Racing in the 47th Etchells World Championships got underway in earnest this morning, with Principal Race Officer Kevin Wilson choosing to start racing on schedule, with the signal boat situated just off the north west of Ninepins.
43 Etchells started this year’s World Championships in 10 to 12kts of true northerly, on a flat 1.8nm course. Both Swiss entry No Dramas and Australian entry, Highlander, were over at the start, but returned and cleared the line.
After a 23 minute beat, Steve Benjamin’s Scimitar was the first of an evenly split fleet to reach the windward mark, ahead of Aretas, Phan and Jezebel.
With fishing boats and freighters adding a little local colour, the fleet continued to use the whole expanse of the race course on the first run, splitting equally around the port and starboard gate marks with Scimitar holding onto her position.
Helm of Aretas, Skip Dieball, finished in 2nd place, ruing a poor start and saying “it was very tight racing at the top end, with boats switching (places) all the time. The one who made the most gains was Marvin Beckmann, who was back in 8th at one point (but finished 5th)”
Winner Benjamin confirmed the switching places, noting that Scimitar’s “game plan was to go right as the wind would veer right based on the predictions we looked at – we were not in the big packs so we had clean air and we wanted to control the right, so we tacked on to port. We got around the first mark clear and were clear downwind – there was a lot of tacking up the second beat, which was very variable. We got passed by two boats on the left, but crossed them at the end of the beat and we were able to hold on to the downwind leg.”
With only five minutes between winner and tail end boat, it was a close finish, with Scimitar coming in ahead of Aretas, Jezebel, Gen XY and The Martian.
With a shifting and weakening breeze, after two AP’s and a general recall, Wilson finally called it a day and hoisted AP over A, stating his intention to shoe-horn two races into the Day 2 schedule, with the first warning signal sounding at 1100hrs.