18ft Skiffs – Queen of the Harbour 2024

Sunday, 17 March 2024 – Sydney Harbour

The annual 18ft skiffs Queen of the Harbour race has been around on Sydney Harbour for nearly 100 years and is usually won by a female member of the handicap-winning crew, but in today’s race the winning queen, Lucy Copeland became the first winner as part of an all-female crew to win the award.

Lucy became the 2024 Queen when she teamed with Tash Bryant, Maddy McLeay and Lily Richardson on Sixt to score a dramatic 1sec. victory over the Shaw and Partners Financial Services team of Emma Rankin, Cam McDonald, Tom Quigley and ‘queen’ Emma Tallis.

Marine Outlet (Brett Van Munster, Charlie Gundy, John Walton and ‘queen’ Yasmin Christenson) a further 1m3s back in third place ahead of Smeg (Nathan McNamara, Jed Cruikshank, Jack Taylor and ‘queen’ Karen Benson), which was actually the first team to complete the course after the scratch start.

Burrawang-Young Henrys, which was also skippered by another female, Maria-Luisa Coulson, finished in fifth place followed by Lazarus (Marcus Ahley-Jones) and Queensland’s Big Foot Bags and Covers (Dave Hayter).

The female participation and success is unprecedented and original organisers of the event would not believe the levels now being reached.

The race was sailed in a very light Easterly breeze between 5-8 knots over a three-lap windward-return course set between Clark Island off Double Bay and Shark Island off Rose Bay.

Shortly after the start, teams electing to take the RHS of the course did best on the first beat and Vaikobi (Kirk Mitchell) set up a 40s lead over Big Foot.  Sixt was in third place, followed by Finport Finance (John Cooley) and Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price).

Typical of that type of breeze and that area of Sydney Harbour, things were never going to be predictable so it was no real surprise when Big Foot grabbed a 5s lead from Vaikobi at the bottom mark.

Finport Finance had worked her way into third place ahead of Smeg, which rounded the buoy fourth after Rag & Famish Hotel and Sixt had difficulties as they came together near the mark.

Big Foot Bags and Covers then opened up a break of more than one minute over Smeg on the following beat back to Rose Bay but as positions continued to change Shaw and Partners was now beginning to mount a challenge and moved into third place behind Smeg.

With Big Foot still 40s ahead and only one more lap of the course to sail, the Brisbane team looked a likely winner but when the team narrowly missed the final windward mark and were relegated back to fourth place it was the consistent Smeg team which won the spinnaker run to the finish to claim line honours victory.

When Shaw and Partners Financial Services crossed the line in second place it looked as though the two Emmas (Emma Rankin and ‘queen’ Emma Tallis) would be the overall winners, the Sixt team of 49er FX champion sailors raced home to win the award by one second.

Today is the final race of the 2023-24 season.  Racing will recommence in October.  As we get closer to October, all information of the coming season will be available on www.18footers.com

To view some of the fantastic 2023-24 season racing, particularly the action from the Winnings 2024 JJ Giltinan (World) Championship, go to www.18footers.com and click on the ’18 FOOTERS TV’ button.

Frank Quealey

Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.

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