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30 September 2005, 01:02 pm
The last race will decide Sonar World Champion
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Sonar World Championship 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

The penultimate day of the 2005 Sonar World Championship delivered superb sailing and fascinating results, which left everything to play for in Friday's final race.
After a day of topsy-turvy racing in which the lead changed dramatically in the second race of the day, the current World Champion, American Steve SHEPSTONE, leads the local team aboard Billy by six points with Pete GALLOWAY another two points adrift in third.

In fact, Americans fill five of the top six slots with Julia and Graham BAILEY'S We're Here the next best British boat in seventh, after a win in the final race of the day.

The day started with a brisk north-westerly of about 15-18 knots and a good start line with a small amount of starboard bias. The right proved to be the favoured way up the first beat and at the first mark it was SHEPSTONE'S Nefarious that held the lead ahead of Dave

FRANZEL (on a comeback after posting two eighth places on Wednesday) and Pete GALLOWAY in third.

In superb conditions of sunshine and breeze the fleet sped around the course with SHEPSTONE leading all the way. Behind them there was some place changes, the most spectacular of which was Billy's recovery from sixteenth at the first mark to sixth at the finish behind five American boats.

The second race saw the breeze diminishing slightly but shifting considerably. Once again, it was an American who was first to the windward mark but this time it was GALLOWAY ahead of John ROBERTSON with SHEPSTONE in third. At this stage FRANZEL was eighth on the water but unaware that he had been called OCS. Billy was again in a terrible position, rounding the first mark in eighteenth, just behind the BAILEY'S We're Here.

Down the run, the fleet split across the course looking for shifts and better pressure. Sure enough, the elements delivered with a roll of the dice and by the leeward mark SHEPSTONE had taken the lead ahead of GALLOWAY and ROBERTSON with We're Here making a miraculous recovery to round fourth, with Billy climbing to eighth.

Up the second beat and the wind swung first right, then oscillated back and those on the right side of the shifts made huge gains. At the windward mark We're Here had taken the lead and was the length of the spreader leg ahead of the next boat, which proved to be Greg ANTHONY'S Troll which had leapt up the fleet from fourteenth at the leeward mark. John MCINTOSH'S Echo rounded third with Billy now up to fourth.

Down to the leeward mark again and the fleet followed We're Here but Billy climbed to third behind Andy CASSELL'S Jenny and ahead of SHEPSTONE.

We're Here held her lead to the finish although the fleet closed her down, and Billy again improved, crossing the line in second for the first British one-two of the series.

With one race remaining, Billy is now six points behind SHEPSTONE'S Nefarious and two points ahead of GALLOWAY'S Fast Forward. After his OCS in the day's second race FRANZEL is still in fourth but nine points adrift of GALLOWAY.

Although SHEPSTONE has been remarkably consistent since the second race, his OCS in the first race still leaves Nefarious vulnerable to Billy trying to sail them down the fleet, although BOWEN and the team aboard Billy also have to fend off GALLOWAY who is only two points behind.

Steve Sleight
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