A 10-knot North East wind greeted the 20-strong 18ft Skiff fleet for the opening race of the 2008-2009 Australian 18 Footer League's Season on Sydney Harbour today.
The race was conducted under the 3-buoys handicap system for the traditional first race Alf Beashel Trophy and resulted in a win for Active Air-2UE, skippered by Matthew Searle.
Matthew, along with crewmen Dan Wilsdon and Archie Massey brought Active Air-2UE home a 40secs winner from Seve Jarvin's Gotta Love It 7, with De longhi (Simon Nearn) a further 1min 49secs back in third place.
Shortly after the start, Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris), Gotta Love It 7, Active Air-2UE, Thurlow Fisher (Bruce Savage) and Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster) were vying for the lead.
Gotta Love It 7 led the fleet to the first set of windward buoys, but it was Panasonic (Jonathan Whitty) which led narrowly after rounding the nearest of the three buoys.
At the wing mark 7 led with Active Air-2UE into second place ahead of Keith Piggin Estate Agents (Peter Morrison), Panasonic and De longhi.
The 7 team's lead was out to 45secs at the end of the first lap with the placings behind them unchanged from the wing mark.
On the second windward leg Gotta Love It 7 maintained a clear lead but the 3-buoys handicapping was still to take effect.
Only 15secs separated 7 and Active Air-2UE as the pair headed downwind on the long spinnaker run to the leeward mark to end the second lap.
Gotta Love It 7 still led by 15secs as they began the final triangle but Active Air-2UE held the upper hand with the closer rounding buoy still to come.
The race behind the two leaders was just as good with De longhi, Keith Piggin Estate Agents, Panasonic, Thurlow Fisher and Rag & Famish swapping placings throughout.
Active Air-2UE was first around the final set of windward buoys and headed for home with a good lead over Gotta Love It 7.
Matthew and his crew were then never in any danger of defeat as they sailed a faultless course under spinnaker to the finish. http://www.18footers.com.au