The Australian 18 Footers League conducted the first championship race of the 2008-2009 Season when Race 1 of the Club Championship was contested on Sydney Harbour today.
Conditions were perfect for both competitors and spectators with a 12-15 knot NNE wind prevailing against a run out tide.
With current Giltinan champion Seve Jarvin missing through illness, five times Giltinan champion Trevor Barnabas was the stand-in skipper for the day on Gotta Love It 7.
Barnabas showed why he holds such an imposing record when he steered the skiff (along with 7s regular crewmen Sam Newton and Tom Clout) to an outstanding 1min 25secs win.
Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris), one of the few teams electing to carry the big #1 rig, finished second, with Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster) another 2mins 6secs back in third place.
The race to the first windward mark was extremely close as the fleet was spread wide across the harbour.
Simon Nearn’s Delonghi was always near the lead and reached the Beashel Buoy mark 10secs ahead of Gotta Love It 7, followed by Kinder Caring, Rag & Famish, Yandoo (John Winning), Active Air-2UE (Matthew Searle), Pure Blonde (James Francis) and Southern Cross Constructions (Euan Mc Nicol).
Rag’s bigger rig was decisive downwind as the skiff grabbed the lead from Gotta Love It 7 at the wing mark.
At the end of the first lap, Rag & Famish held a 15secs lead over Gotta Love It 7.
The pair had broken away from the rest of the fleet with third placed Kinder Caring almost one minute from the leader.
26-10-08 022 copy 1 - 18 footers League 1st Championship Race 2008
There was a great race going on for fourth place with Southern Cross just ahead of Pure Blonde, Yandoo, Delonghi and Fisher & Paykel.
On the second windward leg it was all Gotta Love It 7.
The team quickly wiped off Rag’s slender lead then raced away to hold a commanding 50secs lead at the Beashel Buoy.
From that point the result was never in doubt as Gotta Love It 7 increased this margin over the final four legs of the course.
Yandoo and Southern Cross Constructions showed improved form today and will be stronger challengers in the weeks to come.
Some of the young rookie teams showed enough form to suggest that they will also be closer in the near future.