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9 December 2002, 01:04 pm
A Fabulous Day of Racing
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505 World Championship
Fremantle, WA

Following day one of the 505 World Championship in Fremantle, Ali Meller, 505 Class President, gives his thoughts on an epic first day of racing in the Fremantle Doctor.
If one was free to start a new religion, 505 sailors here would be very tempted to start with "There is but one God, and he is John Westell" (For those of you not already indoctrinated into 505 lore, John Westell designed the 505)

Today was an incredible day for racing a 505. Another warm sunny day in Fremantle, warm clear water with amazing shades of blue as the depth changes and the bottom shifts from sand to vegetation. We sailed on the more distant of the two race areas, which is to the south, near Fish Rocks. After a long delay, the Fremantle Doctor arrived, the breeze built quickly, the course was set, and we were in sequence.

"The breeze was a steady 20-22 knots," according to International 505 Class Secretary, Chris Thorne, who is serving on the Race Committee and was on the main boat. Competitors are near certain there were puffs higher than that, perhaps the mid 20 knots.

I really cannot say what the action was at the front of the fleet, we were not really in it for most of the race, so here is our story...

Pip and I gated early, to windward of Chris and Darren Nicholson (AUS). Simon Payne/Bill Masterman (GBR) and another boat were to windward of us and didn't have room to clear the gate launch. Simon/Bill were holed in the bow and forced to retire. Andy Beeckman/Ben Benjamin (USA) and Howard Hamlin/Mike Martin (AUS) were a few boats further to windward. We had a very good gate and were able to stay off the Nicholsons, holding our lane, as other teams fell back. Early on we were looking quite good, but Andy/Ben were going very fast and eventually rolled over the top of us, so we fell back. A little later Howard/Mike were getting close to our air, so we tacked to port. I think the right paid on the first beat, I'm not sure where we rounded. We were fully depowered; with all depower strings pulled all the way, the main twisted open and the board up quite a bit. It was great fun, and I think we were going very well, though our height was not great.

We jibe set for the run, hoisted the kite, and proceeded to fly over the Fremantle chop as the long luff spinnaker pulled us over the wave crests and down the face. JUST AWESOME!!!! The thing is, the 505 is such an incredible boat to be sailing or racing in these conditions. I have raced all kinds of dinghies and keelboats over the past 30 years and nothing comes close to this. Even with the long luff spinnakers, the steep chop and the 20-22 knots, the power is there, but it is controllable, at least if you have the boat setup near right. After a wild ride to the corner, we jibed to starboard and headed back to the rhumb line. We ended up a little high of the leeward mark, in part due to the wind dying off slightly near the leeward mark, and went for a jibe-douse maneuver without putting the pole out again. As you might guess, we put the spinnaker guy under the bow, so Pip had to fish it out, we rounded low of two other boats, and footed out (going as high as we could but still low of other boats) heading right. I'm not sure how long the legs were but it took a LOOONG time to get up the beats, despite the fact that we were all planing upwind fast. I think we did OK on this beat, though we did miss a shift early and may have lost some on that, and were probably too twisted in the main and too low for part of it.

We two-sailed high early in the first reach and then set, only to find that we actually had a little trouble getting down to the jibe mark as the breeze seemed a little lighter again. So it appears that the ten degree broader reaches are enough to carry the long luff spinnaker, even when we have 22 knots. The second reach was very fast, and up the next beat we worked more left and think we passed some boats. We jibe set again for the run and had another wild ride (this is SOOOOO MUCH FUN!), picked the perfect time to jibe and planed fast to the leeward mark. One beat to go, and we hang tough, pass a couple of boats and get across the line. WOW! I sure am glad it was only one race today! Whose idea was it to have some two race days at the worlds, anyway?

Want to know what actually happened in the race? I understand Dave Smithwhite/Neal Fulcher (GBR) won the race. Danny Thompson/Andy Zinn (USA) were second despite pulling the mainsheet swivel jammer off the boat at the first leeward mark. Danny briefly sheeted the main from the boom, and then remembered that Andy also races skiffs and handed him the mainsheet. Terry Scutcher/Christian Diebitsch (GBR) were third, Krister Bergstrom/Thomas Moss (SWE) finished fourth and Howard Hamlin/Mike Martin (USA) fifth.

Results after Race One

Nation Skipper/Crew Position
GBR Dave Smithwhite/Neil Fulcher 1
USA Dan Thompson/Andrew Zinn 2
GBR Terry Scutcher/Christian Diebitsch 3
SWE Krister Bergstrom/Thomas Moss 4
USA Howard Hamlin/Mike Martin 5
AUS Alexander Higgins/Paul Marsh 6
GBR Ian Barker/Daniel Cripps 7
USA Andrew Beeckman/Ben Benjamin 8
GBR Ian Pinnell/Steve Hunt 9
USA Tim Collins/Drew Buttner 10

Ali Meller
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