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4 January 2004, 10:01 am
Englishmen Thrive In Wet Wild Conditions
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Frank HAVIK (NEDand crew

Flying Dutchman World Championship

With gusty winds clocked at up to 40 knots on Port Phillip Bay, competitors in the Flying Dutchman Worlds were kept ashore for some time today until Race Officials were satisfied that conditions had eased and settled enough to hold a satisfactory race.
Not only did the wind howl, but it poured with rain, then the breeze disappeared completely, came back with a vengeance then disappeared again and so it continued.

Eventually, around 3.15pm, the AP flag came down and the 55-strong fleet was sent out to bat in conditions that can only be described as wet, shifting variable 10-19 knot winds accompanied by big lumpy seas - not a day for the feint-hearted, but good for heavier crews.

A trying day was had by all - both afloat and ashore, the breeze starting in the south, moving around to the south-east, then east-sou-east and continued to oscillate.

With the conditions as they were, it was inevitable there would be casualties, though surprisingly not too many. One of the worst a partially broken mast for husband and wife team Clovis BUIJS/Marlene VAN BALLEGOOIJEN (NED).

As a frustrated Buijs explained, "this is very disappointing. First we are waiting around for a long time, our first race should have started at 10.30am, but due to high winds, then no wind, then more high winds, we have to wait. Then we finally get off the beach after 3.00pm and then we have this break in our mast just after we completed the first triangle and were doing the upwind sausage, we will have to get this fixed for tomorrow."

However, it was the 'Poms' day today, Toby DALE/James COLE (GBR) the clear winners from second placed Ian Mccrossin/James COOK (AUS) and once again, the newcomers that won't go away, Victorians Gavin DAGLEY/John DRYDEN (AUS), who finished with a nose of each other. Fourth, fifth and sixth places were filled by Hans GENTHE/Hauke DRENENBERG (GER), Norman RYDGE/Richard SCARR (AUS) and Brett BEYER/Roddy JOHNSON (AUS) respectively.

The World champions, Szabolcs MAJTHENYI/Andras DOMOKOS (HUN) had to be satisfied with fourth today, 'it was nice out there today, yes it was good. Also good, we still lead the series,' a smiling Majthenyi said as he pulled his boat ashore.

John DRYDEN agreed, "we got around the course today without breaking anything, we finished third, and it was a lot of fun out there so we are happy."

However, the day belonged to the Poms, and a very excited Dale said, "I feel quite good, we had an excellent sail, the breeze filled in nicely. We won going left up the last beat. This is our first time in Australia and it's great, we have no regrets about coming here. We came because we did alright at the Europeans, so thought 'why not?'."

"We have struggled here a bit to find our form, but today we were up in the top three or four throughout, with the other major placegetters and it was quite spectacular racing, especially on the downwind legs, we all just flew," he added.

In fact, most competitors came ashore commenting on their enjoyment of today's tactically and elementally challenging race, adding they wouldn't mind more of the same tomorrow.

Racing will continue tomorrow on Port Phillip Bay. Due to the fact that only one of the two scheduled races was sailed today, Sandringham Yacht Club officials have scheduled two races instead of one tomorrow, starting at 10.30am local time, with a second race to start at 1430 hours.

Overall, Majthenyi/Domokos continue to clearly lead the series after four races with eight points, from Hans Peter SCHWARZ/Peter van KOPPEN (GER) with ten, Dale/Cole on 19 and Genthe/Drenenberg 20.

The 420 World Championships commence at Mornington Yacht Club tomorrow, officials there hoping to get three races in.
Di Pearson (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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