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15 January 2009, 05:11 pm
BERTRAND, AINSLIE And PALFREY Change Gear To Win Aussie Etchells Championship A Day Early!
Racing at North Haven
Day two at North Haven was a scorcher

Commonwealth Bank Australian Etchells Championship 2009
North Haven, Australia

Another day of pumping sea breeze and sparkling conditions in the Gulf St Vincent for competitors in the Commonwealth Bank 2009 Australian Etchells Championships, hosted by the Royal SA Yacht Squadron.
The results of last night deliberations of the race committee included redress to Gary Smith Tusk, for stopping to assist in yesterday MOB incident awarded points equal to 20th place.

The weather bureau issued a strong wind warning for the Gulf Waters with a forecast sea breeze building to 28knts.

Race seven, started in confused seas with the tide ebbing and the race officer Malcolm HUGHES setting a windward leg of 1.8nm at 190 degrees.

The boats got away under a black flag after two general recalls in 20 knots of breeze and a 0.5 metre slop from the south-west, a ferocious tide dragging the fleet over.

Local Shane DUESSON on Wood Duck, just made the start after emergency repairs to the traveller.

At the start, the fleet split with 7 boats taking the right hand side out to sea, 6 boats choosing to go deep into Largs Bay and the rest of fleet playing minor shifts in the middle of the course.

At the top mark in a repeat of yesterday's performance, Alistair GAIR (NZL) and crew Velsheda emerged from the long lay line of boats on starboard, obviously relishing the conditions with a minutes lead over Rob BROWN (AUS) on Steampacket 7, followed by John BERTRAND's (AUS) Triad in third. The fleet set off on another surfing competition down wind.

At the top mark, the second time around GAIR had a 35 second lead over BERTRAND with a boatlength over Mark BRADFORD's (AUS) Roni.

At the gun another polished win for GAIR with BRADFORD just in front of BERTRAND third.

Ben AINSLIE (GBR), crew for BERTRAND, commenting, said, "Most breeze of the regatta, though with shifty winds, we started middle of the line, not the best and third at the top mark, continuing we tried to catch the Kiwis boat [Velsheda]. A close call all of the way, we picked the wrong side of the finish line."

Race eight was almost a re-run of yesterday with winds to 22 knots, the fleet was cleanly away on the first start and with the tide flooding, took a deep dig into Largs Bay. The wind continued to blow from 200 degrees shifting to 210 degrees with the waves now forming at around 2-3 metres with a wavelength of 10 metres.

BERTRAND changed gear to emerge on Port with a 35 second lead over Ian JOHNSON's (AUS) Bananas in Pyjamas, with BROWN in third and GAIR buried in seventh place.

With big wave sets now rolling in the fleet set off on another screaming run.

The second beat saw the fleet dive into the reduced tide of Largs Bay, with BERTRAND holding his lead round first with the improving GAIR second and JOHNSON third. The scene was set for GAIR to fire on the surfing leg before his kite tore on the hoist.

BERTRAND cruised home to win the race and championship, with JOHNSON second and GAIR third.

BERTRAND has a total of 13 points with GAIR on 20 points and Mark BULKA's (AUS) Critical Balance on 26. With one race to drop GAIR can only end up with 14 points, even if he wins tomorrow.

Asked if he was enjoying the series BERTRAND said, "Well yeah, bloody oath, continuing he said tough racing physically, full on."

From BROWN the comments were, "My back is sore, and we are just a little bit off the pace, apart from that everything is just a box full of budgies."

Sir James HARDY (AUS), who is second in the Grand Masters division, said the conditions were a bit too fresh although I he was enjoying it, "I am the same age as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, though I think it will see me out!" He went onto say Etchells, clearly the most competitive senior class, BERTRAND and GAIR both class acts with AINSLIE unquestionably the best small boat sailor in the world, and pushing the best of all time Paul ELVSTRÖM.

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.
Steve Hall (As Amended By ISAF)
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