It's getting to the business end of the 2012 Etchells Worlds 2012 being sailed in the waters off Sydney Heads. Today the worst race drop comes into play.
Day 4 was a Sydney summer day right out of the brochure with a light north easter blowing and flats seas.
Principal Race officer Ross Wilson and his Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron team set a windward-leeward course on the offshore Manly Circle course, with a heading of 025 and a course 2nm from the start to the top mark, with the run about 1.5nm. The breeze was a north easter at eight knots.
There was a general recall for the first race of the day. The second start under Black Flag, was clear.
At the top mark for the first time David Clark (Fifteen) the winner of the Etchells Pre-Worlds last week, led from the series leader Tom King (Iron Lotus) and Vince Brun (Manace) with John Bertrand (Triad) fourth ahead of Peter McNeill (Iris III) and Jud Smith (Roulette). Then came Graeme Taylor (Magpie) and Noel 'Nitro' Drennan (Boat X).
At the bottom mark Clark was about three boat lengths ahead of Tom King and John Bertrand, both very close behind. Then came McNeill. Brun rounded on the right buoy all by himself. The wind was quite shifty so the Race Committe signalled a course change to 040.
At the top Mark for the second time Clark led, but King had taken some distance out of him. Next came Bertrand, Brun, McNeil, Smith, Taylor and then big gap to others. Drennan round in about 12th. The wind has increased to 10 knots and big swings in direction up to 15 degrees each way, were happening.
Race 5 finish (provisional) went to David Clark, second to Tom King, then John Bertrand, Vince Brun and Jud Smith who had slipped inside of McNeill. Next was Graeme Taylor.
At this stage it seems that King is starting to clear out from Smith, Taylor and Bertrand (after the drop comes in) and this group has begun to separate away from the rest of the championship contenders.
The fleet lined up for Race 6, yet another general recall and a Black Flagged restart.
The wind had lifted to a 12-14 knot north easterly seabreeze and the swell was up a little. The course heading was 030 and was 2.2nm to the top mark.
Smith was first at the top mark in race six after he had started in the middle of the right hand end of the line and had a clear lane all the way. He rounded a length ahead of David Clark, another length back to Matthew Chew ((Gen XY), then John Savage (Southern Light), Michael Manford (The Croc) and John Bertrand overlapping, the Mark Langford ((Critical Balance), Mark Richards (Are We There Yet?), Peter McNeill all together. A length further back came Cameron Miles (The Whole Way), Graeme Taylor, Jervis Tilly (Bushfire) then Tom King (Iron Lotus) in 12th - just 51 seconds off the lead.
Down the run Smith led Chew by 100 metres, ahead of Clark, Savage, Langford, Miles and Bertrand. Smith led the fleet to the finsh ahead of Chew and Clark, with some separation between them. Then came Mark Langford, John Savage and Michael Manford. Behind them John Bertrand was leading Cam Miles right to the line, but Miles put his bow up and shot the line, beating his rival by just 60cm.
'What a champagne day,' said PRO Ross Wilson on his way back to Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron after racing.
'It started at nine knots and topped at 15. It seems the fleet has discovered how to start. We had the starboard side break, when the port end was perfect then the reverse. In both cases the following starts under black flags were clean.
'It seems everyone has had enough practice now.'