New Zealand champion Yamaha came from behind to score a brilliant win in Race 1 of the 2017 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, sponsored by The winning Group, on Sydney Harbour today.
No New Zealand 18ft Skiff team has ever won the coveted title on Sydney Harbour but David McDiarmid, Matt Steven and Brad Collins showed today that they have the ability to become the first.
Yamaha defeated Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy, Peter Harris) by 1m13s, with Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon, Trent Barnabas, Dave O’Connor) just 8s further back in third place.
Defending champion, Smeg (Lee Knapton) finish in fourth place, ahead of another New Zealander, C-Tech (Alex Vallings) and Noakes Youth (Ash Rooklyn).
Thurlow Fisher Lawyers took the early lead at the first windward mark off Clark Island but Coopers 62-Rag & Famish showed exceptional downwind speed to grab a narrow lead on the run to Obelisk.
An uncharacteristic capsize by the Thurlow crew allowed Coopers-Rag to open up a clear lead over a group of 8-9 boats as the fleet headed into Rose Bay.
The Rag was one minute ahead of the pack at the Rose Bay mark followed by Yamaha, C-Tech, Thurlow Fisher, Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones), Harken (Howie Hamlin, USA), Smeg, Appliancesonline.com.au (David Witt) and Yandoo (John Winning).
A change of wind direction prevented the fleet from setting spinnakers on the next leg, which became a two-sail reach back to the bottom mark.
When the breeze lightened on the following work back to the Clark Island mark, Yamaha made her move and was closed in on Coopers 62-Rag & Famish.
The two teams engaged in a gybing match on the second long spinnaker run to Obelisk.
The New Zealanders came out ahead and were never in any real danger of defeat as the fleet completed the final three legs of the course.
Racing throughout the fleet was extremely close and the championship should provide a variety of results.
There are at least four or five real chances to win the title and many other teams with a good chance of a race win.
The action will be good and the spectator ferries full.
Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Championship will be sailed tomorrow, Sunday, 26 February, at 3pm.
The Australian 18 Footers League Spectator Ferry will leave Double Bay Public Wharf at 2.30pm.
Race 2 Sunday 26 February
Race 3 Tuesday 28 February
Race 4 Wednesday 1 March
Race 5 Thursday 2 March
Race 6 Saturday 4 March
Race 7 Sunday 5 March
A spectator ferry will follow each of the races in the championship, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf alongside the clubhouse, at 2.30pm on each race day.
All races will be live streamed from the Camera Cat and the drone, a world's first. Head to 18footers.com to watch the race live or catch up later. You can also follow all the action on the International 18ft Skiff Facebook page and @18skiff on Twitter.
– Frank Quealey