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Top-ten finish for Bermudian entry

Tim Patton competed with teenaged son Campbell, above, for the first time at the championship

Local entry Tiburon secured a top-ten finish and the Grandmasters Trophy at the Etchells World Championship that concluded on Saturday in San Francisco Bay.

Skipper Dirk Kneulman and crew Grant Simmer and Mark Strube finished eighth in the overall 51-boat fleet and won the Grandmasters Trophy awarded to a crew of three with a combined age of 150 or more.

The trio just missed out on the podium in the Senior Trophy division after placing fourth and were sixth in the Masters Trophy division. Kneulman is an Etchells boat builder and former world champion, while Simmer was the general manager of 35th America’s Cup defender Oracle Team USA.

Kneulman, who jointly owns Tiburon with Royal Bermuda Yacht Club skipper Mark Watson, sails out of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club but competed under the Bermuda flag as the team qualified for the championship competing in the local Etchells fleet.

Tiburon topped the leaderboard on day one after posting their only bullet of the regatta but gradually fell off the pace.

Steve Benjamin and crew of Dave Hughes, Ian Liberty and Michael Menninger on board Stella Blue won overall honours.

Olympic medal-winner, 505 World Champion and 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Benjamin also won the Senior and Masters trophies for a helm over 60 and 50 years of age.

Finishing right behind Tiburon was North American Etchells champion Scott Knaufman whose crew on board American Jane II included Bermudian Olympian Jesse Kirkland.

“We sailed a great race to end the series with a fourth but unfortunately Dirk’s team passed with a better finish,” said Kirkland, who served as the team’s tactician.

“Although disappointed with day one, we are happy to bounce back and improve throughout the event and hit our goal of top ten.”

Thrash, the remaining local entry in the racing fleet, helmed by multiple national Etchells champion Tim Patton, finished 44th.

Patton, who competed with teenaged son Campbell for the first time at the championship, finished 21st in the Senior Trophy division and 33rd in the Masters Trophy division.