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JJ Giltinan Trophy- Gotta Love It 7 gives a sailing lesson in Race 4

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz on 5 Mar 2014
C-Tech and 7 side by side down the first run - JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship 2014 Australian 18 Footers League © http://www.18footers.com.au

Race 4 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy began almost on time at 3.00pm today, Wednesday.

The breeze was initially a 16kt seabreeze, with a few sailing with big rigs and most of the fleet on small rigs. A building southerly storm over the City had some influence in the race, dampening the breeze, but the fleet finished before the storm hit with 40kts gusts.

Here is the race commentary, followed by post-race comment from 18fter TV's Mark Heeley:

Start: Gotta Love It 7 was in the third or fourth rank at the start and tacked onto port to clear fleet, after a bad tack - was also at the unfavoured end of the line. Came back on starboard about 15th in fleet.

SMEG, C-Tech and Mojo started at the favoured pin end of the line and were in the lead bunch.

Gotta Love It 7 started to recover mid-beat in the three round course.



Mark 1: At the first mark, Mojo Wines (Chris Nicholson) led from C-Tech, with Gotta Love It 7 in third. Gotta Love It 7 got past C-Tech soon after they started down the run.

Shark Island: Mojo led from GLI7. C-Tech third but fell in a little to windward and dropped a place to SMEG, with F&P and Thurlow following.

Mark 2: Mojo led from GLI7, with SMEG and C-Tech.

Lap 2: Mojo led and headed to the left with GLI7 taking the right when they came together Mojo was two lengths in front. The boats split and took the other's side with GLI7 going to the left.

C-Tech worked their way past SMEG as the pressure began to ease. Leading boats all have small rigs, with five boats on big rigs - Pica, Rags and Famish among them. Building cloud front appears to be affecting the breeze.

Mark 3: GLI7 leads by a 30 second margin from Mojo, with dark clouds over the City - expected to soften the breeze. C-Tech tacked just ahead of SMEG to be third with Thurlow Fisher 4th

SMEG went to the northern side of the harbour and found more pressure as they sailed straight down the harbour into darkening skies over Sydney. SMEG got through into third, with C-Tech fourth and a big gap back to the rest of the fleet.
GLI7 still leading but Mojo with better angles letting Nicholson close the gap. Wind still easing.

Mark 4: GLI7, Mojo second and SMEG sailing fast was third. C-Tech back in fourth, with Thurlow dropping back into the folowing pack as the boats started the last lap. In the mark rounding Thurlow had spinnaker issues, needing two crew into the centre of the boat and dropping two places. Rag and Famish was the first of the big rig boats as the breeze eased to 13kts



Lap 3: Will be an upwind beat and then a repeat of the first leg with a reach to Shark Island and then to the finish.

Mark 5: Gotta Love It 7 extended their lead to 70secs over Mojo - having been 30secs ahead at the end of the previous lap at this point. Mojo led SMEG with C-Tech fourth, and Yamaha who had made big gains on her fellow NZer - with only 10secs between the two.

Finish: The lead boats with Gotta Love It 7 at the front, reached down the harbour into an approaching electrical storm to giver her a third win in the four races sailed, and to put her back on top of the points table. Mojo Wines is second over the line. SMEG finished third. Yesterday's race winner, Alex Vallings took fourth with Yamaha fifth.

After the race, 18ft TV's Mark Heeley spoke with Mike McKensey from Mojo, Dave Ewings from Smeg, and Sam Newton from Gotta Love It 7, as a storm approached with lightning flashing in the background

Sam Newton on how the race went for race winner Gotta Love It 7: 'We go tangled at the start, and were well boxed in, but we were lucky to get a few good lines and got out of there. The boat is fast and we just came back through the fleet to be third around the top mark, and just sailed clean and fast from there onwards.

'We have just got to sail well, keep it tidy, and minimise the mistakes, and the best people will come out at the end.'

Mike McKensey described Mojo Wines's race: : We got off the line clean, today, which made a big difference, and just tried to keep the Red Boat at bay. but they were too good.

'A small rig was definitely quicker than the big rig today. We got three on the wire - and its quick'



Dave Ewings from Smeg on how the front running boats had good boat handling, while those further back from the lead group had the occasional handling error: 'Boat handling was important today. We had our small gear on today as we felt our big gear wasn't going up to the top of the range. We put our little gear on, even though it eased off a bit, but we hung in there, if it eased any more we might have been struggling as there were a few more coming in fast behind us. Luckily we got there in the end.

'We like to sail free. Once we get pinned into a pack, we don't have any free boat speed to get out of the pack - which is where we have been caught the last few days. We got a clean start, a good first work, got caught a bit by tghe ferry at the top.'

Sam Newton (Gotta Love it 7) on how the series leader minimises boat handling problems: 'It is just practice, and thinking ahead. We've have done a lot of practice as a crew and it is what makes a good crew stand out. A bit of luck and a lot of training.'

Dave Ewings on making the crew-work look easy: 'I have been doing it for 25 years. I'm 42 and one of the oldest guys here! It's just practice!'

Mike McKensey (Mojo Wines) on handling and experience: 'It is great having Chris Nicholson at the back. He certainly makes us look good. We've had our moments through the year, but is nice to come good for the JJ's.'
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