SMITH won the first race in the series and was second yesterday. Today he sailed through Briton Andy BEADSWORTH on the final beat, gaining 37 seconds, to take the gun for the second time with Noel 'Nitro' DRENNAN (AUS) third, ahead of Alastair GAIR (NZL).
Overall Smith leads the series with four points with 1,2,1 from BEADSWORTH on nine points from 3,4,2. In third place is GAIR on 29 points with 2,23,4. This eight race series has a drop and once that is applied the leaders will close up.
A fresh day on the water with the 'Fremantle Doctor' or Docker in early, plenty of whitecaps, or as the Kiwi born PRO Denis THOMPSON says 'there were plenty of sheep in the paddock.'
Three general recalls. It seems that every one who was slow off the line in the first two races made a Monday morning resolution to be fast today. The Course was 215, the first leg length three miles.
The left was paying and that was where the lead group came from. Coming up to the weather mark, BEADSWORTH led by a boat length to Mark 'Squark' BRADFORD (AUS), with DRENNAN third and regatta leader SMITH fourth, then Julian PLANTE (AUS) fifth and David BEDFORD (GBR) sixth.
There was a ten degree course change to the right, at the top mark. Down the run BEADSWORTH was just holding out DRENNAN, who won on this same course at the Australian Nationals in 1991, with SMITH only a boat length back. DRENNAN's Oracle BMW America's Cup team mate BRADFORD was fourth, just ahead of PLANTE and BEDFORD.
Mark BULKA (AUS) was seventh. Behind them three skippers made giant gains down the run; Stuart CHILDERLEY (GBR), John BERTRAND (AUS) and Chris BUSCH (USA) came through the fleet 600 metres to the left. Officials then signalled another five degree course adjustment to 225. BEADSWORTH still lead at the top mark for second time and was just a boat length ahead of the silver haired North American SMITH, who sailed through DRENNAN on the second beat. BRADFORD was another two boat lengths back.
There was a six boat length gap to the second bunch, led by PLANTE with New Zealander GAIR having come from the 'Gods', gaining eight places up the beat. CHILDERLEY was eighth ahead of BULKA, BEDFORD and BERTRAND.
With a large Naval vessel steaming north, the last beat was shortened to finish east of the channel, so the leg length was amended to only 1.6 miles. Up the last beat BEADSWORTH was three boat lengths ahead of SMITH, another two boat lengths back to DRENNAN with BRADFORD very close behind. In fifth place was PLANTE. GAIR was close behind PLANTE, with CHILDERLEY hot on his heels. But SMITH had a clear lane and BEADSWORTH sailed through heavy downwind traffic and fell back. SMITH took the lead and thence the gun.
Back on the dock SMITH told the story of his day. 'We had a lousy start on one of those general recalls and so we were lucky that was called back.
'We sailed with our light medium jib and we think that helped us to the first mark. We stayed close all through the race to Andy BEADSWORTH. Then at the final bottom mark, we switched gates with them, we faked left and went right, and he was committed to the left. I got snuckered just the same way by Dennis and then last year by Hank LAMMENS and lost both times as you have to sail through the fleet to cover and that costs. Andy is sailing very well .There are plenty of guys who will threaten after the drop. What Alistair GAIR did today was pretty impressive coming back from the high teens to top five and we rate him as a big chance.'
BERTRAND sixth overall, commented 'Clearly Jud is going very well. Got good all round speed, they are sailing loose and sailing very well. We just have to find another gear to hold our lane, but there is still a long way to go.'
Michael COXON (AUS), sailing mid-sheet with PLANTE, seventh after today's race, commented, 'Jud is a great competitor, I think he is the best Etchells sailor I have ever sailed against and we'll all love to see him win. He's sailing very well at the moment. On our boat, if we are going to a different way too Jud we need to ask what we are doing.'
BEADSWORTH reflected, 'Our confidence and timing on the starts and some space to leeward on the starts is helping us and we had a good race. At the bottom mark against Jud. We made our own decision; we went to the wrong mark, had a less than perfect drop and then had gas all the way up to the finish. Still, we are very pleased with our position in the field. Every point counts, its going to be an interesting week.'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.