Sunday will be a historic day in JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Racing Championship history when a New Zealand team will be the first Kiwi team to win the championship on Sydney Harbour since the first championship regatta was sailed back in 1938.
Only Mersk Line (Josh Porebski, Jack Simpson, Dave Hazzard) or Honda Marine (David McDiarmid, Matt Steven, Brad Collins) can win the 2018 regatta.
After a dramatic day of racing on Sydney Harbour today, Australian champion Smeg (Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge, Mike McKensey) took the honours by just 8s from Honda Marine, with Asko Appliances (James Dorron, Paul Montague, Harry Bethwaite) a further 10s back in third place.
Finport Trade Finance (Keagan York) finished fourth, with Maersk Line fifth. Only 38s separated the top five boats in a hard fought race over the Easterly course sailed in 9-12-knots of breeze.
Asko Appliances led for the first lap of the course but lost out to Smeg on the second windward beat.
Honda Marine needed to finish ahead of Maersk Line to give the team the best possible chance of becoming the first New Zealanders to win on Sydney Harbour and was always in the top three and ahead of Maersk Line.
Going into tomorrow’s big clash, Honda Marine holds a two point advantage over Maersk Line but, if each team finishes outside the top five, then discards could change the table.
Whatever happens, there will be a first time champion and the spectators who watch the race will see a great contest, expected to be sailed over the great north-east course.
Frank Quealey/18 Footers