At the start of the Etchells World Championship 2012 on day 5 the fleet waited on the Manly Circle course off Sydney Heads, in brilliant sunshine, for the all important races seven and eight in the nine race Series.
Principal Race Officer Ross Wilson called a postponement at the scheduled 12 noon start time as the breeze was patchy across course.
Earlier on, the top mark had about two knots at 030, while the bottom mark had 050/055 at four knots, but as the AP went up, it had built to four knots at the top and six at the bottom marks
Wilson was expecting to see an in-fill at about 10 knots and was waiting for more consistency in the breeze angle.
In case you did not already know ‘sailing teaches you patience‘.
Finally the Attention flag went up at 12:45. The Committee set Course 2, axis 040, 1.8nm for first beat.
After waiting, sailors were impatient and the first start was a General Recall, the port pin appearing to be the problem. The next start was under a Black Flag and resulted in another General Recall.
The sailors were visibly anxious as the fleet finally got away.
Graeme Taylor (Magpie) looked to be boxed in mid line. Vince Brun (Menace) was right up at the port pin end. John Bertrand (Triad) was about ten up from port pin and well advanced.
Dirk van der Struyf (Animal House) coming from the starboard pin was amongst the best placed, Tom King (Iron Lotus) was back a little as was Jud Smith (Roulette), who started mid line at the port end, possibly a start he feared at this stage of the competition.
At the top mark the wind was about eight knots from 035 and it was still flat.
Bertrand came in from the left, leading David Clark (Fifteen) and Noel Drennan (Boat X), van der Struyf crossed behind Clark and Drennan. Smith was next, then King in the following bunch.
Down the run Bertrand was leading Clark, Drennan and Van der Struyf . Tom King was 13th, Smith was buried almost three minutes behind the leader in 24th place.
This Championship has closed right up!!
Coming to the bottom mark for the first time Bertrand was heading for the left hand buoy, behind him Clark, then Drennan. Mark Bulka (Perfect Balance) was close behind with Van der Struyf coming in from the left. Clark rounded second ahead of Van der Struyf, Drennan and Bulka.
Ante Razmilovic (Swedish Blue) rounded the right hand pin. Tom King gained a little on the run and was now 10th, a world of hurt for Jud Smith who was 24th, in the right hand procession. It got worse up the work, this is the new drop for Smith, it seemed he would need to pick up his 19th from yesterday's trash bin and dust it off as a 'keeper'.
Graeme Taylor was eighth and Tom King picked his way up the centre of the course from the right hand pin and was ninth but began to fall back.
Up at the front, Bertrand cleared out by eight to ten lengths on Dave Clark.
There is still only eight knots of breeze and in these conditions Tom Slingsby, Bertrand's red bearded tactician, is in his element. (Tom considers it bad luck to shave after the start of a regatta and is currently sporting two weeks growth.)
They were a minute 16 seconds in the lead at the top mark for the second time ahead of Clark, then Razmilovic, Graeme Taylor (Magpie) was fourth, King back in 12th.
Hold the phones. Jud Smith is back up to 17th, out on the left half way down the final run.
Bertrand finished some 350 metres ahead of Dave Clark, David Giles from Triad had finished his sandwiches before the second placed boat crossed the line.
Third was Razmilovic, then Bulka, Jean Claude Strong, Tom Braidwood, Taylor was ninth, King 16th, Smith 17th (an amazing recovery)
John Bertrand with Tom Slingsby and David Giles is the new championship leader, with two races to sail.