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5 January 2010, 01:40 pm
Austin And Nicholson Star In Blasting Conditions At International 14 Worlds
Ben Austin and Peter Nicholson in action
Ben Austin and Peter Nicholson had a great day in strong wind conditions on Sydney Harbour

CST Composites International 14 World Championship 2009
Sydney, Australia

Sydney sailor Ben Austin and his crew Peter Nicholson had another hot race today in the CST Composites International 14 World Championship on Sydney Harbour.
Ben Austin and Peter Nicholson have been a bit of a dark horse combination at this regatta, showing blistering boatspeed at times and are shaping as a genuine threat. However, their effort was nearly blown apart after the race today when a rigging park incident saw Austin lucky to escape electrocution as his carbon mast touched overhead powerlines.

The electrical charge blew apart his rigging wires and tore a small hole into the mast about 2m down from its tip. Fortunately Austin, who was holding the boat at the time, escaped without injury but the incident required new rigging wires and an emergency overnight repair by CST Composites who happened to be on hand.

The action ashore was matched by the racing across the harbour as the northeaster kicked in at 20-25 knots with gusts to 30. The conditions were made more difficult with a strong ebb tide for much of the racing today and this caused difficult, confused and steep seas in The Sound.

Andy and Tom Partington of Great Britain secured a good win in race one of the day ahead of a fast finishing Victorian Lindsay Irwin and crew Andrew Perry. The Partingtons led from the front for most of the race in a classic display of fresh-wind boat handling. Also chasing the Partingtons hard were Austin and Nicholson who finished third.

Victorian Mark Krstic and his crew Andrew Wilson won race two today by a narrow margin from British sailors Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait with fellow countrymen Tom Heywood and Ed Clay in third.

Krstic said he and Wilson won the race because: "We got lucky."

In truth, they sailed a controlled and fast race with less mistakes and errors than most. This combination of boatspeed, tactics, a well tuned boat and good boat handling have helped to put them in the lead overall in the qualifying series.

While luck fell on some, it deserted others with Massey breaking a jib halyard and Greenhalgh breaking a spinnaker pole ... in both cases these skippers and their quality crews sorted out the mess and finished in 12th and 7th respectively.

The qualifying series continues tomorrow.

Results and more at www.i14worlds.com.

Neil Patchett
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