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by Peter Campbell on 8 Feb 2001
America's Cup winning skipper John Bertrand and Sydney 2000 Olympian Neville Wittey head a star-studded fleet lining up for the 2001 New South Wales State Championship for the International Etchells keelboat class this weekend.

The seven race series will be sailed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Lake Macquarie with the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club expecting up to 47 Etchells from all New South Wales fleets, Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand. .

At least 17 boats will represent the Sydney fleet, joining seven local Lake Macquarie fleet boats, seven from Pittwater, five from Botany Bay, three from Gosford plus the interstate and overseas entries.

Neville Wittey, who represented Australia in the Soling class at the Sydney Olympics, will be seeking a hat-trick of wins in the Etchells NSW Championship, having won the title the two previous seasons as part of his Olympic preparation.

His crew on Yandoo XI will include another Olympian, David Giles, who sailed with Colin Beashel in the Star class at the Sydney Games; he is also a widely experienced Etchells sailor.

Wittey, a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, took his boat to Lake Macquarie two weeks ago, sailing with the local fleet in a careful preparation for the NSW State Championship.

John Bertrand, now living back in Melbourne, is bringing his boat, Two Saints and a Magpie, up for the series along with three other Victorian boats.

Bertrand returned to Australian racing with a third overall in the Australian Championship sailed on the River Derwent at Hobart in January. He is also a former NSW champion.

Other strong confenders will be Lake Macquarie-based sailmaker and former State champion Peter McNeill, 2000 Australian champion Jan Scholten, and Michael Coxon, also a former State champion.

Lake Macquarie Yacht Club will conduct three races tomorrow, three on Saturday with the final race on Sunday morning.

Further information: Peter Campbell - 0419 385 028 or email -

America's Cup winning skipper John Bertrand and Sydney 2000 Olympian Neville Wittey head a star-studded fleet lining up for the 2001 New South Wales State Championship for the International Etchells keelboat class this weekend.

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