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2 July 2007, 08:54 am
BEADSWORTH Wins World Title
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Etchells World Championship 2007
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

Despite constant rain and poor visibility the final race of the Etchells World Championship in Cowes was an absolute stunner. In a stunning final showdown for the championship, Andy BEADSWORTH (GBR) won out against Ante RAZMILOVIC (GBR) to lift the World title.

Conditions improved for the final day of racing in Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain. At last the wind had moderated, although conditions were still extremely testing with constant shifts in the southwesterly breeze which varied from 8 to 15 knots as the bands of rain came through.

2006 World Champion Jud SMITH (USA), sailing USA1361 with David MCCLINTOCK and Steve GIRLING, bowed out of his tenure as World Champion in true style by giving the rest of the fleet a master class in Etchells sailing to win the final race and take second overall. But the day belonged to BEADSWORTH, Oscar STRUGSTAD and Simon FRY (GBR), sailing GBR1361, as they took on and ultimately trounced RAZMILOVIC, Jez FANSTONE and Stuart FLINN sailing GBR1333.

Going into the final race BEADSWORTH knew that RAZMILOVIC was his only rival for the title and the two boats came off the line side by side just to the left of centre. BEADSWORTH was to weather as they headed off on starboard but RAZMILOVIC had a little more speed and began to climb out eventually forcing BEADSWORTH to tack and initiating a gripping match race style dog fight. The main body of the fleet had gone right and before long the two boats were out on their own going at it hammer and tongs. The atmosphere was electric and spectators held their breaths each time the boats came back together. BEADSWORTH's greater match racing experience showed and although RAZMILOVIC briefly had the upper hand it wasn't long before he was back in control as the pair rejoined the main body of the fleet at the top of the beat.

At the weather mark it was Tom HUGHES, sailing USA1306 with Ron ROSENBERG and Steve HAYLES, leading with SMITH second, Jake GUNTHER, sailing AUS1244 with Andrew COOPER and Russell TYSON, third and Nils RAZMILOVIC, sailing GBR1340 with Brian HAMMERSLEY and Charlie CUMBLEY, fourth. Despite the distractions of their dog fight BEADSWORTH still rounded ninth with Ante RAZMILOVIC 12th.

The leading four held their positions down the first run while BEADSWORTH pulled up into eighth and Ante RAZMILOVIC dropped down to 14th. On the second beat SMITH was perfectly in tune with the shifts and sailed round HUGHES to lead at the second weather mark. Nils RAZMILOVIC had picked up a place to round third just ahead of Gunther, while BEADSWORTH held eighth and Ante RAZMILOVIC came back up to 12th.

Second Run

The leading group held their order on the second run but behind them BEADSWORTH moved up into sixth place and Ante RAZMILOVIC to 11th. As the boats rounded the final mark ready for the long beat to the finish BEADSWORTH was the first boat to go for the right side of the gate. He tacked back left immediately but the move was to prove a crucial one as it gave him clearer air and put him onto the edge of a slightly stronger lifting breeze band.

SMITH and HUGHES were clear of the pack, but behind them it was a joy to watch BEADSWORTH, STRUGSTAD and FRY who kept right of the group and had one of those perfect sailing moments in absolute tune with the wind. Each time they came back towards the fleet they had gained. First they overtook fifth placed Peter DUNCAN, then picked off Jake GUNTHER for fourth. At they approached the finish they were neck and neck with Nils RAZMILOVIC vying for third. Yet again they were on top of the breeze and as Nils RAZMILOVIC took a final hitch right they stayed left and gained one final place to finish third and take the championship convincingly.

At the prizegiving ceremony outgoing World Champion SMITH, for whom this is a fifth second place at an Etchells Worlds, paid tribute to the new World Champions declaring them worthy winners and thanking them and the rest of the fleet for a great competition.

An elated BEADSWORTH paid tribute to his co-owner STRUGSTAD and team mate FRY, 'Simon and I had a crack at it last year with a different co-owner as a last minute thing and we were competitive. At that time we were already committed to this programme which was very much targeted at trying to win these worlds. We talked about doing something with Oscar and discussed whether he drove or I drove or what ever and we decided that trying to win the worlds was our goal and this was the best way we could do it together as a team. Since then we've worked hard to put the programme together in the best way we possibly could.

'We bought the boat in America at the beginning of the year and did Miami, then came back here and did all of the UK events. We've had great competition from the UK fleet which has been vital in helping us to raise our game to this level. I think the thing I'm most proud of in winning this Worlds is that we led on the opening day and we've led every day since so I feel we can be very happy with ourselves.

'Oscar has been fantastic. It's been a really fun campaign and he's made fantastic decisions and has been a really integral member of the team. It's very rare that you get somebody like Oscar who does this sort of thing. He's put a lot of effort in and as he said at the prize giving some of the best and worst sailing moments of his life have been in the Etchells. I can remember days when we've been going upwind and Stirfry's been shouting 'hike harder!' and I've looked at him and he's been so determined that he's almost had tears in his eyes and I've had to say, you know, relax, this is supposed to be for fun.'

This event would not have been possible without the generous support of the many individual volunteers and members of the Cowes Etchells fleet who gave so generously of their time and supported the event in many different ways. In particular the organizers would like to acknowledge the generous financial contribution made by Etchells owners Mike TILL, Paul KELSEY, Doug FLYNN, Robert ELLIOTT, Ante RAZMILOVIC and Nils RAZMILOVIC. Last by no means least the organizers would like to thank corporate supporters Greenhill & Co Investment Bank, Slam, North Sails and Mount Gay.

Fiona Brown (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The new World Champions:© Paul Wyeth - www.pwpictures.com
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