Hardesty Wins Etchells Worlds

New world champions were crowned in the Etchells class over the weekend, with the completion of racing on Lake Michigan out of Chicago Yacht Club. Here is a report from the race organizers:

Bill Hardesty, Erik Shampain, Steve Hunt, and Jennifer Wilson of San Diego, California take their first Etchells World Championship title after ending the regatta with a strong 12th place finish in race 6.

After dropping a 39 point finish from their score, the team secures first place overall with a total of 30 points and an 8-point margin. Hardesty was the pre-event favorite having won both the Midwinters East and West.

Chris Busch, Chad Hough, Chuck Sinks [his son Tyler is racing in the Youth Nationals through Tuesday on San Francisco Bay], and Peter Burton, also of San Diego, came in second with 38 points followed by Jud Smith, Henry Frazer, and James Porter with 41. After protest and redress hearings at the end of today, Peter Duncan moved from 16th to tie Beadsworth/Dwyer at 56 points for fourth. Duncan won with tie breaker with his 2nd place win in today’s race.

The sixth and final race of the regatta was run on Saturday in beautiful conditions with 10-20 knot westerly winds, waves, and warm sunny weather. Bush, Hough, Sinks, and Burton took the lead on the first downwind leg, and from there they proceeded to walk away from the fleet on every leg and capture first place by a substantial margin.

“We went right on the first beat while most of our competitors went left,” Busch explained. “We were pretty behind after a bad start at the right end of the line, but we found better velocity and some good shifts on our side and we were able to work our way back through the fleet. Once you’re out front, it’s a lot easier to stay there. It’s the races where you’re deep and have to fight your way back that really make the difference.

Busch, Hough, Sinks, and Burton take the role of the stealthy stars of the regatta. After a disappointing 49th finish on the first day, the team moved to 8th with a 2nd and a 4th on the second day of racing. They continued their climb up the score board with respectable finishes in races 4 and 5 which brought them up to 6th and then into the top three. With a decisive win today, the San Diego team ultimately captured 2nd place by three points from Smith, Frazer, and Porter.

Winners Hardesty, Shampain, Hunt and Wilson sailed an impressive regatta. “Our two firsts on the second day really helped. We’ve been training hard, and it paid off.” Hardesty said. With the exclusion of their 39 point drop race, the team never scored below 13th in the racing this week. On how the team managed to stay consistent in the tricky conditions Hardesty explained, “We sailed conservatively. Once we figured out what was working for us, we stuck with that strategy.”

Remarkably, with the exception of one drop race apiece, Hardesty, Busch, and Smith all posted top 20 finishes in the five races counting toward their final score. It is undoubtedly this impressive consistency, despite challenging conditions, that places these three boats on the Etchells Worlds podium this year.

The next Etchells World Championship will be held in March 2009 on Port Philip Bay, Melbourne with the host club being Royal Brighton Yacht Club. For a complete list of the final results log on to chicagoyachtclub.org.

Posted June 28 by KL

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