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Thornburrow rules Etchells kingdom

Published on October 24th, 2018

Brisbane, Australia (October 24, 2018) – A morning breeze was a welcome sight for the third day of the 2018 Etchells World Championship, prompting the Race Committee to send the 94 boat fleet out to Moreton Bay for what would prove to be a two race day with some heroes and victims.

But starting the day with only two races in the bank, there would be no messing around on the start line. Today’s first start had Code Flag U, meaning there were no prisoners to be taken. For the second race, and after a General Recall, the dreaded Black Flag appeared. Unfortunately, both races claimed victims, with bar stools gaining patrons earlier than anticipated.

The first race was set on an axis of 020 degrees over a range of 2.4nm, and it was blowing a full ten knots. There was even a chance of an afternoon thunderstorm, which did actually roll through the Gold Coast to the South, but on the track it was hot and hard work. As per the last few days there was a tide running from South the North.

Unlike yesterday, starting left was favored, but you did want to cross back early, and not end up near the islands, for this put you well out of the game. Those that did as mentioned above, slaughtered those coming out from the right. There was much less breeze at the weather mark, as the clouds over the land reached up to the heavens. Good for building storms, not so flash for sailing, perhaps.

For the second race, which the Race Committee got away pretty smartly after the last boat was home from the first, the breeze had clocked right to maybe 030 degrees and was 10 knots when it wanted to be. During the set-up, 045 looked more like the go, and this was settled on as they got away just at 1500 in the afternoon on legs of 2.3nm. Some got to watch it unfold of course, as they headed home after having been pinged on the Black Flag.

If and when the discard occurs, which is after the seventh race, consistency is king and the ruler after four races is Mark Thornburrow and his team of Mike Huang, Alexander Conway, and Will Ryan on HKG 1406. As the only team with all top 10 scores, they leapfrogged over Australian Martin Hill’s Lisa Rose who held the top spot entering the day, but only fell to second.

In third place overall, and some seven points further adrift is GenXY – Matthew Chew, Brian Donovan, Ben Vercoe, Ashley Deeks. At one point GenXY seemed to have secured Race Three, but some clever gybing by Top 40 on the last run home (AUS 1332 – Peter Merrington, Ian McKillop and Michael Coxon), saw them grab the first win of the day.

They backed it up with a second in Race Four, and so sit in sixth place overall, this evening. “It was an unbelievable start to the day,” notes Merrington. “Ian and Michael did really well. We had good speed, got out to the left, and then they found some shifts for us, and before we knew it we were in the top three at the weather mark. The boat was flowing well, and our communication was also right on.”

As for that passing manoeuvre, Merrington just said, “Ian had done a superb job with the spinnaker trim, and we knew we could beat him to the gybe, which meant we could hold him off.” A second in Race Four was almost a carbon copy. “Yes, we were trying to repeat it all. It pretty much worked and we were just below the mid-line boat at the start. The pin was favoured, but we figured you were a one in four chance to get it right, so we went for something a touch more conservative.”

The 9-race World Championship, which needs 6 races to be official and provides a discard after race 7, will be held October 22-27.

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Day Three Results (Top 10 of 94; 4 races)

Editor’s note: The battle continues for the elite Aussie Olympic 470 team of Matt Belcher and Will Ryan as their squads now hold the top two spots. For the American skippers, while three of their teams fell out of the top 20, Jud Smith, Jay Cross, and Peter Duncan remain strong in the top 10.


Source: John Curnow

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