On Day 4 of the 2011 Etchells World Championship regatta in San Diego, CA, one race was scheduled at the regular 1200 warning signal time. However the race didn't actually get started until 1241 thanks to three General Recalls.
For Race #7, Race Committee signaled a Course 1 (W-L-W-L-F), on a 260 axis with 2.4 mile legs. Wind speed was 12-14 knots.
Eager to gain the early edge, and appearing to see a perceived advantage in the center/left of the line, boats piled over the start line early near the center R/C start boat Corinthian for the first General Recall. Corinthian added some sag to the center of the line, but a second start attempt yeilded the same result. After a 10 minute pause, the R/C reset the line and changed the course to 255 at 2.3 miles. Again, the fleet pushed hard in the middle that resulted in a third General Recall. With one more adjustment to the center of the line, PRO Bill Stump raised the Black Flag for the fourth start attempt. Finally at 1241 the fourth start was good, with boats USA 966 Michael Laport, ITA 836 Marco Cimarosti, and USA 1283 Andrew Whittome over early, and thus disqualified from the race as a Black Flag Disqualification (of which they were officially notified by Bow # signal at the weather mark).
During the mayhem of the multiple starts, AUS 1389 had a collision tearing their port chainplate and required a tow back to SDYC by a coach boat. Hopefully repairs can be made and they can rejoin the regatta on Friday.
The course appeared to favor the boats that chose the left side on the initial upwind beat, and the beneficiaries were USA 1375 Argyle Campbell, FRA 1281 Frederic Laffitte, and AUS 1223 Chris Hampton, who rounded the weather mark first. Close behind were perennially competitive boats USA 666 Don Jesberg, USA 979 Bill Hardesty, AUS 1026 Noel Drennan, USA 969 Chris Busch, and USA 1227 Vince Brun.
The breeze shifted right for the second leg as the fleet ran back down the course towards the leeward gate. The Race Committee moved the course right to 265 and shortened just a little to 2.2 miles to avoid the San Diego ship channel. USA 1375 Argyle Campbell held the lead around every mark rounding, even extending the lead to approximately 25 seconds at the last leeward gate.
USA 666 Jesberg made up two positions to second, and 1060 Dennis Conner made up six spots to round in third. Around the right gate, 979 Hardesty made an inside pass of 1281 Laffitte to move up a spot. 1227 Brun held onto his position as the 10th or 11th rounder at each mark.
As the boats made their way upwind on the last leg of the race, the wind held steady at 10-12 knots with puffs filling to the right (275-280) on occasion. As they approached the finish line, USA 1375 Campbell who led the entire race including a 25 second lead at the last rounding and USA 666 Jesberg came from the left side, while USA 979 Hardesty came in from the right. It was a photo finish and for the fourth time in the series 979 Hardesty pulled out the victory. 666 Jesberg crossed second and 1375 Campbell finished third as their best finishes of the regatta to date. The next group of finishers were more from the top of the field and a few up and comers: 1281 Laffitte, 1026 Drennan, 1060 Conner, 969 Busch, 1223 Hampton, and 1227 Brun.
Aside from the clear dominance from 979's Bill Hardesty and crewmembers Steve Hunt, Mandi Markee, and Craig Leweck, the consistency shown by 666 Don Jesberg and crewmembers Scott Mason and Zarko Draganic has been impressive. After a slow start on Day 1, the Jesberg team finished the next 5 races in the Top 5 to move into fourth overall. USA 1227 Brun and AUS 1026 Drennan have also been very competitive with no recorded finish (throwout excluded) outside the Top 9 to hold second and third place overall respectively.
With two more single-race days ahead, the top 5 boats could all flip-flop positions so the competition will be fierce down the stretch. The same can be said for the next group, 6 - 10 overall who are close in total points as well. We are looking forward to a great finish.