Mark BULKA, John BERTRAND and their all-star crews are locked in a fierce battle for the lead after the opening exchanges at the Commonwealth Bank 2009 Australian Etchells Championship, held in blazingly hot conditions at North Haven.
Tuesday proved another exciting day's racing at the Royal South Australia Yacht Squadron, venue for the Commonwealth Bank 2009 Australian Etchells Championships. Not only the champion sailors were hot, with furnace like northerly winds (40.5°C at Adelaide Airport) varying between 5-17 knots, the level of competition was scorching!
Following yesterday's dramas the protest committee sat until 23:00 hearing five protests, the most significant of which was the disqualification of Skip LISSIMAN's (AUS) Bandwagon from race one.
Race three started in north west winds of 6 knots and a 1.5nm beat was set, the fleet was 'clean away' at the first attempt. The breeze flicked to the left two minutes after the start causing the whole fleet to tack onto Port, and favouring the pin end starters.
Very little was between the tops boats at the windward mark, with John BERTRAND
(AUS) on Triad rounding first followed by Mark BULKA
(AUS) on Critical Balance, then Ian JOHNSON's (AUS) Bananas in Pyjamas.
Yesterday's contender LISSIMAN was buried in the fleet, with Sir James HARDY's (AUS) Foolhardy, hard on the heels of Rob BROWN (AUS) on Steampacket 7.
The next lap of the course the race committee reset the windward mark with wind increasing to 15 knots and staying in the North West.
BERTRAND retained a loose cover on BULKA with JOHNSON in third, finishing in that order
Triple Olympic gold medallist, Ben AINSLIE
(GBR), crew with Andrew PALFREY
(AUS) onboard BERTRAND's Triad, said, "We started two thirds of the way down the line out to the left, with more pressure and did a long port tack, then we were protecting our lead at the top"
, continuing "Doggy [PALFREY] and John did a great job downwind".
BULKA, who often trains with BERTRAND said, "I would take that every day, sailed a really good first beat, and a boat length behind BERTRAND at the top mark",
continuing, "BERTRAND had just a little more boat speed and he wasn't going to give us much, and kept a loose cover on us."
It took a 'black' flag and two general recalls to get the fleet away for the day's second race, with a long course set of 1.9nm to the windward mark.
The fleet split cleanly with local Chris PRATT (AUS) on La Vie Dansante leading the charge to the right hand side lay line, paying off handsomely with PRATT around first followed by BULKA and Brendan GARNER's (AUS) The Moe Szyslak Experience.
BERTRAND was trapped under a starboard tacker at the top mark rounding 10th. The wind then started to drop and the temperature increased significantly, with crews starting to sizzle in the fierce sunshine.
At the bottom mark, BULKA had overtaken PRATT, GARNER and BROWN rounded simultaneously at each of the downwind marks, with BROWN choosing the less popular leg out to sea. Halfway up the leg BROWN tacked across to protect his second position.
At the gun BULKA took first with BROWN second then PRATT. BERTRAND improved to take forth place.
BULKA commented, "That was good, we had a feeling that the left was starting to look bad, so we went right to the shore in the dying breeze. We were one boat length behind PRATT and second at the top mark, we passed him on the run by breaking an overlap, and again hit the right hand."
He went on to say "We reckon it's a race of sheet hands - James RYSSENBACK vs Ben AINSLIE!"
BROWN said, "We stayed in the middle left side and were fifth or six at the top mark, with a nice run down into third place and after that we consolidated to retain second".
With one protest lodged for redress, which does not include the first three positions. Provisional cumulative results show BULKA two points clear of BERTRAND, with New Zealander Alistair GARE on Velsheda in third.
Tomorrow, Wednesday has one race scheduled with a balmy 37°C forecast.
Sponsors have been quick to jump aboard, recognising the contribution sailing makes to the local community and keen to associate with a healthy outdoor sport. Sponsors include; The Commonwealth Bank, MUSTO, Club Marine Insurance, Coopers Brewery, Jacobs Creek Wines, Kaesler Wines and Aircommand Australia and the Royal SA Yacht Squadron.
Daily race updates and news including video clips will be posted on the website during the Championship, the website includes full details of the event, including Notice of Race (NOR) and a local guide Daily race updates and news including video clips will be posted on the website during the Championship, the website includes full details of the event, including Notice of Race (NOR) and a local guide www.09etchellsaustchamps.org.au