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19 November 2006, 04:22 pm
SMITH Holds On To Lead
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Audi Etchells World Championship 2006
Fremantle, Australia

A win on day one followed by a second today and Marblehead sailor Jud SMITH (USA) leads the 70 boat 2006 Audi Etchells Worlds fleet in Fremantle, Australia. The 'Fremantle Doctor' must have been busy with house calls today as the sea breeze did not lift above 14 knots.
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SMITH sailing with Canadian Dirk KNEULMAN, the 1998 Etchells World Champion and two Kiwi's Andrew WELLS the New Zealand Optimist coach and 48 kg 14 year old Opti sailor Thomas SAUNDERS, sailed into second place and retained the regatta lead.

Dockside SMITH first wanted to praise his youngest crewman. 'The four man crew is really working well. Thomas has been really sailing well. He has some good moves, very mature, he is a good yachtie.'

Then to the racing... 'The die was cast on the first beat. There was not a lot of wind, you had to commit early; we decided to start in the lower half. The leaders at the windward mark all came off the leeward line, the pressure filled in from the left. Dave CLARK [(AUS)] was windward end of the leeward line and just sailed away.

'At the top mark, the Brit Barry PARKIN had done a good job and we were third. The first run was risky; we centred ourself to reduce the risk. Michael MANFORD [(AUS)] was battling with us, we discovered he was OCS.

SMITH's Challengers

'I was watching for Mark BULKA [(AUS)], he came 13th today; we rate him as one of the big threats. But there are another ten or 15 to watch. Andy BEADSWORTH [(GBR)] has lifted a notch after sailing well at the Europeans and Chris Busch [(USA)] is going well. Rob BROWN [(AUS)] was third today. Stuart CHILDERLEY [(GBR)] was going well, he just missed one shift, but he will be a threat when the breeze picks up.' And the final modest comment, 'We were just lucky to survive the day.'

Pittwater sailor CLARK opened a big margin to record an 82 second win against what is probably the strongest Etchells fleet of the last decade. CLARK was a trimmer aboard the New Zealand boat in the America's Cup 1987 in Fremantle.

'I spent 20 years in New Zealand, but I married a Perth girl and I've sailed more in Fremantle than anywhere else. I was tactician aboard Syd FISHER's [Australian] boat in San Diego in 1992. I campaigned a Soling up to the 2000 Olympics with two Perth guys, David LIGHTFOOT and Mike HUGHES. Yesterday a 19th, today a first, we just need to keep accumulating counters!'

Key Players

There were some observations from other key players.

Dual World Etchells Champion CHILDERLEY had a tough race 1, going back for a restart though not OCS. 'We were just a bit too pronounced, better to start the week with a 27th, rather than an OCS. Today we misjudged a cross and had to do a 720. We seem to be going forward, but we just keep making little errors. We have plenty of work to do this week.'

Alastair GAIR (NZL) finished second yesterday. 'Too far back on the start, a boat rolled us and forced us to the wrong side of the course, finished in the mid 20's but we will learn from that.'

Racing will continue tomorrow through until Saturday 25 November

The World Championship title sponsor Audi Australia also sponsored the 2006 Audi Etchells Nationals. Audi Australia are supporting a wide range of Australian sailing events including the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and the Audi Regatta in Sydney, and will be certain to make this a memorable event. The Maersk shipping Line is another Premium Sponsor and their support has meant that 28 containers have brought Etchells to Perth from around the world.
Rob Kothe (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Dave CLARK won today's race:© Steb Fisher/www.steb.com.au
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