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10 January 2006, 12:19 pm
Aussie World Title Hope Revels In Pressure
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J/24 Australian Championship 2006
Melbourne, Australia

Australia's key hope for next week's J/24 World Championship, Sean KIRKJIAN, relishes the pressure of being one of the favourites to take out the coveted title.

'We accept that we're one of the favourites - we have to accept that. We've won the Nationals for the last two years and finished fourth at the Worlds in September,' KIRKJIAN said. 'We're probably better placed in that we travel overseas more than the other Australian crews,' he added.

And so far the Sydney based sailor's preparation for the world title remains on target after today moving into fourth place overall and leading Australian in Sail Melbourne's precursor event, the J/24 National Championship at Sandringham Yacht Club.

'We're really strong. There's a lot of experience out there in the crew. We are, I would guess, the oldest crew out there on the water.'

That crew includes sailmaker Ian MCDIARMID who was part of the winning J/24 World Championship crew in 1982 - something KIRKJIAN believes gives their boat Death Star the edge.

'Having won the Worlds before, he knows how to prepare the boat and the fact that he makes the sails and is able to make any adjustments along the way helps,' KIRKJIAN said.

The crew competed in this year's Sydney-Hobart race aboard Yendys, where they finished 14th, and tries to get in as much sailing as possible.

'It's the crew that makes the boat go faster. All I have to do is point it in the right direction.'

KIRKJIAN said he will not be following the lead of some crews who decided to opt out of yesterday's late race due to squally conditions.

'I would rather test everything now. If something is going to break, I would rather it break now and not next week!'

While KIRKJIAN is confident it will be an Australian boat that takes out the World title, he faces some tough competition from American skipper Mike INGHAM.

INGHAM has thoroughly researched Melbourne's January weather conditions for the past two years and is skippering a crew that has been together for the past 15 years.

Sailing Brain Cramp, the American is placed second overall after four races of the National Championship. Brazilian boat Bruschetta is also looking a strong contender, sitting third overall in the Nationals. Crew member Alex SALDANHA said they experienced perfect conditions on Port Phillip today.

'We did good. It was perfect wind, perfect waves. Everything went perfect.

'Our goal is the Worlds, but we don't want to do bad here [in the Nationals]. We will always be trying our best,' he said.

Death Star won race three today from Bruschetta and Brain Cramp, while race four went to Bruschetta from Siesta, with the Ben LAMB (AUS) skippered Kaotic third.

Overall, Siesta still leads, with Brain Cramp second and Bruschetta third.

Racing continues tomorrow.

For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.

Di PEARSON (As Amended by ISAF)
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