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10 September 2005, 08:44 am
Tight At The Top
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Etchells World Championship 2005
San Francisco, California, USA

American sailor Judd SMITH has been near the top of the results board on many occasions in the Etchells Worlds over the last 20 years. Going into the second last race in the 2005 Etchells Worlds, sailed today on the Berkeley circle on San Francisco Bay, SMITH was leading by two points from 16 year old Sam 'Shark' KAHN, with Santiago sailor Tito GONZALES another four points back.
Yesterday it seemed SMITH'S worst nightmares were coming true when Gonzales won race six, with 'Shark' KAHN second across the line. Dockside KAHN and his Pegasus team were announced as OCS. Now SMITH is on 19 points, Gonzales 21 and Kahn 33.

Yesterday's racing was tough, with heavy overcast conditions and it became colder and wetter as the day progressed. On the start line the breeze was around 11 knots from 205 and built to 15 during the race.

Judd SMITH started about a third of the way up the line and 'Shark' KAHN just a little further to port. Tito GONZALES burst up the middle of the track to lead at the first mark from Canadian Hank LAMMENS, Jeff PAPE and KAHN.

Conditions were building on the run and on the second beat the boats on the left made good gains, especially Australian Steve O'ROURKE. At the top mark Gonzales was ahead of PAPE with KAHN next ahead, who had moved from 29th in one circulation.

At the gun, GONZALES crossed ahead of KAHN (OCS), so Jeff PAPE was second in front of Brian THOMAS and Craig HEALY.

The 46 year old Chilean pig farmer is enjoying his racing. 'We are sailing looser and we are gaining confidence. Everyone on the boat is doing well. Our goal for today was to be invited for the dinner tomorrow. We've done that.

'We've sailed lots of different boats, Solings, Snipes, J-24's but the Lightning has always been our first love. My brother and I won the Worlds in 1987 in Columbia and won in '95 in Finland, '99 in Ecuador and 2003 in Miami.

'We love the Etchells too. We sailed our first ever race, only in January, with the owner, Diego my son and a friend from Miami. We sailed some good races and some not so good in Chicago in the last few months. We came here 15 days before the championship, we practiced a lot with Dennis Conner, he has helped us a lot and we've been getting faster and faster. Now we understand the boat a lot better. Now we are looking forward to dinner.'

The most disappointed sailor dockside was 'Shark' KAHN, now third overall. 'We thought we were OK at the start, but we got more nervous as we sailed the course. An OCS makes it very hard from here.'

Stuart CHILDERLEY moved up into fourth place. 'We were deep at the top mark, we had a few good runs and then a good beat, but we went left on the final beat and missed out on the bend on the right near Angel Island. We've not done enough sailing recently and it shows, with the quality of this fleet.'

A lousy day for Iain MURRAY, he hit the mark and dropped 22 places during the race and now is fifth overall. 'Stuffed up the approach to the top mark, got in the jungle, hit the mark, went the wrong way down the run and the same up the next beat.'

The final race in the 2005 Etchells Worlds starts at 1200 hours Saturday 10, on the Berkeley Circle. It will decide if Judd SMITH is to finally grab the crown or if Tito GONZALES will 'bring home the bacon'.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image: © Carey Clausen
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