Annapolis' Cutler leads by a point

'03 champ den Engelsman in 2nd entering last day of J/22 world title regatta

Sailing

May 21, 2004|By John Potter | John Potter,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After six races and three days of racing, Alec Cutler of Annapolis holds a one-point lead over reigning champion John den Engelsman of the Netherlands heading into the final day of racing in the J/22 World Championships in Annapolis.

Cutler has not won any of the six races sailed thus far in the championship regatta, but four top-five finishes contributing to his 22 points have him ahead of den Engelsman, who has one victory in the series.

Terry Flynn of Shoreacres, Texas, is 12 points back in third place, and Marylanders David Van Cleef, Scott Nixon, Matt Beck and Henry Filter and Kelson Elam of Rockwall, Texas, are bunched up behind Flynn.

"This is a world championship like no other I've seen," said Annapolis' John Bertrand, currently in 14th place. Bertrand is no stranger to world championships, having won three in a row from 1976 to 1978, the first two years in the Laser class and the last year in the Finn. He won yesterday's first race, but an early start penalty in the second race put him out of contention.

Also missing among the leaders is two-time J/22 World Champion and 1997 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Chris Larson of Annapolis. Larson, an America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran, is in 13th place.

Annapolis' Ray Wulff, the regatta chairman who is ordinarily high in the standings in J/22 competition, is in 15th place despite winning yesterday's second race. Rod Johnstone of Annapolis, who designed the J/22 in 1983 and who is a sentimental favorite in the regatta, is far back in the pack.

After no races were completed Wednesday because of insufficient wind, conditions yesterday on the Chesapeake turned surprisingly fresher with 10 to 15 knots of wind out of the southeast under a gray sky.

The first race began with the weather mark set at 130 degrees. The wind clocked and lessened during the race, necessitating a course change to 200 degrees. There it stayed for the final two races.

The 128-boat fleet was divided in half by a seeding committee for six preliminary races scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday's three races were completed in a wonderful southerly, but on Wednesday the wind shut down.

This is the 20th running of the J/22 Worlds. Boats from five nations - Canada, Italy, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands and Ireland - and 18 U.S. states are competing. Nearly half the fleet is from the Chesapeake region.

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