18ft Skiffs – Australian Championship

Andoo Race 6 Australian Championship – Sunday, 18 February 2024   

Despite finishing in fourth place today, the Yandoo 18ft skiff team of Micah Lane (skipper), Fang Warren (sheet) and Lewis Brake (bow) officially became the 2023-24 Australian champions following the completion of the national series after the Andoo Race 6 of the championship on Sydney Harbour.

It was a great victory for the team which sailed brilliantly throughout the entire six races despite being without Yandoo’s regular skipper John ‘Woody’ Winning, who was sidelined through injury.

For Micah Lane, it was a great opportunity to add to his record as he previously won the 2006-07 Australian Championship in Macquarie Real Estate.

In today’s final race of the championship, the fleet was subjected to a typical light easterly breeze with unpredictable conditions, particularly approaching the Rose Bay weather mark.  Tough on the crewsm but always guarantees a number of lead changes, and today was no exception as there were four different leaders before the Smeg team crossed the finish line a well-deserved winner.

Smeg’s team of Nathan McNamara, Jed Cruikshank and Jack Taylor came from 1m10s behind the leader at the end of the first lap of the course to take out the race by 29s from the defending champion Finport Finance team, sailed today by Keagan York, Jeronimo Harrison and Tom Clout.

Third place went to Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Emma Rankin, Cameron Mc Donald and Tom Quigley), which finished a further 39s behind Finport Finance.

Yandoo finished fourth, ahead of Andoo (John Winning Jr), Vaikobi (Kirk Mitchell), Lazarus (Tom Cunich), Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris), Marine Outlet (John Cooley) and the early race leader The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Jacob Marks).

On the final points table, Yandoo finished on nine points, followed by Finport Finance on 13, Rag & Famish Hotel on 15, Andoo on 21, Vaikobi also on 21, Smeg on 28, Balmain (Henry Larkings) on 29, The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines 42, Marine Outlet 45 and Fisher & Paykel on 47.

The light breeze, which would have barely reached 10knots at any stage of the race, provided very tricky conditions for the crews on both the long windward legs and spinnaker runs between Rose Bay (in the south) and Kurraba Point, on the north.

At the Rose Bay mark the first time, it was The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, skippered by 16-year-old Jacob Marks, holding a 1m5s lead over Finport Finance, Smeg, Yandoo, Shaw and Partners, Vaikobi, Marine Outlet, The Kitchen Maker (Lachlan Steel) and Lazarus.

Finport’s team reduced the margin down to 15s at the wing mark off Clark Island but the young team on The Oak was still 20s ahead of the defending champion at the bottom mark.

Smeg had retained her third place on the long spinnaker run but was trailing the leader by 1m10s.  This is usually a difficult position to recover from, but when it’s a light easterly breeze on Sydney Harbour it’s not impossible.

The following windward leg back to Rose Bay settled down to be a match race between The Oak and Finport Finance, with the more experienced team on Finport getting the upper hand.

Yandoo, which had been even further back than Smeg at the bottom mark (1m30s behind the leader) gained on the two leaders when they sailed into a calm spot under Shark Island, and grabbed a 10s lead over Finport as spinnakers were set for the long run straight back to the bottom mark off Kurraba Point.

The Oak was still in contention, although she was now 30s behind Yandoo and just ahead of Smeg and Shaw and Partners.

After the long spinnaker run, Finport Finance had regained the lead (just two boat lengths) from Yandoo.  Smeg was in third place (50s from the lead) ahead of The Oak, Shaw and Partners, Rag & Famish Hotel and Andoo, but it looked as though only the two leaders had any real chance of victory.

On the final windward leg back to Rose Bay, for the third and last time, Smeg did what Yandoo had done on the previous lap and took a 20s lead from Finport Finance as all teams set their spinnakers for the short spinnaker run between Shark Island and the finish line off Clark Island.

The race took 1:19:5 to complete the course, yet despite the lack of ‘speed style action’ the race held the spectator interest to a maximum as the lead changed on practically every leg of the course over the final two laps.

Shaw and Partners won the handicap section of today’s race, which is also one of the races included in the Australian 18 Footers League’s Season Point Score series.

Fisher & Paykel, sailed today by Ryan Ewings in place of her regular skipper Jordan Girdis, leads the Season Point Score series with a total of 118 points, followed by Smeg on 123 points and today’s handicap winner Shaw and Partners on 131.  

race 6

NOTE:   There will be no spectator ferry next Sunday and there will be no livestream by SailMedia. 

Due to heavy restrictions being placed on the use of Sydney Harbour next Sunday, the League’s race, which is the final race for the Club Championship and Season Point Score and is the final race before the JJ Giltinan world Championship, cannot be sailed at its usual time and will commence at 12:00.

Frank Quealey

Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.

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