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10 January 2003, 12:06 pm
Sydney Skipper Steers Four to Victory
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Australian Etchells National Championship
Mooloolaba YC, Queensland

Lightweight Sydney Etchells skipper Julian Plante valued the four-crew option when he steered Harken-Evisha to an overall lead in the Australian Championship sailed off Queensland's Sunshine Coast today.
Plante, a winner of the Sun City Homes Australian Winter championship on the same course three years ago again proved that four relatively lightweight sailors do not restrict the chance of winning against the heavier three crew member option.

The composite weight of all four of the Harken-Evisha crew is well under the 295-kilogram maximum weight allowed for class racing. However what they marginally lose in hiking weight on the side is more than compensated with a well drilled sailing technique and the extra set of eyes allows them to produce a clever race strategy.

They were one of the crews who welcomed a change in the expected forecast after the South East trade wind hardly peaked above a constant 20 knots after almost blowing the stars off the National flag yesterday.

Today's first race contested in a moderating wind and sea proved to offer a supreme test of tactical sailing as the wind varied in velocity between 12 and 20 knots to provide a great battle of tactics before master helmsman John Bertrand steered Two Saints and A Magpie to another impressive win.

Bertrand aided by the long term Etchells sailing experience of his crew Ernie Lawrence and Bill Browne held the perfect cover on his nearest rival the Hong Kong skipper Jamie McWilliam in Kaos to win the heat over Kaos and Evisha. The same crew produced an amazing fight back in Race 2 after they appeared to be written off with a mid fleet placing at the end of the first windward leeward.

However the helming skills and selected tactics allowed the Two Saints and A Magpie crew to fight back into the boat race finally finishing with a deserved fourth behind heat and series leader Evisha while World title Silver Medallist Mark Bradford helmed Racer X into second with Ian Johnson Bananas in Pyjamas third.

Top Ten (After 2 Races)

Position Skipper R1 R2 Total
1 Julian Plante 3 1 4
2 John Bertrand 1 14 5
3 Ian Johnson 7 3 10
4 Jamie McWilliam 2 10 12
5 Cameron Miles 4 9 13
6 Peter Conde 5 8 13
7 Peter McNeill 10 7 17
8 Rod Jones 12 6 18
9 John Warlow 14 5 19
10 Mark Bradford 19 2 21

Ian Grant/ISAF News Editor
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