World champion Fiat crew Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Nathan Ellis sailed a near perfect race in a light easterly breeze to take out Race 3 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour Sunday.
Fiat led throughout to take victory by 42secs from series leaders Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton and Rob Bell in Gotta Love It 7, with defending champion John Winning’s Ssangyong Yandoo a further 5secs back in third place.
Despite today’s loss, Gotta Love It 7 leads the championship pointscore on 4 points, followed by Asko Appliances (Hugh Stodart) on 10 points, Club Marine (skippered today by Euan Mc Nicol as replacement for Adam Beashel) 13, Fiat 14, Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) 15 and Ssangyong Yandoo on 20.
Fiat, Fisher & Paykel (Andrew Cuddihy) and Omega Smeg (Daniel Phillips) won the start at the boat end of the line and, along with Ssangyong Yandoo in the middle, tacked early to get first use of the better breeze.
Ssangyong Yandoo narrowly led Fiat when the pair crossed with Fisher & Paykel close behind. The fluctuating breeze was testing all crews and positions changed continually as the fleet approached the windward mark in Rose Bay.
Fiat led Fisher & Paykel by just 2secs as spinnakers were set for the run to the Clarke Island wing mark, followed by Rag & Famish Hotel, Ssangyong Yandoo, Omega Smeg and Gotta Love It 7, which was 20secs from the lead.
NSW Championship 2007 - 18ft Skiff
There was still little between the two leaders at the wing mark but Ssangyong Yandoo had moved into third place just ahead of Rag & Famish, Club Marine, Asko, Omega Smeg and Gotta Love It 7.
Positions remained relatively unchanged at the end of the first lap of the course as the fleet set out for the windward leg back to Rose Bay for the second time.
The breeze was a little steadier and more predictable this time and Coxon and his crew did an excellent job protecting their lead. Fiat’s new big #1 rig was seen to perfection as the fleet sailed into Rose Bay and her lead had been extended from 15secs to 40secs.
Fisher & Paykel was still holding second spot ahead of Rag & Famish Hotel, Ssangyong Yandoo, Gotta Love It 7, Omega Smeg, Asko and Club Marine. The long spinnaker run was eventful and several changes resulted at the leeward mark to end lap two.
Fiat was now just 15secs ahead of Gotta Love It 7, with Fisher & Paykel and Ssangyong Yandoo close behind. Again, Coxon and his team sailed a copybook race, covering every move their opponents made and always keeping near the right hand side of the course.
They extended their lead back to 40secs at the final windward mark and were untroubled to cross the finish line easy winners over Gotta Love It 7.
One of the biggest improvers today was Active Air-2UE and her rookie team headed by Matthew Searle, which finished a very credible 9th after being among the leading group throughout the race.