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18ft Skiffs - R. Watt Memorial Trophy

by Frank Quealey on 9 Oct 2011
Three boats challenge for the lead - 18ft Skiffs: R. Watt Memorial Trophy Frank Quealey © /Australian 18 Footers League http://www.18footers.com.au

The opening race of the Australian 18 Footer League’s 2011-2012 Season (R. Watt Memorial Trophy) was sailed on Sydney Harbour today and resulted in a win for Appliancesonline.com.au, skippered by former Australian champion Micah Lane, who was returning to the 18s after a two seasons ‘retirement’.

Lane and his team of Paul Montague and Tom Anderson were always near the lead throughout the three lap race to score a 13s victory over Cameron McDonald, Darren McKavanagh and Will Chapman in The Kitchen Maker.

Three times world 14 Footer champion Archie Massey, Dan Wilsdon and Mike McKensey were a further 1m6s back in third place, ahead of Kenwood-Rabbitohs (Brett Van Munster), Smeg (Nick Press) and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon).

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With a WSW breeze prevailing, the starter sent the fleet over a three-lap windward-return course. Most of the fleet chose their bigger #1 rigs while Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) went #2. Most of the fleet went to the right hand side after the start while Smeg led those on the left. Yandoo (John Winning) took the lead on the windward beat to the first set of 3-buoys marks, but it was The Kitchen Maker which gained the advantage of a red buoy rounding to lead as spinnakers were set for the run back to the bottom mark.

Once again the Mark Foy Championship-winning Yandoo crew took the lead but a rare capsize at the mark by the talented Winning, Andrew Hay and Dave Gibson team saw their day end while Mojo Wine, Appliancesonline.com.au, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and The Kitchen Maker were left to battle for the premier placing.

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Over the second lap of the course Mojo Wine dominated the fleet and looked a likely winner as the fleet headed back for the final 3-buoys mark. Mojo Wine, Appliancesonline.com.au and The Kitchen Maker staged an excellent battle with the lead changing several times.

Finally, The Kitchen Maker held a narrow lead over Appliancesonline.com.au as spinnakers were set for the run to the finish but the experienced Appliancesonline team won the tactical gybing battle to score a narrow win in the season opener. Many of the teams will improve over coming weeks as their new rigs become available.

Next week is Race 1 of the 5-race 3-Buoys Challenge Series for the Yandoo Trophy.

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www.18footers.com.au and www.flying18s.com.
Full video coverage of the race can also be seen on http://www.18footerstv.com/
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