Two Aussies with a chance for Etchell Worlds, but need to push

Today marked the mid-point of the Etchells World Championships in Hong Kong, with three races already under the fleet’s collective belt. Some Australian's started to make a push for the lead.

The weather in Hong Kong played ball and put out 11 to 14kts of ENE breeze, which held pretty steady for most of the day, then tracked right and softened mid-afternoon.

Right on schedule, PRO Kevin Wilson sounded the warning signal for Race 4 having set the windward mark at 1.8nm. In contrast to day 2, only Magpie pushed the boundary to the point where they were over at the start, but then returned under X-ray to exonerate themselves. The fleet split evenly up the right and left of the course, with Frank van Kempen reaching the windward mark at the top of the fleet ahead of Jean-Claude Strong on Yandoo XX and Steve Benjamin on Scimitar. Van Kempen led around the starboard gate with Benjamin choosing the port gate in second and Argyle Campbell in third, but on the second beat, it was Strong who made the gains to round first and stay in control down the run to claim her first bullet of the series, with van Kempen in second and Benjamin in third.

After a brief hiatus to re-set the line and check that the breeze was still stable, Wilson started race 5 which for the first time featured a clean start for the entire fleet. Brendon Jukes led the first beat on Jukes of Hazzard but having chosen the port side of the run had fallen into third by the gate and lost further ground to finish 12th. The eventual race winner, Graeme Taylor gave a run down of Magpie’s race, saying “we had a good start and not a lot of tacks, we got on to the left and managed to keep clear, which makes it much easier to sail your own race rather than being dictated to by other boats.”

After 5 races, Magpie sits 7th overall, with second paced boat Gen XY in 6th. Matty Chew reflected “we had a very difficult race – we had a great start and were leading early, then we lost some places but we got them back on the second upwind, so all in all we had a good race!”

With a 9 and a 3 for the day, Noel Drennan’s Baby Doll sits 12th overall and in a general recap noted “we had a good day on the water today – it was good racing but shifty, so don’t book your tickets! There were plenty of opportunities to make up lost ground here and there. We seemed to be going into the top mark in similar company so when you do well, you’re rewarded and when you do badly, you’re punished.”

Skip Dieball’s Aretas remains first overall at the halfway stage, with a discard kicking in after the sixth race. Second placed Steve Benjamin was unperturbed, saying “I’m very happy we’re still in the running. They were very tricky conditions – we finished up 2nd in the first race but we didn’t sail that great in the second race. We went too far left and we had opportunities to get right which we should have taken, but didn’t. We paid the price and ended up 11th.”

The series features none races, with the discard kicking in after six. The PRO’s intention is to try and run two races tomorrow, so that the final two days can feature one long race per day with an upwind finish.

Race results after fiveout of 9 races

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