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3 September 2002, 11:55 am
Conner Defends Etchells Title at Long Beach
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Etchells North American Championship
Long Beach, California

The event is the 2002 Etchells North American Championships starting tomorrow, but the entry list of 35 boats includes competitors from Europe and Asia and one who will soon be taking up temporary residence in New Zealand.
Dennis Conner, whose home is 100 miles south in San Diego, will defend the title he won last year at Holland, Mich., then will join his America's Cup team in the last weeks of preparation for the Louis Vuitton Cup challengers trials for the America's Cup. Conner won the World Championship in 1991 and 1994. He will be sailing, incidentally, in the same waters where his newest AC boat, USA 77, sank in 55 feet two months earlier. That boat was recovered the same day and is being repaired in Auckland.

Also competing will be Mark Thornburrow and Tim Parsons (HKG), Harald Orneberg (GBR), 1998 world champion Dirk Kneulman (CAN) and two-time North American champion Jud Smith (USA), who also finished second in two Etchells Worlds.

Seven races are scheduled on a choice of windward-leeward courses inside and outside the federal breakwater that defines the Long Beach outer harbour. A boat will discard its worst score after five races are sailed. A practice race was scheduled for today.

A high-pressure canopy over Long Beach has meant a late-summer heat wave and winds lighter than normal in recent days. But the forecast is for a low-pressure cell moving in, bringing the traditional sea breeze and perhaps even rain.
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