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Etchells world champs

Kiwis eye up another crack at Etchells world title

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The celebrations kicked in soon after a New Zealand-flagged boat finished second at the Etchells world championships in Cowes recently but there was also a nagging feeling among the crew of what might have been.

Anatole Masfen, Simon Cooke and Canadian Dirk Kneulman finished six points behind the British combination skippered by Ante Razmilovic, with a disqualification in the sixth race of the nine-race series proving costly.

The Kiwi crew hit the buoy when rounding a mark, something they couldn't avoid due to the fact several boats tacked over even though they had buoy room. The jury upheld a protest against them, although new evidence has surfaced to show this was a controversial decision.

"That was really unfortunate because we were actually in the right," said Cooke, who was bowman and tactician for the regatta. "We were probably too nice and should have remembered that this was a world championships with a lot at stake.

"But that’s life and we’re very happy with second. It was a shame it didn’t quite work out for us because, when the stars align, you have to make sure you try to grab it and we didn’t quite do that."

The disqualification meant that, instead of going into the final day in the lead, they started conservatively to ensure they didn't pick up any further penalties.

The Etchells is one of the most hotly-contested classes with professional sailors littered throughout the fleet and previous winners of multiple world titles include Dennis Conner, John Bertrand and Iain Murray.

Kneulman, who was helming the New Zealand boat this time around, won it in 1998 and was also on board alongside Kiwis Andrew Wills and Tom Saunders when American Jud Smith took the title in 2006.

Masfen and Cooke have already set their sights on next year's Etchells world championships in Miami.

"The plan is to try to win the worlds for New Zealand and hopefully this is the start of something," Cooke said. "The guy who won has been doing it for 25 years and has had a lot of seconds and thirds so I said to Tole yesterday that we might not win the next one or the one after that but one worlds will roll our way again."

Razmilovic and his crew of Brian Hammersley and Noel Drennan were training partners for Masfen, Cooke and Kneulman and the two combinations spent a couple of weeks in the leadup to the event training together and were the only crews to consistently post top-10 results.

"We were really happy for Ante and it was great that it was a one-two for us," Cooke said. "Hopefully next time we will be the ones on top."

Results and standings from the Etchells world championships in Cowes recently:

1st: Swedish BLUE (GBR - Ante Razmilovic) (35) 6 7 4 2 4 1 4 10 - 38 points
2nd: New Order (NZL - Anatole Masfen) 13 10 1 2 1 (43 DSQ) 3 8 6 - 44 pts
3rd: Mila (GBR - Lawrie Smith) 6 13 2 3 15 8 6 (21) 1 - 54 pts

Full results