Carlton United Graet Race - What is the fastest 18 footer in the world?
by Chris Haskard
Sydney Flying Squadron has completed the 'Graet Race' to find the fastest sailing skiff in the world on Saturday 24 September 2011.
In the tradition of the 18 footers the race was on Saturday and did start at 2.30pm.
On the start line were historic 18 footers, a revolutionary 1962 replica Ben Lexcen designed 'Taipan' Bandit, 18 footer, unrestricted 18 foot skiffs, a Flying Dutchman, Foiling Moths, F18 catamarans and 'A' Class catamarans.
The weather was not kind but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the sailors. The Squaddy’s new spectator ferry 'Emerald Star' was 'packed to the rafters' and a great time was had by all.
The drizzly, rainy conditions and light wind did not really suit any boat but with the generous sponsorship from Carlton United Breweries on the table and bragging rights the motivation was there.
From the start in a eight to ten knot east to sou’easter it was obvious the Foiling Moth of Josh McKnight had the wood on the others. The 'A Class catamaran of newly crowned world champion Steve Brewin was also quick, having won the start at the right end of the line was straight onto the first shift.
Well known cat sailor Rod Waterhouse, whose son Jason just won the F18 Nationals in Magnetic Island Race Week, was hot on their heels.
Not much divided the whole fleet except for the historic skiffs being left behind on the first few legs.
The moth and 'A' Class were first to the top mark and by the end of the first downwind leg the moth was still in the lead, although only just from the F18 with the help of his spinnaker had decreased the lead of the moth.
The uphill speed of the moth and 'A' Class saw them gliding effortlessly to regain the lead at the next top mark.
Horror of all horrors, a rain squall and then the wind dropped out!
The Foiling Moth could not retain enough speed to stay on its foil and without a spinnaker the 'A' Class fell into the same hole. The F18 of Rod Waterhouse still hot on their heels caught up quickly with his spinnaker.
The fat lady had not yet sung and old fashioned horsepower took over.
Who was it that said, 'Big sails win big races?'
With its big rig and comparatively huge spinnaker the unrestricted 18 footer of Cameron McDonald, Hyde Sails, came flying home to win the race.
The 1952 designed 'Flying Dutchman' of Mathew Mitchell stormed home to grab a place on yardstick as did the Bandit.
The luckless Foiling Moth of Josh McKnight managed to scratch out a third place in his division. Rod Waterhouse and Steve Brewin also managed to take home some booty.
The Historic 18 Footer division was well won by Jeremy Sharp in Alruth, three seconds away Australia, Chris Haskard and Britannia, Ian Smith.
The overall winner on the day was the unrestricted 18 foot skiff, Hyde Sails skippered by Cameron McDonald. Congratulations to Cameron on a race well sailed.
The interesting outcome of the race and in seeing the boats head to head is that the Moth is undoubtedly the fastest boat potentially, as are the various catamarans on their day.
If you bet on them you would have lost.
The well sailed 18 foot skiff with its big sails still won the fastest skiff in the world race on that day.
Everyone concerned was thrilled with the concept of the race and look forward to coming back next year to have another crack at it. Sydney Flying Squadron website
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4:38 PM Tue 27 Sep 2011 GMT
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