720 penalty in the process. A swim during the 720 further added to the pain.

Irwin Sails kite recall line snagged badly on the hoist, forcing Beebe over them and Elsworth to gybe off to port. At the bottom of the course the order was Geddes from Elsworth, Irwin and Beebe. Up the next work Geddes overlaid the right hand layline allowing Irwin and Beebe to close up with the rounding order being Irwin, Geddes and Beebe. With a shift to the right once again the second reach was a two sail affair with Irwin leading until they came to shuddering halt after hitting what is believed to be a small shark driving the centerboard back into the hull and coming close to a cartwheel. Geddes led at the bottom mark from Irwin and Beebe.

Positions remained the same at the next windward mark with Irwin Sails closing the gap to Geddes. The next run saw Beebe close on Second place as Irwin sails slowed with water entering through the gash in the hull.

Up the final work Geddes went on to first place with Beebe second and Irwin holding on for third place from Krstic, Alex NEWMAN and Alan VICKERY in sixth.

Handicap results saw Alex Newman take the honors from Craig PADMAN and RICHARD Ekberg.

Racing continues today, Sunday, for the 3rd race at Black Rock Yacht Club.
Andy Loukes
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