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McNeill and crew win Etchells World Championship

by Di Pearson on 9 Aug 2004
Paul Turner, Peter McNeill and Greg Torpy - winners are grinners © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
The story from Saturday afternoon...

Australia’s Peter McNeill and his crew of Paul Turner and Greg Torpy sailing Tom Pepper XVIII, this afternoon finished fourth in the final Race 8 of the ACE Etchells World Championship at Mooloolaba to win the World title fifteen points clear of their second placed long time rivals, Cameron Miles and crew from Pittwater and third placed Mornington, Victoria sailor Glenn Collings.

McNeill and Torpy, who both come from the NSW north coast town of Lake Macquarie and Turner, who lives just down the road in Gosford, were elated with their win this afternoon, McNeill saying he thought the fact that their bow number was 62 and that the three crew were born in 1962 had something to do with their win.

Recounting their final race today, McNeill said, ‘we started mid line and got a reasonable start. It was nothing special, a few boats crossed in front of us on the first beat, but we managed to climb up and made it third to the top mark and we knew we had to stay up there at all costs.

We maintained our speed and stayed in touch downwind and came home fourth. It was a really hard series this one. The shifts throughout were massive – unbelievably so. You really had to concentrate the whole time out here and pick the shifts right. It is probably the toughest Worlds I have been to in that regard. We are more used to consistent winds without those constant shifts.’

Earlier in the event, McNeill had told of his friendly rivalry with the second placed Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on Pittwater skipper Cameron Miles, whose crew at this event were Chris Links and David Sampson, not the two who were originally going to sail with Miles, in fact, Links joined them at the last minute. Both skippers used to sail from RPAYC until seven years ago when McNeill went to the Lake.

‘We have sailed against each other so often at State, National and World Etchells events and it’s nearly always a case of him beating me by one place or vice-versa. I am so glad it was us this time – this is the biggest win of my sailing career.’

Other results for McNeill include two Etchells NSW titles, a third and a fourth at Etchells World Championships in Pittwater and New Zealand respectively.

According to those in the know, McNeill has always been an exceptional Etchells sailor, but has in the past started well, only to go off the boil towards the end of regatta. ‘Yes,’ he agreed, ‘but I just didn’t want to come second or third again, so here we are and yes, we are very excited,’ he said. He also said the three were looking forward to defending their title in San Francisco next year, where ‘the breeze is stronger and more consistent – just to our liking,’ he said.

For both Turner and Torpy this win is a career highlight, although Torpy said his crewing for Colin Beashel at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the Star class also rated up there with today.

For second placed Cameron Miles there was disappointment, after coming so close and keeping McNeill honest throughout the regatta. Miles won the World title in 1999, finished second in 2001 and third in both 2002 and 2003 – an amazing record for this talented and versatile sailor who has notched up many wins in other classes including the Sydney 38 class.

Glenn Collings and his crew, Jake Gunther and Steve Young got the escape card to take third place after originally being scored an OCS, but reinstated by the Jury at the last hour.

Until 6.00pm this evening, the NSW team skippered by Julian Plante and his crew of owner, Geoff Bonouvrie, Nick Garland and Mat Day were announced as the third placegetters and are obviously very disappointed after first thinking they had missed out on third and then being told they were third, only to have it taken away late.

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