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7 November 2002, 12:20 pm
Good Day for the Aussies in Challenging Conditions
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Etchells World Championship

Rain and strong wind was the forecast for Day 3 of the 2002 Waiwera Infinity Water Etchell World's in Auckland New Zealand.
Instead brilliant sunshine and a 16-18 knot breeze, which built to 25 knots by the end of the second race, produced superb racing conditions.

The morning race saw series leader and current World Etchells Champion, Britain's Stuart Childerley make it tough for his competitors with another win.

After the start in race 4 three quarters of the fleet had taken the left side of the track and during the 40 minute beat the wind edged up to 18 knots.

John Bertrand's Two Saints and a Magpie was the first boat to hoist a spinnaker. The famous America's Cup helmsman led fellow Australian Peter McNeill from Stuart Childerley. The 2000 Champion Cameron Miles was 5th and the American warrior Dennis Conner 10th.

The first spinnaker run saw Childerley take the lead. Bertrand was second ahead of McNeil with Miles in 4th. Conner was 11th and Mark Bradford's Racer X was placed 16th.

The second run saw Childerley win from John Bertrand. Nick Rogers from Hobart was third ahead of Peter McNeil, followed by Cameron Miles. Mark Bradford's Racer X, second placed in the series, climbed to 11th place.

With strengthening winds expected this afternoon race organisers were keen to start the racing again as soon as possible. Race 5 started in 7-18 knots southwest breeze but within minutes it swung right, initiating a course change from the organisers. It flicked back left as the leaders approached the mark.

Prada's Kiwi helmsman Gavin Brady, racing as Prada Syndicate, had the jump on the fleet, Dragon Lady skippered by West Australia's Bill Steele was second and Auckland's Gray Gibson third.

For the first time in the series Stuart Childerley leading with a dominant 2, 2, 1, 1 record, was back in the fleet.
Gusts of 25 knots hit the leaders as they tacked on the starboard layline on the second beat, with a five-minute average of 21.7.

By the second top mark Australia's Mark Bradford was 8th ahead of Childerley in 10th position.

Down through the gate in this five-leg race Brady had a 200 metre lead on West Australian Bill Steele's Dragon Lady with local Kiwi Gray Gibson a boat length back. A 100-metre gap saw Aucklander Brian Jones' Irish Crystal, followed by Grant Turnbull's The Old Hag in fourth position.

The leaders remained unchanged up the final beat to the finish with Mark Bradford steering Racer X into 5th (to hold onto second place in the series) behind Childerley who finished in 9th spot.

After getting the winners gun Gavin Brady was not too pleased to hear race organisers felt that he had jumped the start gun. He was adjudged OCS at the start and so subject to protest his race was in vain. His series scores of 49, 59, 3, 13 and OCS are not to his liking.

In the same race Stars and Stripe's Dennis Conner sailing Kiwi Menace III, naturally nicked named Dennis the Menace, was charging into a mark late in the same race when he drove the bow of his Etchell hard into the stern of third placed boat Irish Crystal steered by Aucklander Brian Jones. The compulsory 720 penalty dropped Dennis back down to 20th place.

Principal Race officer John Parish summed up the days racing, 'It was very shifty all day. In the second race we started with a course heading of 245, changed the course with a 270 and then re-altered to 250 for the final beat.
With those conditions, it looked to us that it was not a day to hit the lay lines, the boats that did best seemed to stay mid-course.'

Childerley is a tough campaigner and he is beginning to look just too consistent for anyone to catch him. Bradford is fighting hard and has a solid buffer to John Bertrand and Peter McNeil.

If the series goes to six races or beyond the drop comes in. Bradford will throw out 14, while Bertrand and McNeil will toss their 17 and 16 respectively. Four more races can however give anyone the time and opportunity to blow up.
It is a class fleet full of very familiar yachting names. Conner is seventh, Iain Murray eleventh, Michael Coxon fourteenth and back further in the fleet is Grant Wharrington, Gavin Brady, Charles St Clair Brown and Sir James Hardy.

New Zealand Etchell's President Doug Read, is confident the weather will co-operate for a full nine race series.
He commented, 'So far the forecasts we've been getting have been boringly accurate. 'Clouds' Badham Team New Zealand forecast for the race course indicates 14-22's Friday and 10-16's Saturday.'

Top Ten Results (After 5 Races)

Position Helm Nation R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Total
1 Stuart Childerley GBR 2 2 1 1 9 15
2 Mark Bradford AUS 1 1 14 11 5 32
3 John Bertrand AUS 17 7 12 2 16 54
4 Peter McNeill AUS 8 17 16 4 13 73
5 Cameron Miles AUS 26 8 4 5 30 73
6 Nick Rogers AUS 21 4 8 3 38 74
7 Dennis Conner USA 10 9 41 8 20 88
8 Lindsay Kennedy NZL 23 6 35 6 41 111
9 Julian Plante AUS 16 30 21 39 10 116
10 Lucas Down AUS 18 31 34 12 21 116

Rob Kothe, Sail World/ISAF News Editor
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