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Tight at the top in Bacardi regatta

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club skipper Mark Watson (File photograph)

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club helmsmen John Hele and Mark Watson are locked in a tight battle for supremacy in the Etchells class going into today’s final day of the Bacardi Keelboat Regatta on the Great Sound.

Hele and his crew on Renegade top the leaderboard in the seven-boat fleet on a tiebreak over nearest rival Watson and his Tiburon crew.

Eleven points off the lead pace in third is Tim Patton, who is fresh off competing at the Etchells World Championships last month in Brisbane, Australia, where he placed 52nd in the masters division and 75th in an overall fleet of 94 boats.

The regatta again serves as a qualifier for the local Etchells fleet for the world championships next year in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Defending champion Patrick Cooper, of Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, holds a three-point advantage at the top of the International One Design standings over Gibson Island Yacht Squadron’s Courtney Jenkins.

Cooper has been a model of consistency, winning the opening two races of the series and finishing second in the third to keep his title defence firmly on track.

In third, another point off the lead pace, is the Nova Scotia IOD fleet’s Evan Petley-Jones, who recently won the class honours at the Chester Race Week.

Yabsta (Trevor Boyce/Stewart Neff) are the overall leaders in the J105 fleet with Airforce (Peter Bromby/Chris Murphy) three points back in second and Passion (James MacDonald/Bill Lakenmacher) another two points adrift in third.

There are three titles up for grabs in the J105 class, which also consists of the Bermuda Series and International Series in which the local and overseas skippers alternate races.

Yabsta leads the Bermuda Series by a point over nearest rival Mayhem (Jon Corless/Jason Owen), with Airforce a point back in third.

The same team also tops the International Series by the same margin over second-placed Airforce, with Passion another point adrift in the third.

Sailors will be keen to get back out on the racecourse today, having been kept on shore yesterday after the race committee postponed racing because of high winds.