The brilliant conditions which have prevailed for the opening races of the 2014-2015 Australian 18 Footers League season continued today for Race 1 of the Club Championship on Sydney Harbour.
After all teams registered their new equipment, they took to the harbour in a South-East breeze, which gusted to more than 20-knots.
Two of the top skiffs had major skipper changes. James Francis replaced Seve Jarvin on Gotta Love It 7 and Hugh Stodart replaced Michael Coxon on Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.
The change on the ‘7’red machine made little difference as Gotta Love It 7 (James Francis, Sam Newton, Scott Babbage) scored another brilliant victory – by 2m58s.
Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy, Charles Dorron), sporting a brand new #2 rig, finished in second place, with Smeg (David Witt, Tom Clout, Reece Goldsmith) a further 1m30s back in third place.
Yandoo (John Winning) was fourth, followed by Compassmarkets.com (Keegan York) and Mojo Wine (Lee Knapton).
Knapton and his Mojo Wine team led to the windward mark in Rose Bay where they headed a closely bunched fleet headed by Coopers-Rag & Famish, Smeg and Gotta Love It 7.
Team Seven grabbed a narrow lead from Mojo after the long spinnaker run from Rose Bay to Robertson Point and maintained a 15s margin on the following windward beat back to Clarke Island.
Coopers 62-Rag & Famish and Smeg were next followed by Yandoo, Compassmarkets.com and Asko Appliances (James Dorron).
Mojo Wine challenged ‘7’ strongly on the run to Chowder Bay but couldn’t bridge the gap, then ‘7’ powered away on the next work into Rose Bay.
Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel was making up time and moved ahead of Mojo Wine, whose chances disappeared in a wild capsize on the bear-away.
Little changed over the final four legs of the course with Gotta Love 7’s crew sailing superbly to record their convincing victory.
The Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy for the handicap section of the race went to John Winning’s Yandoo.
A wonderful result when the trophy honouring one of the greatest 18 Footer men of the past (Alf Beashel) is won by one of the present great 18 Footer men.
– Frank Quealey