Australian sailing legend John Bertrand and his crew Andrew Palfry and Tom Slingsby wrapped up the 2010 Etchells World Championship title in some style at Howth today (Saturday 28th) with his fifth bullet in eight races and without even needing to sail the final race of the series.
The Royal Brighton Yacht Club crew remained totally focused throughout the regatta and five firsts represented a stunning level of consistency at this level. Nearest rival Ante Razmilovic
suffered gear problems before the start of the first race of the final day which forced them ashore to effect repairs. Fortunately for them, there was a general recall which gave them time to reach the re-start on time but they had a poor race to finish mid-fleet. With Bertrand taking line honours again, it was all over for the Royal Hong Kong YC team.
For Bertrand, it is the fulfilment of a dream to win a world one-design championship to add to his Olympic bronze medal of 1976 and his famous America's Cup triumph 27 years ago. He practised on the race track for weeks before the event and his attention to detail was phenomenal, so the eventual outcome was the result of exceptional planning allied to technique, tactics and sheer sailing skill by the Aussie trio. Crewman Tom Slingsby
(AUS) had to forego the prize-giving dinner since he had to leave for the Laser Worlds at Hayling Island starting the next day.
In the morning race, Britain's Julia Bailey
enjoyed the first beat, leading Bertrand around the top mark in a fresh 20-knot+ northerly but the Australians' superior downwind speed quickly saw that advantage wiped out. Bailey lost several places on the next leg and eventually finished 9th. Bertrand continued to stretch his lead while others swapped positions over the next two legs, with second place going to a very happy Tim Patton
of Bermuda for his best result of the event.
(USA) (Eastern YC/NYYC) and Peter Duncan
(USA) (American YC) filled the next two places, with Smith the leading US entry in 7th overall going into the final race. Best of the Irish contingent was Howth's Laura Dillon on 'Lambay Rules' in 12th spot.
Irish eyes were smiling early and late in the final race, firstly with Jay Bourke of the Royal St.George YC heading the fleet around the windward mark followed closely by Duncan of the USA and Howth's Dan O'Grady in 6th. By the leeward gate, Smith had jumped from 7th to take the lead from Bourke, with O'Grady moving up another place. Smith held the lead to the finish, his win being the best score for a US team in an otherwise average week for American competitors.
By the next windward mark, O'Grady had 3rd spot and by the finish, he had secured second place to record the best Irish result of the week. It was also sufficient to move O'Grady, with crewmen Peter Reilly and Owen Meade, up to 15th to finish top Irish boat of the championship, one place ahead of the Burrows family.
The new World Champion John Edwin Bertrand
(AUS) described the event as 'a superbly organised championship'
and paid tribute to the Organising Committee chaired by Berchmans Gannon who was the first person to congratulate the Australians when they arrived back to the Howth marina.
See the provisional overall results here.