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5 November 2006, 11:19 am
Red Hot Fleet
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Audi Etchells World Championship 2006
Fremantle, Australia

The Etchells One Design class attracts some of the world's best sailors, and the upcoming 2006 Audi Etchells Worlds in Fremantle, Western Australia is no exception. The event will be sailed from 17-25 November, and it has attracted 'a red hot fleet' according to Etchells sailor John BERTRAND (AUS).
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BERTRAND, who skippered Australia II to that famous victory in 1983, loves sailing in Fremantle, sailing there last month and coming fourth in the warm up Syd Corser Cup. He will also be on the water for the Slam Etchells Nationals from 10-12 November ahead of the World Championship.

With summer coming fast in the west, inland day temperatures are often well in the 30s. Around 12:00 each day Western Australia's legendary 'Fremantle Doctor' begins to cycle and the cooling, south westerly sea breeze builds most afternoons.

All Action

These are great sailing conditions but BERTRAND, who turns 60 next month, warns the regatta will take its toll. 'This regatta will be a fitness test as much as anything else. We could easily see 25 knots by 15:00 each day and it's going to be all action.'

'Generally the breeze by mid-November will be very steady. That being said, in 1987 for the Fremantle America's Cup defence [when another Etchells sailor, Dennis CONNER (USA) won back the 'Auld Mug'], it blew and blew. A year later, in exactly the same week, it was calm - so anything can happen.'

'The one thing we can be sure of though, it's that it's going to be a very tough World Championship. This fleet is red hot. Stuart CHILDERLEY, the British dual World Champion, is a consistent winner when it blows. American Jud SMITH, who just missed winning the World Championship last year in San Francisco in strong conditions, has recently won his third North American titles again in plenty of wind.'

'We Australians love the breeze. Rob BROWN, the current Audi Australian champion, was third in the Syd Corser ahead of us. Cameron MILES, who won in 1999, is amazingly consistent, on the podium in his last four cracks at winning.'

'Mark BRADFORD, who is sailing an America's Cup campaign with BMW ORACLE, was second in another windy regatta in Auckland. Mark BULKA, from Victoria, who won the Syd Corser regatta is another contender while Michael MANFORD, who came second, is a local entirely at home when it blows.'

15 Likely Winners

'There are probably 15 crews that can win this event and we will certainly all be giving it our best shot.'

Around 50 boats will be sailing in the final pre-world regatta, the 2006 Slam Etchells Nationals, on 10-12 November.

At least 70 boats will contest the Worlds with crews from Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, North America, Bermuda, Hong Kong and New Zealand fighting the strong Australian contingent.

Both events will be sailed between Cockburn Sound in the south and Gage Roads to the north, a superb stretch of water just off the Port of Fremantle, sheltered by the outlaying Carnac and Garden Islands.

The Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (RFBYC) and the Royal Perth Yacht Club (RPYC) are the host clubs, with the Fremantle Sailing Club providing the venue.

Slam Advanced Technology Sportswear is sponsoring the Slam Etchells Australian titles.

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, John BERTRAND is one of the star attractions of the Worlds:© Jeff Crow, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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