Commodore Cup – Sunday, 4 February 2024 – Sydney Harbour
NSW champion Yandoo 18ft skiff team tightened its grip on the title after winning a hard fought Shaw and Partners Race 4 of the Australian Championship, in a 15-20 knot North East wind on Sydney Harbour today.
Skippered by former Australian champion Micah Lane, who was standing in for the injured regular skipper John ‘Woody’ Winning, with Fang Warren on the sheet and Lewis Brake in the bow, Yandoo was always in or near the lead before crossing the finish line 22s ahead of the defending champion Finport Finance, skippered by Keagan York.
York, Trent Barnabas and Phil Marshall had Finport Finance in the lead through the middle of the race and were only 6s behind Yandoo at the final weather mark (Beashel Buoy) but couldn’t match the downwind speed of the winner to the finish line off Clark Island.
A consistent Vaikobi (Kirk Mitchell, Andrew Stephenson, Daniel Barnett) took advantage of Andoo (John Winning Jr) and Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price) capsizing at the last wing mark to finish in third place, 2m28s behind Finport Finance.
Rag & Famish Hotel recovered from her unwanted ‘swim’ to finish in fourth place ahead of Balmain (Henry Larkings), Andoo, Lazarus (Tom Cunich), Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis), Marine Outlet (John Cooley), Sixt (Nathan Edwards), Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Emma Rankin) and Burrawang-Young Henrys (Simon Nearn).
With two more races to be sailed to complete the Australian Championship, after each team discards its worst race result so far, the progress points have Yandoo leading with a total of three points, followed by Rag & Famish Hotel on eight points then a group of Andoo, Finport Finance and Vaikobi: on 10 points.
Balmain (Henry Larkings) completes the top six on the points table.
Finport Finance won the Commodore Cup Trophy, which was the handicap section of today’s race, and is also one of the races included in the Australian 18 Footers League’s Season Point Score series.
Fisher & Paykel now leads the points table on 105, followed by Smeg (Nathan McNamara) on 109 and Yandoo on 111 points.
The race to the weather mark at the Beashel Buoy was close throughout the long, opening windward leg before Andoo got the upper hand to lead Yandoo by just one boat length as spinnakers were set for the run to the wing mark off the southern end of Shark Island.
Finport Finance was in third place ahead of Vaikobi and Rag & Famish Hotel.
When Andoo’s crew elected to sail further to the right of the course, Yandoo and Finport Finance took advantage to grab the lead by the wing mark, then staged a close battle between the islands to the bottom mark off Clark Island, where Finport Finance led narrowly from Andoo and Yandoo.
Rag & Famish Hotel was fourth, followed by Balmain, Vaikobi, Fisher & Paykel, Lazarus, Sixt, Shaw and Partners Financial Services, Marine Outlet and Burrawang-Young Henrys.
These were the only twelve boats still in the race, and all twelve completed the course.
Finport Finance was at her best on the following windward leg back to the Beashel Buoy, where she led by 20s from Yandoo. Andoo was a further 15s back in third place, ahead of Rag & Famish Hotel and Vaikobi.
The race for the lead took another turn on the following spinnaker run back down the harbour to the bottom mark off Clark Island where Yandoo regained the lead over Finport Finance. Andoo and Rag & Famish Hotel were having a similarly close battle for third place.
Once again, Finport Finance threatened to grab the lead back from Yandoo over the final windward leg to Beashel Buoy but Yandoo managed to hold a narrow margin and increased her lead on the final run home to Clark Island.
The conditions were a tough test for all teams and the twelve that completed the course will benefit from the effort as they prepare for the Giltinan World Championship, which begins on Sydney Harbour on March 2.
Race 5 of the Australian Championship will be sailed next Sunday (11 February). The League’s spectator ferry will follow the action, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf at 2.15pm. Tickets are available https://18footers.com/18-footer-racing/spectator-ferry/
If you can’t get out onto Sydney Harbour, you can still watch the SailMedia Livestream camera cat coverage of all the racing action by going to the Club’s www.18footers.com website and clicking on the TV link.
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.