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18ft Skiffs: Andoo sets the benchmark

by Frank Quealey 29 Nov 2022 22:10 PST

The Andoo team of John Winning Jr, Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton have set a high benchmark to the rest of the 18 footer fleet competing in the NSW Championship, following a polished performance in very difficult wind conditions on Sydney Harbour last Sunday.

Andoo's boat speed, together with excellent tactics by her skipper and crew, saw the 2022 JJ Giltinan Championship-winning Andoo lead for almost the entire course to record a 31s win over Smeg, skippered by four-time Giltinan champion Michael Coxon.

The Coxon-led Smeg team of Ricky Bridge and Tom Anderson, can bring some confidence to next Sunday's Race 2 of the NSW titles due to the dramatic wind change experienced by the fleet, on Sunday, over the final two legs of the North East course.

Smeg trailed Andoo by 30s at the top mark on the first of three laps, and finished 31s back, but before the wind change Andoo held a lead of around 55s over Smeg going to the final top mark.

It has set the scene for a great race next Sunday, especially as the other top championship contending Rag & Famish Hotel team is expected to be a much stronger challenger than she was in Race 1.

'The Rag' was well in contention with Andoo as the fleet headed up the first windward leg of the course to the Beashel Buoy, but the team elected to sail on the left hand side of the course while both Andoo and Smeg went to the right.

The result, Rag & Famish Hotel trailed Andoo by 1m35s at the top mark and lost all hope of victory.

While The Rag's team may have had far better days on Sydney Harbour, two teams which performed consistently well throughout the race were Cam Gundy's Ilve and Jordan Girdis' Fisher & Paykel.

Ilve finished in third place and Fisher and Paykel was fourth.

Gundy came into the 18 footer fleet in 2018-19, from the 12ft skiffs, as part of Simon Nearn's team, and when Nearn didn't compete in the following season he stayed with the same boat under Marcus Ashley-Jones as skipper.

He had three seasons with Marcus before taking over as skipper of the Ilve 18 footer for the first time just seven weeks ago.

His 12ft skiff experience and talent as a skipper is obvious as he and his team have shown consistently good form in the racing so far this season.

According to Cam, "we are just taking things week-by-week and I'm concentrating on learning to steer an 18". Adding "I'm still getting used to starting", Cam must have forgotten that he won the start on Sunday and led the experienced teams across Sydney Harbour from the start at Clark Island to the first tack off Bradleys Head.

Jordan Girdis has been a consistent performer in the fleet for several seasons but earlier this season has not been as close to the front of the fleet as he usually is due to some bad luck as well as settling in a new team.

On Sunday, however, it was back to his former consistency in Race 1 when he sailed most of the course in fourth place, despite strong challenges from Kirk Mitchell's Birkenhead Point Marina, Yandoo (John Winning), Balmain Slake (Henry Larkings) and, in the latter part of the race, Rag & Famish Hotel.

If early wind forecasts of an 18 knot North East wind at race time on Sunday becomes a reality, we could be in for a great spectacle as the high performance skiffs light up Sydney Harbour.

Spectators can follow the action on board the club's spectator ferry, as they have done for the past 87 years, which leaves Double Bay Wharf alongside the clubhouse at 2pm.

Booking online through the club's website www.18footers.com is essential, 18footers.com/18-footer-racing/spectator-ferry

For anyone who can't make it out onto the water, the League's live broadcast team will be out on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action. Live streaming is available at 18footers.com by clicking on the '18 Footers TV' link.

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