The battle for the SLAM-Winning Appliances Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship has tightened considerably following the second consecutive win by Fiat in Race 4 of the series on Sydney Harbour today. The defending champion team of Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Nathan Ellis had to come from behind the young Gotta Love It 7 team to win by one minute in a light-moderate north east wind.
Asko Appliances (Hugh Stodart) was a further 26secs back in third place, followed by Macquarie Real Estate (Micah Lane), Club Marine (Adam Beashel) and Wild Oats Chardonnay (Howie Hamlin).
With three more races to be sailed in the series, Gotta Love It 7 leads the pointscore with 6 points lost (net 4 points). Asko is second on 14 points (net 10), Fiat 15 (8), Omega Smeg, Trevor Barnabas, 26 (11) and Club Marine 27 (14). CT Sailbattens (Phil Airey) and Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) share sixth place on 35 with net scores of 20 and 22 respectively.
Gotta Love It 7, SLAM (Grant Rollerson), Fiat, TMF Group (Euan Mc Nicol), and Pure Blonde (James Francis) won the start at the pin end of the line , while Rag & Famish and Macquarie Real Estate were well placed in the middle. In a close battle up the windward leg, Gotta Love It 7 held off strong challenges from Fiat, Asko, Macquarie and Wild Oats. At the Beashel Buoy, Gotta Love It 7 led by 15secs from Fiat with Asko and Macquarie in hot pursuit.
These placings remained unchanged to the wing mark off Shark Island and down to the bottom mark at Clarke Island but Fiat had reduced 7's lead to 8 secs. Asko and Macquarie were having their own personal duel and had also made up some time on the two leaders. Wild Oats and Club Marine were next, followed by Omega Smeg and Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster).
Gotta Love It 7 and Fiat split tacks up the next leg with Fiat coming out on top to gain a two boatlengths lead at the Beashel Buoy. Asko and Macquarie were still holding their placings with little between the two skiffs. 7 was the first to gybe on the spinnaker run down the middle of the course but Fiat's crew followed and a great battle took place as the skiffs raced with only a couple of secs separating them.
There were two 'match races' taking place
Fiat and Gotta Love It 7 for the lead and Asko and Macquarie for third and fourth. Fiat's lead was 15secs at the bottom mark the second time then 20secs at the final windward mark. Fiat had shown a slight edge in downwind speed on the previous runs but totally dominated the final run to extend their winning margin to one minute in a very impressive display.
Asko Appliances continued to hold out the determined challenge by Macquarie Real Estate to take third place by just 14secs.
Tomorrow's Race 5 could have a critical bearing on the final outcome as the pressure mounts at the top end of the fleet.
Today's race sponsored by Maytag and Red Bottle
Event website: www.18footers.com.au