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International Etchell NSW Championship

by Peter Campbell on 10 Feb 2001
Consistent sailing by Pittwater yachtsman Mark Richards, at the helm of Steam Packet, has placed him at the top of the leader board after the first day of sailing in the International Etchells keelboat class New South Wales State championship on Lake Macquarie, near Newcastle.

Richards steered Steam Packet to a first, a second and a sixth against the star-studded 40 boat fleet from NSW, Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand contesting the prestigious championship.

With nine points on his card, Richards is well clear of equal second placegetters Yandoo XX, skippered by Sydney 2000 Olympian and defending State champion Neville Wittey, and North Sydney Station, helmed by former State champion Michael Coxon.

Wittey, who is looking for a hat-trick of State championship wins in the Etchells class, Australia’s most popular one-design keelboat class, won the opening race in the 12-15 knot east-north-easterly seabreeze, but slipped to ninth in race two, recovering with a fourth in race three.

Coxon, a sometime America’s Cup and ocean racing yachtsman, placed 9-7-1, placing him equal second with Wittey on 14 points.

Close astern of them are Acclaim (Greg Cassidy, NSW) on 18 points from placings of 9-7-2, Doctor Evil (Jake Gunther, Vic) on 21 points (8-2-11) and local Lake Macquarie sailor Peter McNeill sailing Tom Pepper XVIII on 24 points after placings of 18-3-3.

John Bertrand, the Melbourne-based former America’s Cup winning skipper, had a mediocre day with a score of 10-10-21 to be 12th overall after the first day of racing in the championship that will continue tomorrow and on Sunday.

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