Smeg wins opening round of 18 footers

The 2009-2010 18ft Skiff Racing Season began on Sunday when the Australian 18 Footers League staged the traditional Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy race on Sydney Harbour.

Smeg, skippered by Nick Press and crewed by Daniel Phillips and Jim Beck, led for most of the North East course to take line honours by 1m 10s from Bruce Savage's Thurlow Fisher. Gotta Love It 7, Seve Jarvin, finished third just 4s behind Thurlow Fisher.

Southern Cross Constructions (Euan Mc Nicol) was fourth, followed by Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster) and Pure Blonde (James Francis).

The breeze was extremely fickle at the start and the fleet was quickly split into two groups.

Gotta Love It 7, Asko Appliances (Trevor Barnabas), Project Racing (Andy Budgen), Pure Blonde, Kinder Caring, Coldwell Banker New Homes (Mark Kennedy) and Boatmate (Jason Waterhouse) tacked early and led the fleet as they approached Shark Island on the windward leg to the first set of rounding marks.

With the three buoys windward marks in operation, Smeg grabbed the lead from Kinder Caring as each of the two skiffs only had to go to the red (nearest) mark.

Southern Cross Constructions, Gotta Love It 7 and Asko Appliances all had to go to the furthest (white) buoy but still retained their prominent positions.

Smeg continued to lead past the wing mark and was a clear one minute leader from Southern Cross at the bottom mark the first time.

Gotta Love It 7, Asko Appliances, Kinder Caring and Pure Blonde were close behind.

Smeg was sailing beautifully on the second windward leg and doubled her lead as the fleet turned for the next spinnaker run straight back to the bottom mark.

Once again Kinder Caring, Pure Blonde and Thurlow Fisher took advantage of the 3-buoys rounding system to round 'inside' the three backmarkers – Southern Cross, 7 and Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris).

Over the final lap of the course Smeg was untroubled to retain her lead although Thurlow Fisher took time out on the final windward leg. The final run to the finish line was ‘tight' and forced some crews to lower then reset their spinnakers.

As the Thurlow Fisher crew went through this process, Gotta Love It 7 powered home under full spinnaker and just failed by 4s to grab second place from Thurlow Fisher.

– Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League

Jeanneau JY55
Jeanneau JY55
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