Michael Coxon takes an unbeatable lead in 18ft Skiff Championship

Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Trent Barnabas recorded their fourth successive win in the NSW 18 Footer Championship to hold an unbeatable lead in the series with just one more race still to be sailed.

The trio sailed an almost faultless race in extremely difficult conditions to bring their skiff Thurlow Fisher-City home a clear 3m27s winner on Sydney Harbour today. Defending champions John Harris, Scott Babbage and Peter Harris finished second in Rag & Famish Hotel, with Smeg (Hugh Stodart, Daniel Phillips and Jim Beck) a further 2m43s back in third place.

With each team discarding their worst performance to date Thurlow Fisher-City is on three points, Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) 8, Rag & Famish Hotel 9, Smeg 14, Asko Appliances (Archie Massey) and appliancesonline.com.au (John Winning Jr. on 16.

Today's race was sailed in dreadful conditions which made things extremely difficult for all competitors. The wind was constantly changing direction and strength and was so fickle that boats only metres apart were sailing totally different courses.

To try and describe the race would be almost impossible as the positions were changing as quickly as the wind. Rag & Famish Hotel and Pure Blonde (James Francis) won the start but at the first windward mark Thurlow Fisher-City was the leader from Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster).

Collisions, near collisions and a capsize featured at the windward mark and the leaders sped off under spinnaker. At the bottom mark the first time Rag & Famish had regained the lead from Thurlow Fisher-City and the pair set about a match race duel back to the windward mark the second time.

The Rag maintained her lead on the following spinnaker run with Thurlow Fisher-City and Smeg in hot pursuit. Pure Blonde was fourth with Coldwell Banker New Homes (Mark Kennedy), De'Longhi (Simon Nearn), Gill (Dave Alexander) and Asko Appliances also closing in as they brought more breeze along with them.

The typically “crazy” westerly was at its worst near the bow of the ship moored off Point Piper as the three leaders bunched. While Thurlow Fisher-City and Smeg took off, Rag & Famish was left with no wind and her winning chance was gone.

Coxon and his team managed to select the optimum course on most occasions despite the difficulty presented by the conditions.

Some of the spinnaker rides, particularly as the boats raced to the finish, were highly spectacular but none more so than Asko Appliances. In a desperate attempt to lay the finish line the crew of Asko manager to take out the chequered marker buoy “to the roar of the crowd”.

While it was a frustrating day for the competitors, it was a highly entertaining day for supporters due to the constantly changing fortunes.

The concluding race of the championship will be sailed next Sunday with the spectator ferry departing Double Bay Wharf as usual at 2.15pm.

Frank Quealey

Australian 18 Footers League

 

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M.O.S.S Australia
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