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Massey has the Light Touch – Hamlin Moves In

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Archie Massey and crew George Nurton heard two sounds that that made their day Wednesday.

At the start of the fourth race of the International 14 Class World Championship, Massey said, “We stayed around the committee boat so we knew right where the line was, and we actually heard them shout, ‘All clear!’ “—meaning that all 67 boats started properly, unlike Sunday when Massey finished first by two minutes but forfeited his runaway win because of a starting violation.

And at the end of Wednesday’s race, sailed in light winds similar to Sunday, they heard an even sweeter sound: the horn for the winner, which was painfully silent for the British sailors earlier.

Even better, Massey/Nurton and three others who fell victim to the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club race committee’s sharp-eyed judgment Sunday but have sailed well otherwise will discard their disastrous 72-point scores after Thursday’s fifth race. Those include Tina and Trevor Baylis of Santa Cruz, Calif., whose other finishes are 3-5-5; past champions Rob Greenhalgh of Britain (7-4-8) and Grant Geddes of Australia (3-11-9). Also, there is Britain’s Katie Nurton (2-19-4), who dropped out of race 2 with a foot injury.

But Massey expects they’ll need more help than that to overtake leaders Howard Hamlin and crew Euan McNicol, who finished second Wednesday.

“Oh, they’re going to win,” Massey said. “They haven’t been out of the top four in any races. We’re aiming for the top five.”

Hamlin/McNicol (1-4-2-2) stretched their lead to 11 points because their nearest rivals—Team Pegasus buddies Shark Kahn, the 17-year-old skipper, and Paul Allen—stumbled to 14th place following Tuesday’s impressive crash and recover victory, and they had to work their way back from 39th at the first mark to do that well.

“We had the worst start in the world,” Kahn said.

They are now third, two points behind Britain’s Michael Lennon and crew Jon Blackburn, who have been sailing a quietly consistent 4-8-3-5 regatta.

Following Monday’s 22 knots and Tuesday’s 15, the breeze started at 5 knots Wednesday and built to only 10 by the end of the 12-nautical mile race. The sea was relatively smooth so capsizing was minimal.

Massey/Nurton and Hamlin/McNicol started at opposite ends of the line and worked opposite sides of the course, which apparently made no difference.

“For a long time we didn’t look that good out there,” Hamlin said. “[Massey] came from the other corner and we rounded [the first windward mark] just ahead of him, but he likes the light stuff.”

Massey/Nurton finished about 30 seconds ahead of Hamlin/McNicol, with the Baylises another 10 seconds back just ahead of Lennon/Blackburn.

The sailors on top have been competitive in both conditions, light and heavy.

Trevor Baylis said, “It’s nice to hang with the flyweights and [also] go when it’s heavy. We just have to beat Howie.”

Racing continues daily through Saturday, starting at 2:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.

STANDINGS (71 boats; after 4 of 7 races):
1. Howard Hamlin/Euan McNicol, Long Beach, 1-4-2-2, 9 points.
2. Michael Lennon/Jon Blackburn, Great Britain, 4-8-3-5, 20. 3. Samuel (Shark) Kahn/Paul Allen, Aptos, Calif., 5-2-1-14, 22.
4. Lindsay Irwin/Andrew Penny, Australia, 9-1-9-11, 30.
5. Kris Bundy/Jamie Hanseler, Seattle, 3-25-7-6, 41.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 14th, 2006 at 9:38 am and is filed under Main Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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