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16 August 2005, 10:19 am
ASHBY Puts Up Good F18 Defence
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Hog's Breath Race Week 2005
Airlie Beach, Australia

Glenn ASHBY and Andrew WILLIAMS sailing a Hobie Tiger are well on the way to successfully defending their Formula 18 title at Airlie Beach, Australia with two wins and a second place at Hog's Breath Race Week today.
With eight races away and two days remaining, the boy from Bendigo has a 16 point lead over his two nearest rivals who are also sailing Tigers. Mal GRAY and Matt HOMAN and Brad COLLETT and Lucas MCDONALD are tied for 25 points, with GRAY, the President of the F18 Association, second placed on countback.

A Capricorn, sailed by Daniel VAN KERCKHOF and Michael COOK, momentarily breaks the Tiger stranglehold in fourth place, but then it is two more Tigers.

Today's first race, race six, started in twelve knots, as the 25 strong fleet took off on a 1.2 mile windward/leeward course that had a little pin end bias. Winds strengthened and swung left. The fleet revelled in conditions that got breezier, eased off then came back again.

There was no catching ASHBY, the former F18 World Champion and defending Australian Champion, was fourth at the first windward mark, but had climbed to second after the first run. He led the fleet at the second windward mark and sailed away to win cleanly from COLLETT and MCDONALD with Donk, skippered by Russ MCDONALD third.

By race seven, the breeze had kicked in to 16 knots and in his enthusiasm to get away well, GRAY tried to take the pin with him, 'not once, but twice,' he laughed. 'It cost me dearly, we finished ninth, but we had great winds with only a little chop - perfect racing conditions, we all thoroughly enjoyed it,' GRAY said.

It was great viewing too and afforded great downwind rides for all. Hobie 18 World Champion, Brad SUMNER, with crew Chris WALLINGTON won that race from ASHBY, with a Capricorn sailed by Don DULL and Mark SYMONDS third.

By the time race eight came around, the wind had picked up to 18 knots with bullets which resulted in a couple of capsizes, including David ELLIOTT and Kelly SLATER on a Capricorn and once more ASHBY was too good, with COLLETT and MCDONALD giving chase to finish second and VAN KERCKHOF third - his earlier 5-5 results dropping him off the podium.

The F18 Australian Championship continues tomorrow with a further three races. North Sails weatherman, Kenn BATT, says the various fleets at Hog's Breath can look forward to more of the same conditions for the rest of their championship. 'Really? That's great,' said second placed GRAY.

Di Pearson. Image, Some of the bigger boats at the Hog's Breath Race Week:© Tropix Photography
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