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6 August 2004, 11:06 am
Two Pints Separate Top Two Going Into Final Race
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Etchells World Championship
Mooloolaba, Queensland

Just two points separate the two leading boats Tom Pepper XVIII, skippered by Peter MCNEILL, and Pacesetter, steered by Cameron MILES, going into tomorrow's eighth and final race of the Championship 2004 being sailed off Mooloolaba.
Both McNeill, from Lake Macquarie, and Miles, the 1999 World champion from Pittwater, finished well back in today's light weather race and will discard that result.

Provisionally, this places McNeill on a net 47 points, Miles on 49 points, with America's Cup legend Dennis CONNER moving up to third overall with a fourth place today in Menace; but he is 20 points behind McNeill on 67 points.

Equal fourth on 72 points are Odyssey (Julian PLANTE) from Pittwater and Satu (Glenn COLLINGS) from Mornington, followed by Perth skipper Rob BIRD sailing Moody Blues on 89 points. Chris PRATT from Adelaide, sailing Squid, is on 94 points and young local Mooloolaba skipper Lucas DOWN, who had an 8th place today with Whooska, is eighth overall on 97 points.

However, more than a dozen boats are seeking redress from the International Jury under Racing Rule 62 as a result of the Race Committee's decision to abandon the first attempt at sailing race seven this morning. The hearing is being held this evening at Mooloolaba Yacht Club.

Principal Race Officer Arthur HODGE abandoned the race because of a 45 degree windshift when the leading boats were about halfway down the first spinnaker run.

Among the skippers seeking redress are Dennis CONNER who was sharing the lead with the Pittwater yachtsman Rob BROWN, sailing Steam Packet V, and Michael COXON at the helm of North Sydney. Also seeking redress is Cameron MILES.

They are expected to claim that their positions overall in the championship were materially prejudiced by the Race Committee's decision to abandon the race.

After the first attempt to sail race seven, followed by two general recalls and a postponent, racing did not get under way properly until 1.25pm, almost three-and-a-half hours after the scheduled start. The race was sailed in a 5-8 knot south-easterly and flat seas.

With the PRO hoisting the black flag, six boats were scored OCS, including Tasmanian Andrew HUNN in Zulu, who as a result has dropped from fifth to 13 in overall standings. Another who has faded from the top placings is super maxi skipper Grant WHARINGTON in Satu II, who finished 68 in the light air and has dropped from third to 10 overall.

Today's race was won by young Brisbane yachtsman Mark BRADFORD, sailing Racer X, winning by more than a minute from veteran Melbourne sailor and two-times former World champion John SAVAGE, sailing Cobra IV, with third place going to another young sailor, Julian PLANTE, at the helm of Odyssey.

Savage is still sailing with Peter GILLON and Andrew PLYMPTON, the same crew that won the Worlds in 1979 and 1988.

Bradford, a 33-year-old Brisbane sailmaker, is now part of the BMW Oracle America's Cup crew in the USA. He said he got an extraordinary port hand start on the starboard side of the line and then "played the shifts up the middle of the course" to follow Savage around the first weather mark.

"However, we out-foxed him on the spinnaker gybes, got through to the lead and once in front we had first use of the wind pressure," Bradford said. He added that in three years he had now sailed in 20 major regattas in the International Etchells class, winning State championships in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the New Zealand Nationals. He finished second to Englishman Stuart CHILDERLEY in the 2001 World Championship in New Zealand.

Race eight, the final heat of the ACE Etchells World Championship 2004 is scheduled to start off Mooloolaba at 10am tomorrow, with light 5-10 knot breezes forecast.

Overall Top Ten

Pos Nation Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 totql
1 AUS P. McNeill 2 8 11 13 8 5 -37 47
2 AUS C. Miles 11 12 8 5 10 3 -33 49
3 USA D. Conner 23 11 -44 8 2 19 4 67
4 AUS J. Plante 13 1 29 18 -42 8 3 72
5 AUS G. Collings 14 23 16 12 -28 1 6 72
6 AUS R. Bird 48 2 -51 11 12 9 7 89
7 AUS C. Pratt 9 -40 6 25 11 7 36 94
8 AUS L. Down 29 -47 1 31 5 23 8 97
9 AUS M. Bradford 28 5 14 39 -46 10 1 97
10 AUS G. Wharington 49 19 17 4 9 4 -68 102
Peter Campbell (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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