Flukey conditions for 18 footers Spring Series

It was a crazy, frustrating day for the crews of the Australian 18 Footers League’s fleet on Sydney Harbour today as they tried to complete the two races scheduled as part of the seven-race Spring Championship series.

Skiffs surround the star boat.
A very slow start to today’s racing. Pic – 18ft skiffs

There was little, or no, wind in the time prior to the start of the first race of the day (Race 4 of the Spring Championship). And when it did come it came from several directions, which forced race officials to delay the start by 30 minutes.

When the race finally got away, Tech2, The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines and Noakes Youth soon led the fleet towards the first set of windward marks while several teams were left stranded at the start line with no breeze.

The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines on a kite reach.
Series leader The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines. Pic – 18ft skiffs

Australian champion Jack Macartney and his team of Luke Parkinson and Lewis Brake edged away from the other two teams and it was Shaw and Partners Financial Services, skippered by Tom Anderson, which took the challenge to Tech2 on the spinnaker run back to the bottom mark.

Two skiffs in a line on a spinnaker reach.
Shaw and Partners trails Tech2 down the spinnaker run. Pic – 18ft skiffs

The breeze had freshed and came from the NE as the fleet elected to take a variety of courses back down to the bottom mark.

Tech2 continued to hold the lead and it looked as though the Tech2 crew would go on to score a comfortable victory. But the weather was set to play a role in the outcome as Tom Cunich, Fynn Sprott and Kirk Mitchell in Noakes Youth, her challenger, elected to sail a higher course and benefitted from yet another wind fluctuation to grab the victory.

Noakes Youth on a spinnaker reach. Bow person is on the trap wire.
Noakes Youth heads for the finish line and victory. Pic – 18ft skiffs

Noakes Youth crossed the finish line 57 seconds ahead of Tech2, with the consistent Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett, John Cooley, Charlie Gundy) a further 12 seconds back in third place.

The Rag & Famish Hotel team, led by Harry Price, put in another top performance in the trying conditions to finish in fourth place, followed by Yandoo (John Winning) and 18 Footers Bar & Restaurant (Pedro Vozone).

Conditions were becoming near impossible for race officials as the wind direction changed yet again as they tried to reset a course for another race.

Finally, the second race (Race 5 of the Spring Championship) was abandoned for the day.

With the final two races of the series to be sailed next Sunday, The Oak Double Bay-4Pines leads to points table on 19 points, followed by Rag & Famish Hotel on 20, Balmain Slake (Henry Larkings) on 23, Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis) on 25, Yandoo on 26 and today’s winner Noakes Youth on 31 points.

Rag & Famish on a spinnaker reach.
Rag & Famish finished strongly after another good performance. Pic – 18ft skiffs

Races 6 and 7 of the Spring Championship will be conducted next Sunday. 

Spectators can follow the racing on board the club’s spectator ferry, however due to the COVID-19 policy, numbers are limited. Booking online through the club’s website www.18footers.com is essential.  

By Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League

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