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13 January 2003, 02:32 pm
Bertrand Takes Title
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Australian Etchells National Championship
Mooloolaba YC, Queensland

The prestigious Australian Etchells championship trophy will spend the next 12 months in John Bertrand's trophy room after he skilfully helmed the Victorian sloop Two Saints & A Magpie to victory over a windy Mooloolaba Yacht Club course yesterday.

Bertrand, a Bronze Medallist in Olympic Finn class sailing and the only Australian helmsman to win the Americas Cup displayed his exceptional one-design sailing skills over six evenly contested races to win the series with a brilliant win in the final race.

He is a crafty tactician and possesses the required skills to ensure he has his sloop in the right place to sail in uncontested space.

But Bertrand is far from being a one-man success story as he always values the need of being in a good team and his sail handlers Ernie Lawrence and Bill Browne provided the necessary energy and flawless sail handling for their skipper to prove his renowned talent.

This was the case after Two Saints & A Magpie became deadlocked in a title battle with the younger New South Wales helmsman Julian Plante in Harken Evisha as both crews sailed onto the course for the final two races.

Each crew had lost 14 penalty points after four races and this set the stage for a boat on boat match race.

As expected the race between the two proved to be a classic one-design class race however they had no answer when Mark Bradford from Queensland won an equally interesting 'mate against mate' match race to win the heat over defending champion Noel Drennan and Hong Kong skipper Jamie McWilliam.

Drennan valued his second placing to lead the series into the final race with his best four races of 6-3-1-2 (12pts) compared with Bertrand 1-4-5-4 (14pts) and Plante 3-1-8-2 (14pts).

All three crews naturally absorbed the personal pressure when the final race started with another tough physical slog against a gusty breeze and building white-capped ocean swell.

However it was the master tactician Bertrand who again capitalised on the crew skills of Lawrence and Brown to enable Two Saints & A Magpie to dictate the terms in boat speed to win the heat ahead of Queensland skipper David Rose and Jamie McWilliam in Kaos.

More importantly the race win the second for Bertrand in the series gave Two Saints & A Magpie the National crown by two points over Noel Drennan with Plante salvaging the bronze medal on count back after he and McWilliam finished with identical 25 point scores.

Top Ten (After 6 Races/1 Discard)
Position Skipper, Crew R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total
1 John Bertrand, Ernie Lawrence, Bill Browne 1 4 5 4 10 1 15
2 Noel Drennan, Peter Ahern, Graham Taylor 6 DSQ 3 1 2 5 17
3 Julian Plante, Nick Garland, Greg Barber, David Stevens 3 1 8 2 11 16 25
4 Jamie McWilliam, Patrick Pender, Mark Parker 2 10 6 8 6 3 25
5 Peter Conde, Stephen Girdis, Richard Machin 5 8 1 7 7 DNF 28
6 Cameron Miles, Chris Links, David Sampson 4 9 9 3 12 6 31
7 Mark Bradford, Vaughan Prentice, Gary Adshead 19 2 10 9 1 12 34
8 Ian Johnson, Gary Smith, Tim Ede 7 3 15 15 13 4 42
9 David Rose, Shannon Hart, Peter Hunn 24 32 12 6 5 2 49
10 Peter McNeill, Paul Turner, Wade Morgan 10 7 22 12 3 22 54

Ian Grant/ISAF News Editor
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