New Zealand's domination of the 2018 Winning Group 2018 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship continued on Sydney Harbour today when Honda Marine proved too good for the 25-boat fleet of the world's best 18 Footer teams.
David McDiarmid, Matt Steven and Brad Collins grabbed the lead soon after the start and led for most of the course before going on to a 2m6s win from a determined Asko Appliances (James Dorron, Paul Montague, Harry Bethwaite) team.
Race 1 winner, and overall points leader, Maersk Line (Josh Porebski, Jack Simpson, Dave Hazzard) battled all throughout the race with Asko Appliances and finished a further 32s back in third place.
While the top three teams broke away from the rest of the fleet, the battle for the minor placings was intense in the 25-30-knot Southerly which battered the harbour course.
Brett Van Munster's Appliancesonline.com.au finished fourth, followed by Knight Frank (Riley Dean), Yandoo (John Winning), Ilve (Oliver Hartas) and Triple M (James Ward).
After the two races sailed so far, Maersk Line leads with a total of four points, followed by Honda Marine on 5, Asko Appliances on 7, Finport Trade Finance (Keagan York) on 11, Knight Frank and Appliancesonline on 13 and Harken (Riley Gibbs) on 15.
Honda Marine led a group, in cluding Harken, Asko Appliances and Knight Frank, to the first windward mark off Clark Island, then had to withstand a great challenge by the Maersk Line, Asko Appliances and Appliancesonline.com.au teams on the long spinnaker run to Obelisk.
The following windward leg back into the teeth of the wind to the Rose Bay mark saw a wonderful battle develop between Asko Appliances and Honda Marine with Asko leading by 5s as the pair sped off on a two-sail reach back to the bottom mark.
Both teams were superb in very difficult conditions and Honda Marine regained her lead for the work back across the harbour to the windward mark off Clark Island.
While the two leaders were producing a terrific contest, the group behind them was also providing the large crowd with some close racing.
Appliancesonline and Maersk Line, Ilve and Yandoo, Knight Frank and Triple M had three individual battles as the wind took a heavy toll on the fleet.
One of the most outstanding performances was the effort by the Knight Frank team (Riley Dean, Luke Stevenson and Tim Snowden) who recovered from a spectacular capsize off Shark Island to finish an incredible fifth on the day.
Back at the front, Honda Marine was able to hold off Asko Appliances over the final lap of the course and edged away for a good victory.
Race 3 of the JJ Giltinan Championship will be sailed on Sydney Harbour on Tuesday 6 March. Race dates for the rest of the championship are:
Race 4 Wednesday March 7
Race 5 Thursday March 8
Race 6 Saturday March 10
Race 7 Sunday March 11
Australian 18 Footers League