by Selwyn Black
On 31 January, sailing rivals for over 30 years battled it out in replicas of century old 18’ historical skiffs in the first race of their Australian Championships.
18ft historical skiff
Nine gaff rigged replicas with crews of up to 10 faced the starter at the Sydney Flying Squadron, including Jenny 7 from Queensland and some NZ visitors.
A north easterly of 20-25 knots running against the tide took an early casualty with a swim by the prior week’s winner Mistake. Mistake is being skippered by former America’s Cup sailor Harold Cudmore and has a crew including seven times modern 18’s World Champion Andrew Buckland.
The leader at every mark except the last was the defending champion Yendys, skippered by Bob Killick, with his team including John 'Steamer' Stanley.
However, on the tight reach up to Shark Island, in treacherous conditions, Rob Brown’s Australia IV and John Winning’s much older Aberdare went for broke with spinnakers and they raced past Yendys and with successful gybes they drove their boats flat out in a battle to the finish. Brown’s team won narrowly from Winning’s followed by Yendys, Jenny 7, and Brittania. Fearless sailing won the day.
The final winner will be determined by a rating which takes into account historical authenticity and boat age. The 1st February race was cancelled and the final two races are on Saturday 2 February 2013. A spectator ferry leaves the Sydney Flying Squadron at 1:45 pm. With more strong winds forecast, there will be plenty of thrills and spills!