18ft Skiffs – Spring Championship

Spring Championship, Race 6
Today’s Trophy:  Yandoo Trophy
Today’s Race Sponsor:  Noakes
Sunday, 19 November 2023  

The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines team of Jacob Marks, Alex Marinelli and Marc Chapon (standing in for regular bowman Matt Doyle) became the 2023-24 Australian 18 Footer League’s Spring champions following a sensational final race of the six-race Spring Championship series, which was sailed in a wild 18-28-knot ‘black nor’ easter’ on Sydney Harbour today.

Going into today’s race, only eight points separated the leading six teams in the championship, and the demanding conditions were going to play a significant part in the overall result as the teams battled the strong winds and run-out harbour tide.

The conditions proved to be even more demanding than expected and the race became a battle for survival for most of the fleet with only five boats able to complete the long, three-lap course as the strong wind and big seas pounded the boats still on the course.

In the end it was the current Australian champion Finport Finance that crossed the finish line in first place, which was an incredible performance as today’s team was much different to the boat’s regular crew.

Today’s skipper was former Australian champion Micah Lane, while the regular skipper, and current Australian champion Keagan York sailed on the sheet, and Brandon Buyink replaced the injured Phil Marshall in the bow.

Finport Finance’s winning margin was 2m18s from Balmain (Henry Larkings, Fynn Sprott and Flynn Twomey) which completed the final leg of the course with a spectacular, airborne ride that ended with a capsize just after crossing the finish line.

Yandoo (John Winning, Fang Warren and Pete Nicholson) also produced a wonderful exhibition of heavy weather sailing to finish a further 2m50s back in third place. 

The only other boats, from the 14 starters, to complete the course were the fourth placed Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis) and the series winning The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, which finally crossed the finish line more than 30mins behind the winner.

A fifth placing was enough to give the team a total of 29 points from the six races and a one point victory over the defending champion Yandoo team.

Fisher & Paykel finished third overall on 32 points, just ahead of Balmain on 33, Smeg 46 and Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Emma Rankin) on 47 points.

It was an incredible series victory for The Oak team as the 16-year-old skipper Jacob Marks was having only his seventh race in an 18ft skiff after being ‘recruited’  from the 29ers by the team’s manager and sheet hand Alex Marinelli .

The young crew led for the first half of the race before a vicious capsize on the long spinnaker run down the centre of the course on the second lap of the race almost ended their chance of a series victory.

After the first lap of the course only seven teams were still racing on the course – the five finishers plus Smeg (Nathan McNamara) and Burrawang-Young Henrys (Simon Nearn).

The Oak’s young team were in fine form as they led the fleet down the middle of the course before their untimely capsize and showed the type of form that gained them the title.

Spectators and viewers on the live stream video coverage were treated to some of the most spectacular racing seen on the harbour for years as the crews drove their skiffs at top speed down the spinnaker runs.

Spring Champs Results
Spring Champs Results

Races 1 and 2 of the NSW Championship will be sailed next Sunday, November 26.  Races 7 and 8 of the Season Point Score will be held in conjunction with the NSW Championship races.    

The club’s regular spectator ferry is now back in action and leaves Rose Bay Public Wharf (old wharf) at 2pm each Sunday.

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 and all 18 footer supporters are welcome to come down to the clubhouse Alternative’ Ferry.     

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 by going to the Club’s www.18footers.com website and clicking on the TV link

Frank Quealey

Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.

M.O.S.S Australia
Cyclops Marine