by Frank Quealy
Defending champions Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Nathan Ellis showed they are not prepared to surrender their crown without a fight when they brought Fiat home an easy winner of Race 3 in the SLAM-Winning Appliances J.J. Giltinan International Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
The trio recovered from a poor start to take out the race by 4mins 16secs from the series leader Gotta Love It 7, skippered by Seve Jarvin.
Third place went to the rookie crew of Panasonic, skippered by Jonathan Whitty, which finished a further 4mins 8secs back.
The consistent Asko Appliances (Hugh Stodart) was fourth, followed by New Zealand’s CT Sailbattens (Phil Airey) and Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris).
Despite today’s loss, Gotta Love It 7 still leads the point scores with a total of four points lost, followed by Asko Appliances on 11, today’s winner Fiat on 14, Omega Smeg (Trevor Barnabas) 19, CT Sailbattens 20 and Club Marine (Adam Beashel) on 22.
Due to the conditions, the starter elected to send the fleet over the #6 course (four laps) in a fickle breeze.
After an even start, most of the fleet led by Macquarie Real Estate (Micah Lane), stayed on a starboard tack towards Bradleys Head.
Macquarie tacked back to the middle and crossed ahead of Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster) but subsequently went behind Gotta Love It 7, Asko and Panasonic who had stayed longer on the original tack.
Asko went further to the right than 7, a move which enabled Stodart and his crew to grab a 5secs lead at the windward mark.
Delonghi (Simon Nearn) was third and TMF Group (Euan Mc Nicol) fourth.
Stodart decided to gybe immediately after rounding while Jarvin went to the RHS of the course – a move which saw Gotta Love It 7 take a 45secs lead from Asko at the twin bottom marks.
Sean Langman chose to spinnaker run down the middle of the course in Thurlow Fisher and rounded the mark in third place ahead of Macquarie Real Estate and Fiat, which was 1min 30secs behind 7.
In the trying conditions, selecting the best course back to the second windward mark was critical.
7 retained the lead but this time Fiat was the big improver as the defending champions came back into second place – less than 30secs behind Gotta Love It 7.
The fleet was scattered across the harbour as competitors tried everything to find some breeze. CT Sailbattens was now third, followed by Macquarie with Asko back in fifth place.
The 7 crew took the same downwind course as they did on the first lap while Fiat’s crew chose to gybe and go left. When they met Fiat crossed Gotta Love It 7 then led at the bottom mark as they turned to head back upwind.
The pair had put a gap in the fleet with CT Sailbattens still third, ahead of Asko, Macquarie, Panasonic and Rag & Famish.
Fiat pulled all the right moves on the third windward leg and went an incredible 2mins 45secs ahead of 7 at the Shark Island mark.
Other placings were being turned upside down as crews battled the fickle breeze.
Gotta Love It 7 reduced Fiat’s lead to 2mins 25secs at the end of lap three then 1min 50secs as they headed for home but it was all in vain as Fiat coasted home to a convincing win.
JJG Pointscore after Race 3 Page 1