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18ft Skiff 'Supercup' on Sydney Harbour

by Frank Quealey 14 Dec 2018 01:55 PST 14 December 2018

Following a day of consistent rain, a brief thunderstorm, low visibility and light winds, the inaugural Australian 18 Footers League 18ft Skiff Supercup races got under way in poor sailing conditions, but as the weather improved and the breeze freshened, the racing over the three-race series of windward-return short courses on Sydney Harbour this evening was spectacular.

The return to the 18s by many past JJ Giltinan (world) champions was a highlight of the series and showed that the legends of the class still had a great feel for the skiffs.

Six-times JJ Giltinan champion Trevor Barnabas was outstanding, and reminded spectators of his ability to pick the wind shifts, as he skippered the Smeg team, with Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey, to victory in two of the three races'

In the opening race, over two laps, John Winning (2000 JJ Giltinan winner), Mike Kennedy and Luke Parkinson took an early lead in Yandoo and increased her lead to score a good win over a fast-finishing 2004 JJ champ Rob Greenhalgh in Finport Finance, which narrowly finished ahead of Smeg.

Yandoo continued to impress on the first leg of the course in Race 2, but couldn't match the windward speed of Smeg and the finishing burst of Finport Finance and fell back to third place, ahead of Vintec (Dan Phillips), Triple M (David Witt) and Winning Group (Seve Jarvin).

With Smeg and Yandoo equal on points going into the final race, over four laps of the course, the breeze freshened which seemed to prove a big advantage for the Smeg team.

Once again, Smeg won the race to the windward mark to lead Winning Group by 10 seconds, followed by The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Lee Knapton), and Finport Finance.

Smeg was still 10 seconds ahead at the windward mark on the following lap of the course with Winning Group and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines alongside each other.

As the race progressed, Smeg edged further ahead of the other pair, while Finport Finance retained fourth place and The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Stephen Quigley) fifth.

A big change came over the race at the bottom mark on the third lap when The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines capsized and Winning Group lost all chance when the team had spinnaker problems as the crew battled to round the mark.

Many long time supporters were vividly reminded about the 18ft Skiff Racing talent of Trevor Barnabas as the highly efficient Smeg team proved too good on the day.

The event was a great success, particularly despite the dreadful weather conditions, and it looks certain to become a fixture on the Australian 18 Footer League's calendar.

Sunday, 16 December, is Race 4 of the NSW Championship. The club's spectator ferry will follow all the racing action, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2pm.

The race is the final race before the fleet takes a break over the Christmas-New Year period. Racing resumes on Sunday, 13 January 2019.

Live streaming of each race is available on

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