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18ft Skiff Club Championship Race 1

by Frank Quealey 22 Oct 01:00 PDT 22 October 2023
Windward mark rounding on lap one - 18ft Skiffs: Club Championship, Race 1 © SailMedia

The first championship race of the Australian 18 Footers League's 2023-24 season was staged on Sydney Harbour today, when the League conducted Race 1 of the Club Championship, and resulted in an outstanding win for the Yandoo team of John 'Woody' Winning, Fang Warren and Josh Porebski who gave a wonderful exhibition in very tricky conditions.

Yandoo's crew were locked in a tight battle with the Balmain team of Henry Larkings, Fynn Sprott and Flynn Twomey over the first lap of the course before racing away over the latter half of the race to defeat Balmain by an emphatic 1m46s.

Lazarus (Tom Cunich, Marc Chapon and Finn Rodowicz) was one of six boats recalled at the start and her crew produced a great effort to recover and finish in third place, just 38s behind Balmain.

Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price) finished in fourth place, ahead of Marine Outlet (John Cooley) and Australian champion Finport Finance (Keagan York).

The day began dramatically when one of the pre-race favourites, Giltinan world champion Andoo was forced out of the race after the boom broke during the rigging process.

Once on the water, the drama continued when the start was delayed by more than 30mins due to a fluctuating ESE breeze and the need to change the race from a traditional SE course to a three-lap windward-return race.

Finally, the fleet set off in a 8-10 knot breeze and headed to the first windward mark on the course, off Watsons Bay.

Just a few minutes into the race, Yandoo and Balmain soon established themselves at the head of the fleet on the right hand side of the course while Finport Finance went far left and fell well off the lead.

It was an excellent contest between the far more experienced Yandoo team and the younger Balmain crew as the pair were separated by just a few seconds as they battled to reach the windward buoy.

Balmain's crew took the honours and led Yandoo by 23s as spinnakers were set for the run back to the bottom mark, while the rest of the fleet trailed by more than a minute after being caught in very light winds near the mark.

Marine Outlet was in third place, ahead of The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Jacob Marks), Finport Finance, Burrawang-Young Henrys (Simon Nearn), Rag & Famish Hotel, Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis), Sixt (Nathan Edwards) and Lazarus.

There was little between the two leaders downwind as they battled with only a few boat lengths between them before Yandoo got the final upper hand to head back upwind with a slender 10s margin.

The rest of the fleet was now more than two and a half minutes back with Marine Outlet still holding third place ahead of Rag & Famish Hotel, Finport Finance and Lazarus, which was making a great burst through the fleet.

As conditions became more difficult in very fluctuating winds, the more experienced Yandoo crew finally shook off the Balmain challenge and had opened up a 55s margin at the windward mark on the second lap.

From that point, the Yandoo team was never threatened as the crew gave a faultless display to complete the course with their 1m46s winning margin.

Race 3 of the Spring Championship was held in conjunction with the Club Championship race and resulted in a win for the consistent Marine Outlet team of John Cooley, Cam Gundy and Lewis Brake.

The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, skippered by 16-year-old Jacob Marks, finished in second place, ahead of Balmain, Fisher & Paykel, 18 Footers Bar & Restaurant (Hugo Stoner) and Yandoo.

After the first three races, the equal leaders in the Spring Championship and Season Point Score are Yandoo and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines on 16 points, followed by Fisher & Paykel and Smeg (Nathan McNamara) equal on 18 points, Balmain on 19 and Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Emma Rankin) on 20.

The Shaw and Partners team went into today's race level at the top of the points table, but capsized after a near collision with the Smeg team at the bottom mark on the first lap of the course and could not come back and finished in tenth place.

Race 4 of the Spring Championship will be sailed next Sunday, October 29 and Race 4 of the Season Point Score will be held in conjunction with the Spring Championship race.

Don't forget, you can join the Australian 18 Footers League's 'Alternative Ferry in the League's clubhouse and enjoy all the racing action LIVE on the massive screen broadcasting the SailMedia Livestream camera cat coverage of the racing, and there will be special drinks and food offers for those attending who wish to support their favourite team.

It's a really unique way to celebrate the great racing we have seen at the start of the 2023-24 season and all 18 footer supporters are welcome to come down to the clubhouse and enjoy the 'Alternative' Ferry.

If you can't get out onto Sydney Harbour to see the action-packed racing, or come to the club's 'Alternative' Ferry', you can catch it LIVE by going to the Club's website and clicking on the TV link.

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