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2019 Historical 18 Footer Australian Championship at Sydney Flying Squadron

by Bob Chapman, Sydney Flying Squadron 13 Feb 05:49 PST 19 January, 1-2 February 2019
Race 1 start line action - 2019 Historical 18 Footer Australian Championship © Bruce Kerridge

The 2019 Historic 18 Footer Australian Championship for the Galloping Ghost Trophy was conducted by the Sydney Flying Squadron in conjunction with the Australian Historical Sailing Skiff Association (AHSSA), on Sydney Harbour over three races on 19 January, 1 and 2 February.

Irishman Harold Cudmore made his annual pilgrimage down-under to defend the title he won last year at the helm of Yendys, while a number of skiffs had significant upgrades in preparation for this event. The skiffs experienced a range of conditions over the three races requiring the use of various rig configurations, with Aberdare (John Winning) and Yendys engaged in a boat-on-boat contest for much of the event. Aberdare finished the series on five points, with The Mistake and Britannia on 11 points, then Yendys on 12 points.

Race one was sailed in a fresh and gusty southerly, with Yendys moving into the lead on the first upwind leg to Clark Island, Aberdare moved into the lead on the free run down to Chowder Bay, and then Yendys edged back into the lead on the next beat to Shark Island to round first for the shy run back to Kirribilli. Aberdare regained the lead soon after with both skiffs hard pressed and fully loaded-up under peak-head spinnakers.

Yendys' backstay failed halfway down this run resulting in a broken mast. Aberdare went on to complete the next two legs of the course to score a comfortable win on AHSSA Rating from The Mistake, Britannia, Australia IV, Scot, Alruth and Top Weight. Fortunately there was a long break until the next race (ie Australia Day Regatta on the following/intervening Saturday) for Yendys to repair the damage.

Race 2 was held on a Friday afternoon, another southerly, this time not so fresh with the breeze more into the right from the SSW. Yendys started well and was first to round Clark Island for the very square run to Chowder, Aberdare made up a couple of places downwind to move into 2nd place, while Yendys continued to lead. Aberdare chased for the remainder of the race, the run back to Kirribilli was too tight to carry a spinnaker, Yendys eventually taking the gun by 40 secs, but more importantly winning the race on AHSSA Rating from Aberdare, Top Weight, Britannia, Alruth, The Mistake, Australia IV, and Scot.

Race 3 was sailed in a light easterly under big rigs to be contested in displacement mode (no spray flying or hull-planing today). Aberdare tacked onto port soon after the start to pick up a good lay for the beat up to Shark Island and was first to round for the square run back to Kirribilli closely followed by Yendys wherein the two skiffs resumed their 2 boat duel for the remainder of the race, with Aberdare taking the gun by 40 secs but with Yendys claiming the win on AHSSA Rating from Aberdare, The Mistake, Britannia, Scot, Australia IV, Top Weight, Alruth and Tangalooma.

Another interesting series to showcase these amazing craft and the close racing from such disparate designs of different eras of 18 footer sailing, with full credit to the respective crews, as always the vital ingredient for success in any skiff class.

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