Thornburrow from Hong Kong takes out Queensland Etchells title

The leading contenders fought every mile in the remaining race to go one better on each other. Three teams went into today's racing on equal ten points; Vaughan Prentice, Noel Paterson and Mark Thornburrow.

Out of the day came a winning team from Hong Kong; Mark Thornburrow, Greg Farrell, Andy Service and Martin Mok. The team came all the way to Mooloolaba to win and that's just what they did. They finished the final race in third place which gave them a final pointscore of 11 points, just two ahead of Paterson and his crew of Sarah Board, James Chilman and Douglas Watson.

But it was the quiet achieving Mark Bradford who pushed out defending champion Prentice with a brilliant last race to deliver his second first place of the day. Overall this gave Bradford and his crew Brian Hillier, Andrew Gough and Olympic class coach, Adrian Finglas, 15 points, just one point ahead of Prentice.

The first race of the day got off on time in six to eight knots in a north-easterly. Unfortunately for 2004 Etchells World Champion, Peter McNeill, an aggressive start strategy saw his Absolute Pearler over the start line at the gun forcing them to tack away from the fleet before having to restart the race. In the light breeze this mistake on the start cost him valuable places. He found himself in eighth place at the gun. Race winner Hong Kong's Mark Thornburrow finished the race cleanly with Brisbane's Noel Paterson two boat lengths behind. Third was local skipper, Trevor Martin with his crew of Josh Torpy and Glenn Thomson. Brisbane's Vaughan Prentice, winner of the State Championship title in 2008, was unable to hold his winning form from yesterday's last race, coming in at fifth place.

Principle Race Officer Debbie Hauchildt quickly moved the 14-boat fleet into a second start utilising the steady breeze to ensure a clean start.

With a building breeze of 12 to 14 knots and no early starters at the gun, Brisbane's Mark Bradford finally found his form again finishing in first place with a comfortable three boat lead. Just behind him however was the battle of the day with Paterson keeping one eye on the course, one eye on Thornburrow and another eye on the breeze. Tack for tack Paterson covered Thornburrow throughout the race before finishing in second place ahead of Thornburrow.

Lining up on the start of the final race, full of nervous tension, Thornburrow and Paterson were on equal 14 points. At the completion of the race they both would be able to drop the worst result of the regatta. For Paterson this would be a fifth. For Thornburrow it would be his sixth in race three. The maths was done and Paterson knew he had to again do one or more places better than Thornburrow to win the regatta.

Prentice could not be forgotten by the leading teams as they worked out their final race strategy. While race day two was not to Prentice's liking, he was no doubt relying on Paterson and Thornburrow to be distracted by their battle, with Prentice possibly being able to slid in under them and take out the final race.

The breeze increased to 17 knots and the sea became more bumpy; both of which would affect the performance of the highly tuned yachts. The trick in this race was quickly adjusting the crew's sailing style to the much heavier breeze. Into the last mark before heading to the finish was a very determined Mark Bradford led Vaughan Prentice. Then it was Paterson, Thornburrow and Mooloolaba's David Turton.

True to the words of Prentice the final race was in the roll of the dice. While Prentice gallantly fought to move up the overall places, Bradford slipped into first place. Then there was the last gasp from Paterson as he unsuccessfully tried to fight off Thornburrow finally finishing the last race behind him in fourth place.

Tracey Johnstone 

Photograph by Peter Duncan,

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