Sailing: Start costs Southworth

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The Independent Online
A disqualification from the second race yesterday was not what the J24 champion, Ian Southworth, had planned as part of his defence, but, then, the fleet is not best known for forming an orderly queue on the start line, writes Stuart Alexander.

Southworth, a Lancastrian who has been based on the south coast for some time, was one of 16 skippers, out of a fleet that totalled 43, given their marching orders by the race officer after a series of general recalls failed to produce the required discipline in the Henri Lloyd J24 national championship.

Even after the departure of 16, two more were sent packing for infringements at the subsequent start.

Although the national championship is important in its own right, it cannot avoid assuming the role of a warm-up for the World Championship which will also be staged on the same waters at Abersoch, north Wales, in the second week of next month. The pressure, especially from a strong contingent from the United States, is expected to be substantial.

David Ellis had won the opening race beating Southworth into second place with the former European champion, David Bedford, another second-race client for the early bath, finishing third.

In a steady eight-knot north-easterly wind, Ellis, whose boat is called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, had been showing everyone the way from the start gun until the last downwind turning mark, where Southworth, in Plastic Bag, had sneaked ahead.

Ellis responded as the fleet headed up the final beat to take the victory, Bedford's Jeriatric pipping the American, Chris Larson, into fourth place. But with his tormentor out of the way, Larson, at the helm of Writing Instruments, went on to win the second race from Simon Pender in Grouse and Ted McClean aboard Gossip. With Ellis finishing in fifth position, that also gave Larson the yellow jersey overnight.

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