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5 August 2004, 02:41 pm
Spectacular Day on the Water
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Etchells World Championship
Mooloolaba, Queensland

Strong winds, collisions, disqualifications, wild broaches, torn sails, protests, some minor injuries to the sailors, and even a whale on the race course, provided a spectacular fourth day of sailing in the ACE Etchells World Championship 2004.
Michael MANFORD from Perth, skippering The Croc, followed his win yesterday by taking out this morning's race in fine style, but was among several boats disqualified for being OCS (on course side) at the start of the afternoon race.

Among the others called by the Race Committee was overall second placegetter Cameron MILES, a former Etchells World Champion from Pittwater, helming Pacesetter, and leading Sydney sailor Michael COXON, steering North Sydney.

The afternoon race went to Satu, skippered by Glen COLLINGS from Mornington, Victoria, a former World OK dinghy champion who has been sailing Etchells for only the past year.

At the end of the day, after six of the eight races on the program, the clear overall leader is still Peter MCNEILL from Lake Macquarie with Cameron MILES holding second overall, despite his disqualification from race six.

However, results are provisional with eight protests or appeals for redress, with both McNeill and Miles before the International Jury tonight,

McNeill, steering Tom Pepper XVII, continued his consistent sailing with a ninth and a fourth today for a total, after one discard race, of 35 points. Miles has 47 points after being able to drop the OCS.

Ocean racing yachtsman Grant WHARINGTON, steering Satu II, also from Mornington, has moved up to third overall with placings of tenth and third today to be on 53 points, while Chris PRATT from Adelaide has sailed Squid into a close fourth overall on 58 points.

Just one point back is Tasmanian Andrew HUNN, sailing Zulu. He has 59 points after discarding the morning race result of 51 and finishing 12 this afternoon.

It was a day of difficult conditions for race officials and sailors, with the freshening breeze backing from west nor'west to west sou'west and varying in strength during the day from 12 knots to 20 knots. A short, choppy sea added to the testing conditions.

This morning's race, race five saw the first general recall of the competition with Michael MANFORD getting an excellent start in The Crop and working the oscillating breeze up the course.

With a large number of boats coming into the first weather mark on port tack, then tacking to lay the mark, amid an armada of starboard tackers, there were several collisions, including one in which three boats were involved.

However, Manford was well clear of the melee and sailed away to lead at each mark, with Dennis CONNER steering Menace into second place at the finish, third going to Melbourne international yachtsman Noel DRENNAN, sailing A Cat and Two Saints.

With the finish off the wind, it was an extraordinary sight as 85 boats came surfing down to the line, at times a dozen or more boats abreast.

Race officials called six boats as OCS at the start of race six, among them being Michael MANFORD, Cameron MILES and Michael COXON. Dennis CONNER was also over the line at the gun, but returned to re-start. "Coming back from 85 to finish 18 was very pleasing," an amiable Conner said later.

Glen COLLINGS, the former World OK Dinghy Champion from Victoria's Mornington Yacht Club, worked the middle of the course, picking the windshifts well to grab a handy lead at the first weather mark and leading for the rest of the race.

Cameron APPLETON, the Team Zealand America's Cup deputy helmsman tried to force them into a match race over the final few hundred metres to the finish but could not break through. "We knew they were coming at us and were prepared…it was great to beat a crack America's Cup crew," a delighted Collings said after the race.

Appleton finished 23 seconds astern of Collings with Cameron MILES crossing the line in third place but OCS, third thus going to Grant WHARINGTON with Peter MCNEILL steadily improving throughout the race to finish fourth.

The Italian crew of Hobe El Bahir continued their run of bad luck. They broke their mast on Tuesday, sailing up the Moololah River to their berth, borrowed a spare rig from Dennis CONNER to race yesterday, but their regatta virtually ended today with the boat holed in a collision and their spinnaker blown to pieces.

While the large whale surfaced several times near the Italian boat, there was no report that it caused the hole in the hull.

Several boats retired with sail and rig damage in the strong winds, while Australian champion Mark BULKA from Mornington, sailing Balanced A-Tac retired from race six with a crewman suffered a back problem.

Top Ten After Six Races

Pos Nation Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1 AUS Peter MCNEILL 2 8 11 -13 9 4 34
2 AUS Cameron MILES 11 12 8 5 11 (86\OCS) 47
3 AUS Grant WHARINGTON -49 19 17 4 10 3 53
4 AUS Chris PRATT 9 -40 6 25 12 6 58
5 AUS Andrew HUNN 7 7 19 14 -51 12 59
6 USA Dennis CONNER 23 11 -44 8 2 18 62
7 AUS Glenn COLLINGS 14 23 16 12 -29 1 66
8 AUS Jason MUIR 6 -61 7 6 6 42 67
9 AUS Julian PLANTE 13 1 29 18 -43 7 68
10 AUS Bruce MCBRIAR 12 10 9 9 -44 34 74

Peter Campbell (As Amended by ISAF)
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