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2023-24 NSW 18ft Skiff Championship - Will the feeling of déjà vu continue?

by Frank Quealey 28 Nov 2023 22:15 PST

Fluctuating winds and a number of start and racing incidents affected Day One of the 2023-24 NSW 18ft skiff Championship, which was conducted by the Australian 18 Footers League on Sydney Harbour last Sunday.

In the first of two windward-leeward 2-lap races staged on the day, a light variable South-East breeze sent positions throughout the fleet into a spin, particularly near the weather mark in Rose Bay.

The OCS and need to re-start by five teams (Lazarus, Balmain, Smeg, The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, Marine Outlet) only added more confusion to the race.

Despite not having the usual action-packed racing conditions and the disappointment for a few of the leading contenders, the results on the day created a feeling of déjà vu as the father and son-led teams of Yandoo and Andoo dominated the top of the result sheets - as they did in the 2022-23 NSW Championship.

Defending champion John 'Herman' Winning Jr (Andoo) presently holds a one point lead over his father John 'Woody' Winning (Yandoo) after each won a race on the opening day of this year's title.

It was not only the victories in each race, but the manner in which the two teams handled the variety of conditions, that has set a high standard which the rest of the fleet will have to quickly reach if they want to challenge last Sunday's winning teams.

Andoo's windward speed in the light SE breeze during Race 1 was outstanding. On the first beat from the start to the weather mark, Andoo opened up a 30s lead over Yandoo, then on the second beat to the same weather mark increased her lead by more than 50s.

Andoo's winning margin was a very impressive 1m46s.

In the NE breeze of Race 2, Yandoo took advantage of an early 7s lead over Rag & Famish Hotel, skippered by Tom Needham, at the first weather mark to increase her lead over the entire course and record an all-the-way win by 35s.

With two consistent placings on Day One (2nd and 4th), Rag & Famish Hotel is well placed to challenge the Winning family domination to date, as is the brand new unsponsored skiff 'Your Name Here', skippered by former Australian Cherub champion Kirk Mitchell, with placings of 5th and 3rd in the two races.

Australian champion Finport Finance, which will have her regular skipper back for next Sunday's racing, and Jordan Girdis' Fisher & Paykel are heading the rest of the fleet on the points table but a number of other teams hoping to perform better than last weekend include Balmain (Henry Larkings), Lazarus (Tom Cunich), Burrawang-Young-Henrys (Simon Nearn) and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Jacob Marks).

The progress point scores after Day One racing are:

1Andoo (John Winning Jnr / Seve Jarvin / Sam Newton)123
2Yandoo (John Winning Snr / Fang Warren / Lewis Brake)314
3Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price / Josh McKnight / Simon Hoffman)246
4Your Name Here (Kirk Mitchell / Andrew Stephenson / Daniel Barnett)538
5Finport Finance (Keagan York / Matt Stenta / Phil Marshall)4610
6Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis / Jacob Broome / Josh Feldmann)12517
7smeg (Nathan McNamara / Jed Cruikshank / Jack Taylor)9817
8Marine Outlet (John Cooley / Cam Gundy / Charlie Gundy)61319
9Shaw and Partners (Emma Rankin / Cam McDonald / Tom Quigley)91120
10The Oak Double Bay / 4 Pines (Jacob Marks / Alex Marinelli / Matt Doyle)71421
11Burrawang‑Young Henrys (Simon Nearn / Cam Walker / Paddy Bannon)14721
12Lazarus Capital Partners (Tom Cunich / Marc Chapon / Finn Rodowicz)111021
13Balmain (Henry Larkings / Flynn Twomey / Fynn Sprott)13922
14The Kitchen Maker/ Ceasarstone (Lachlan Steel / Jerome Watts / Ben Kirkby)81523
15Sixt (Nathan Edwards / Alex Leslie / Locky Pryor)151227
1618 Footers Bar and Restaurant (Hugo Stoner / Hugo Leeming / Hamish Vass)161632
17Noakes Red (Bec Hancock / Henry Stabback / Charlie Gundy)181735

There are six more races to be sailed (two windward-leeward, 2-lap races each day) over the next three Sundays. Each team will discard their worst performance to determine their final total.

The early forecast for Sunday afternoon is a 17-18 knots Southerly breeze which should provide far more steady conditions than Day One and more exciting racing for both spectators and competitors.

Don't forget, the regular spectator ferry is back in action as it has been for the past 88 years, and will leave Rose Bay Public Wharf (old wharf) next Sunday at 2pm.

For those unable to get the spectator ferry, you can still 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.

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 here:

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