A bewildering time for competitors in the 2004 Etchells Worlds, being sailed off Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, with judgments flying from the International Jury, looking likely to have a major effect on the Championship results.
Yesterday, the series leader Peter McNeill from Lake Macquarie on the NSW Central Coast was two points ahead of former World Champion Cameron Miles from Sydney’s Pittwater who had successfully fought the previous night to have an OCS decision overturned.
Yesterday conditions were difficult, tt was a light and shifty day, after the start of Race seven, the fleet leaders were about half way down the first spinnaker leg on Course 1 with Pittwater’s Rob Brown just ahead of Mr. America’s Cup Denis Conner. With them was first race winner Michael Coxon.
Then came a 45-degree wind shift and Principal Race officer Arthur Hodges abandoned the race. Not popular as you can imagine with those three leading crews and others doing well. Very pleasing for John Bertrand could retain his 11th on the overall pointscore, after discovered he he’d been adjudged OCS in the now abandoned race.
Now the new course was Course 2. However the shifts continued, causing further delays. Then there was another general recall. In the depths of the Australian winter the sun set at 17:22. Etchells Championship rules require a Course 2 start at least four hours before sunset, certainly no later than 13:22.
The start gun fired just on 13:25, according to the denizens on the Media Boat.
At the finish its was Brisbane sail maker Mark Bradford leading John Savage with Julian Plante taking third place, to move into fourth overall, with Dennis Conner sailing his Menace into fourth place. This result placed Conner third overall.
The two leaders had been buried in the fleet and sailed their drops. The sailors were soon ashore looking at the implications of the results.
But then the rumblings started, there was a lot at stake and the official protest forms started rolling in.
International Jury Chairman Ronnie McCracken from Hong Kong confirmed at 20:05 last night that the Request for Redress to the International Jury was denied. The jury adjudged that the decision to abandon the first attempt at running race seven was in accordance with Rule 30.3.
However Race Seven had been declared invalid under Etchells Championship rules because of the out of time start. He was unable to provide further details as other protest hearings were scheduled.
This morning, the same Jury re-examined the issues. They decided that their previous decision was in error and Race Seven would stand.
The explanation, again announced by Jury Chairman McCracken was that that his committee had erred in their previous judgment, because during the hearing last night, no boat demonstrated that the improper action of the Race organisers, in starting the Course 2 race, after the time limit resulted in their finishing place in race seven or the series being significantly altered through no fault of their own.
So now it’s back to yesterdays, post seven race situation.
1999 World Etchells champion Cameron Miles still has to out sail Peter McNeill to take his second Etchells World’s title.
Racing is expected to get underway at 10.00am this morning.
Let's hope it’s Gunfight at OK Corral time, hopefully without the need for another long night for the International Jury.
Cameron Miles and his Pacesetter team need to strike a mortal blow, while the Tom Pepper crew only needs to wound their rivals to win the war.
Provisional top ten results
1. P. McNeill 47
2. C. Miles 49
3. D. Conner 67
4. J. Plante 72
5. G. Collings 72
6. R. Bird 89
7. C. Pratt 94
8. L. Down 97
9. M. Bradford 97
10. G. Wharington 102