18ft Skiffs – Race 5 Australian Championship

President’s Trophy – Sunday, 11 February 2024   

The NSW champion Yandoo 18ft skiff team added another title to its 2023-24 season triumphs when, despite finishing in fourth place in today’s Sixt Race 5 of the Australian Championship, it locked up the series with one more race still to be sailed on Sydney Harbour next Sunday.

With Yandoo’s regular skipper John ‘Woody’ Winning sidelined through injury, the 2006-07 Australian champion Micah Lane took over the helm and, joined by Fang Warren (sheet) and Lewis Brake (bow) for the past two weeks, to seal the team’s victory with a race to spare.

While the new champion team was unable to produce its best performance, the defending champion Finport Finance team of Keagan York, Matt Stents and Harry Hall were dominant throughout the entire course and controlled the race from the start in the light ENE breeze of around 8knots.

At the finish, after leading for the entire race, Finport Finance crossed the line 35s ahead of Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price, Josh McKnight, FinnRodowicz).

Balmain (Henry Larkings, Flynn Twomey, Fynn Sprott) finished third, a further 2m13s behind behind Rag & Famish Hotel, with Yandoo in fourth place, followed by The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Jacob Marks) and Andoo (John Winning Jr).

With next Sunday’s race to be sailed to complete the Australian Championship, after each team discards its worst race result so far, the progress points are: Yandoo on five points, followed by Rag & Famish Hotel on 10, Finport Finance on 11, Vaikobi (Kirk Mitchell) 15, Andoo 16 and Balmain on 19 points.

From the start in the light breeze today, Finport Finance and Rag & Famish Hotel were always near the lead and opened up a big margin after a successful beat to the weather mark when both teams elected to sail to the RHS of the course.

As spinnakers were set for the spinnaker back to the bottom mark, Finport Finance held a 17s advantage over The Rag while the next boat, Balmain in third place, was almost one minutes behind the leader.

Yandoo was in fourth place ahead of the German team in Black Knight (Heinrich von Bayern, Thomas Martin, Andy Martin), which had only earlier arrived in Sydney to contest next month’s JJ Giltinan World 18ft skiff Championship, and was competing by invitation.

Fisher & Paykel (Bryce Edwards) was next, followed by 18 Footers Bar & Restaurant (Hugo Stoner), Andoo, Burrawang-Young Henrys (Simon Nearn), Marine Outlet (John Cooley) and Smeg (Nathan McNamara).

The spinnaker run set up the tone for the remainder of the race for the winner.  Finport’s lead went from 17s at the weather mark to 2m at the bottom and the race was as good as over for the rest of the fleet.

Balmain and Yandoo had also sailed a great leg and were just a few secs behind Rag & Famish Hotel when the trio set out on the second of the four windward beats over the windward-return course.

Over the second lap of the course, Finport Finance maintained a lead of around 1m40s over Rag & Famish Hotel and it was left to the battle between Yandoo and Balmain, for third place, to maintain the spectator major interest.

At the bottom mark on the second lap, Yandoo had managed to get ahead of Balmain while The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, skippered by 16-year-old Jacob Marks, had made up an incredible amount of time to be in fifth place, after not being inside the top eleven boats earlier in the race.

The leaders continued to concentrate mainly on the RHS of the course on the final two windward legs with just under two minutes separating Finport Finance and The Rag.

Again, it was the battle between Balmain and the new champion Yandoo which held most of the interest to the finish with the former skiff taking the honours.

results after race 5

Rag & Famish Hotel’s second placing in today’s race was enough to win the President’s Trophy handicap section of the race, which is also one of the races included in the Australian 18 Footers League’s Season Point Score series.

Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis) currently leads the Season Point Score series with a total of  113 points, followed by Smeg on 121 and Yandoo on 126.

The League’s spectator ferry will follow all the action of next Sunday’s final race of the Australian championship, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf at 2.15pm.  Tickets are available at: 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.

Images by Sail Media

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