While San Francisco Bay is normally quite windy, early September is a transition period and could provide a mix of conditions. The winner will be the most consistent across a whole range of conditions. Judd SMITH, from Marblehead Massachusetts, is the current North American Etchells Champion and as an easy winner of the pre-Worlds, is certainly the favourite going into the Worlds. 'We seem to have good speed and we're enjoying our racing very much, so it could be our turn - but we've screwed up before and we can do it again,' he said.
This One Design fleet will be one of the best ever assembled and there will be plenty of international challenges. Stuart CHILDERLEY (GBR), World Champion in 2001 and 2002, is in good form and if conditions are strong, he could win again. Ante RAZMILOVIZ (GBR) knows the Bay well and has been on the pace in Europe, coming second behind his brother Nils at the recent Anglo Irish Bank Etchells European Championship in Howth, Ireland. In strong conditions, current World Champion, Australian Peter MCNEILL, sailing with Phil SMIDMORE and James MAYJOR could make it two in a row. Iain MURRAY and Andrew PALFREY, Australian Star campaigners were to be crewed by Michael COXON, but the Sydneysider, currently racing on the new super maxi Alfa Romeo at Hamilton Island, has been deferring a hernia operation. On medical advice, he is not racing for this year's title and his place will be taken by current Star North American Champion, George SZABO (USA), so this team could do well. San Diegan's Vince BRUN and Dennis CONNER, both former World Champions, continue with good form - although they prefer lighter conditions.
Team Pegasus with father Philippe and 15 year old son Samuel, a.k.a. Shark KAHN both mounting strong challenges are likely to feature in the leading group as well. In truth, the 2005 Championship winner could come from any of a dozen crews, making this one of the most open contests in many years. This weekend, the San Francisco Yacht Club is running its traditional Easom Founders Cup, having moved it to later in the season to host the Pre-Worlds event. Local, Russ SYLVESTRI, is certainly on the pace at the moment. He finished second behind SMITH at the Pre-Worlds and he has a big podium chance.
Last year, another local, Peter VESSELLA won, as he did in 2002, while Craig HEALY won in 2003.
However, this years Easom may not necessarily be a good guide for the Worlds, as some of the teams will still be experimenting with sails and rig set up.