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9 January 2003, 10:15 am
Championship Down to the Wire
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B14 World Championship
Melbourne

With two races left to complete the B14 World Championship, the series has become a real nail-biting affair, with three Brits and an Aussie to fight it out for the Ashes.
Only four entrants can take the series - the Pommy brigade of Tim Fells/Dave Cunningham, Jono Pank/Shaun Barber Snatch and Matthew Searle/Richard Bell, or the local hero at McCrae Yacht Club, Guy 'Bangers' Bancroft and his 15 year old son, Rhys.

While sentimentality does not win a championship, the locals and the rest of the Aussie contingent would love to see Bangers and Rhys win the coveted trophy, but three obstacles stand in his way.

In shifty 12-knot breezes that veered from south to south-west, the pressure up and down, five boats haggled for the top positions in Heat 5 on the three-lap windward/leeward courses, including eventual winners, Matthew Searle/Richard Bell (GBR).

Searle/Bell sailed well to hold the lead for most of the race, with Simon Nelson/Andy Ramus (GBR) taking second place and Jono Pank/Shaun Barber(GBR) coming home third.

Locals, Guy 'Bangers' Bancroft and son Rhys (AUS), are having an ongoing battle with Tim Fells/Dave Cunningham (GBR), with Bancroft just touching out Fells for 4th spot.

It appears the Englishmen have settled in nicely now, featuring distinctly in the top places over the last couple of races, the Aussies will have to stay on their toes.

Also apparent, is that while Fells, Pank and Bancroft continue to hunt each other, Searle may quietly sneak past them.

Competitors in Heat 6 of the Championship got away in similar conditions to Heat 5, with a little more south in the breeze. A number of boats were deigned OCS, including third and fourth placegetters, Pank/Barber (GBR) and Nelson/Ramus (GBR), which could prove fatal for their series.

In this closely fought Championship, Fells/Cunningham (GBR) were the eventual winners from Bancroft/Bancroft (AUS) and Nils Joliffe/Jon Branch Ray Marine (GBR), with Searle/Branch (GBR) in fourth.

One race drop came into play after six races, with local favourites, 'Bangers' and Rhys Bancroft hanging tightly to their lead with 10 points.

Two more heats were sailed this afternoon in fluky 8-15 knot southerlies.

Top placings went to the U.K. in Heat 7, Pank/Barber 1st, with Searle/Bell second and Ewan Mclellan/Alex Matthews NA2 in third place. Fells/Cunningham finished second, but were OCS, with the Bancroft's breaking a rudder and also OCS, making the series even closer than before.

In Heat 8, Fells/Cunningham won by a mere 21 seconds from Searle/Bell with Paul Hansen/James Ellis Priority Powder Coating (AUS) finally finding their feet to come home third.

Bancroft finished that race in fourth, with Pank/Barber in sixth place.

Tomorrow is the final day of the Championship, with Race Officials at McCrae Y.C. looking to hold two races. It remains to be seen whether the English will win the World Championship for the fourth year in succession, or whether Bancroft can change history.

Top Ten Results (After 8 Races/2 Discards)

Pos Nation Helm Crew Total R8 R7 R6 R5 R4 R3 R2 R1
1 GBR Jono Pank Shaun Barber 13 -6 1 3 3 3 1 -9 2
2 GBR Tim Fells David Cunningham 14 1 31 1 -5 1 3 4 4
3 AUS Guy Bancroft Rhys Bancroft 14 4 31 2 4 -4 2 1 1
4 GBR Matthew Searle Richard Bell 17 2 2 5 1 2 5 -7 -7
5 GBR Nils Jolliffe Jon Branch 36 -13 8 4 6 10 6 2 -17
6 GBR Simon Nelson Andy Ramus 37 7 31 31 2 6 12 5 5
7 AUS Richard Reynolds Lissa Mcmillan 37 10 -12 6 -14 8 4 3 6
8 GBR Ewan McLellan Alex Matthews 42 -12 3 8 11 7 10 -16 3
9 AUS Peter Ray Gareth Wells 45 9 5 -19 8 5 8 -17 10
10 AUS Abby Parkes Sophie Hunt 47 8 -13 7 9 -14 9 6 8





Di Pearson/ISAF News Editor
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