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11 September 2005, 08:50 am
Tables Turned
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Etchells World Championship 2005
San Francisco, California, USA

Last day drama yesterday at the Etchells World Championship 2005, sailed on San Francisco Bay. The week finished the way it started, with a raft of OCS's, that turned the leader board on its head.
Overnight leader Judd SMITH plunged down the rankings with an OCS, whilst Tito GONZALES, his son Diego, Bill MAUK and Jeff LINTON, despite also posting an OCS, won the Championship.

Under picture-postcard sailing conditions, with blue skies and sunshine on San Francisco Bay and a light six knot southerly, Principal Race officer Eric ARENS gunned the fleet away for the seventh and last time.

Series leader Judd SMITH and second placed Tito GONZALES were two of seven boats over the line early, blowing their race, but neither they nor the other players were aware of the OCS situation.

Series second-placed Sam 'Shark' KAHN started fast on the pin about half a bow back from the boats up the line and led the fleet left. Further up the line series fourth and fifth placed Stewart CHILDERLEY and Iain MURRAY were working the middle

At the first mark Australian Rob BROWN came in from the left to lead from Shark KAHN and ahead of Hong Kong sailor Mark THORNBURROW. Gonzales was sixth while Judd SMITH was buried 16th.

Brown rounded at the bottom of the run, ahead of Kahn, with Russ SILVESTRI a fast third. Closing on the top of the second beat BROWN was first around, but SILVESTRI'S bow hit KAHN'S boat hard on the port stern, almost spinning his boat.

While SILVESTRI completed his two penalty turns, KAHN managed to round behind THORNBURROW. GONZALES was in frame while Iain MURRAY was lurking at sixth. Smith was still buried in the mid-teens and CHILDERLEY was well back in the bus.

Down the last run, the Shark closed a little on BROWN, but the margin at the bottom mark was still a comfortable 23 seconds. The major places were unchanged and further back in the pack Stewart CHILDERLEY peeled off the course and headed for home, having sailed his drop.

Up the final beat, the Shark bit into the Australian's lead, but BROWN received the gun ahead of KAHN and THORNBURROW. GONZALES finished next, ahead of MURRAY and SILVESTRI.

As SILVESTRI slowed after the finish, his boat went bow down as the gallons of water that had pumped in through the gash in his bow sluiced forwards.

Tito GONZALES, Bill MAUK, Jeff LINTON and Diego GONZALES were celebrating their on-water result after the finishing gun, unaware that they had already won the regatta four seconds after the start, despite their OCS, when Smith also went OCS.

Back dockside, the four times Lightning World Champion Tito GONZALES jaw dropped when he discovered the OCS situation. The frowns turned to a giant grin when he checked and rechecked the result sheet which confirmed his crew had won in spite of that.

'Can you believe that', he shouted to his 17 year old son and fellow crew, 'We were OCS but we still won.'

The 46 year old Chilean pig farmer from Santiago could not stop smling, 'Yesterday, we were happy to be in contention. To win is amazing.'

Co-owner of the boat Bill MAUK just kept shaking his head. 'Last August, we were all sailing together in the Lightning Worlds and I suggested to Tito that we should do the Etchells Worlds together. He said 'why not?'

So we bought a boat. In January we sailed it in the Jaguar Series in Miami, NOOD in Chicago, then the North American's.'

'We came here two weeks before this series started. We had a lot of help from Dennis Conner, who did a fabulous job bringing us up to speed, as did Vince Brun and the North Sails people.'

'Only one of us has sailed Etchells before. My son and I and Bill are totlally new to the Etchells. Jeff Linton, another past World Champion in the Lightning Class, is a veteran Etchells sailor, who campaigned in the 1970's and into the late 80's on boat number 5.'

'Its just a great feeling, you've gotta love this Class!'

For full results www.sfetchells.com/worlds

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image:© Chuck Lantz
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