Stuart Childerley, Simon Russell and Nick Pearson have won the Etchells worlds at Lymington

Stuart Childerley, Simon Russell and Nick Pearson are the 2001 World Champions of the Etchells class. They did more than was required in the final race of the Mako World Championship in Christchurch Bay today (September 1) to clinch the title, but their win was not without a certain amount of drama.

Childerley went into the sixth and final race with a fourth race disqualification for a premature start hanging over him and a fleet that seemed determined to keep the race committee waiting. There were two general recalls before the black flag appeared and then another before the fourth start was sufficiently clear for the race officer to let them go.

A total of 12 boats were disqualified for early starts. They included John Bertrand (AUS) who had been fifth overnight, and Dirk Kneulman (CAN) who sailed round the course in second place to a silence from the committee boat as he crossed the line.

Childerley was not to be drawn into this and without putting the championship at risk started in the second rank. It resulted in him rounding the first mark in 21st place. Out in front in the building south-westerly – the start was in 10-12 knots – Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen led the fleet to the weather mark, just ahead of Class Chairman, Tim Patton of Bermuda and two Australians, Grant Wharington and Cameron Miles.

Downwind, Miles treated the class to a sailing lesson, using the waves to promote planing and after the run was in the lead. Behind him came Kneulman, not knowing that his efforts were all in vain, and Wharington. Childerley was 15th as they started the second beat.

The breeze had built to 18 knots and veered slightly, but Miles was a clear leader as the boats turned downwind for a second time with Childerley up to ninth. He gained another place on the run. Making good ground in front of him was another British sailor, Barry Parkin, who moved from ninth after one round to fifth by the end of the second beat.

Miles was uncatchable and when he finished, it was more than a minute before the next legitimate finisher (Kneulman was ignored), Wharrington. In third place, Parkin just held off Hoj-Jensen on the line with Nils Razmilovic fifth. It was then Childerley’s turn and his sixth place gave him the championship by seven points from the day’s race winner, Miles.