Defending champions Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor and Trent Barnabas brought Thurlow Fisher Lawyers home a convincing winner of Race 1 of the 2015-2016 NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
The team gave a faultless exhibition in the fresh North Easterly wind which took a toll on a number of the highly skilled competitors.
Thurlow Fisher Lawyers finished 2m48s ahead of Gotta Love It 7 (John Winning Jr.), with Smeg (Lee Knapton) just 5s further back in third place.
Compassmarkets.com (Keagan York) finished fourth, followed by Yandoo (John Winning) and Pure Blonde (Nick Daly)
Pure Blonde’s performance earned the team The Mick Scully Memorial Trophy for victory In the handicap section of the race.
Noakes Youth (Ash Rooklyn), Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Smeg, Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) and Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney) were prominent at the start.
The new Smeg skiff was having her first race start and showed some brilliant boat speed to grab the lead as the fleet headed into Taylor Bay.
After establishing a clear lead off Chowder Bay, Smeg’s crew made an uncharacteristic mistake and capsized on the tack.
The talented rookie team on Noakes Youth showed their class in the testing conditions to take the lead from their more experienced rivals.
At the Beashel Buoy windward mark, Noakes Youth was 2s ahead of Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, with a group including Asko Appliances, Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel, Triple M (John Sweeny) and Compassmarkets.com.
Noakes Youth fell foul of the tough conditions and capsized leaving Thurlow Fisher Lawyers to lead the charge downwind to the wing mark in Rose Bay.
Asko Appliances was in second position but, unbelievably after her earlier capsize, Smeg was a close third and closing in fast.
As the fleet completed the first lap of the course off Clarke Island, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers led by 20s with the hard charging Smeg now up into second position ahead of Asko Appliances, Yandoo, Gotta Love It 7 and Compassmarkets.com.
Just as the spectator fleet was settling in for a great battle between Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and Smeg, the Smeg team had another on the wind capsize and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was left with a commanding lead.
The experienced Thurlow team took full advantage of the opportunity and were faultless as they extended their lead over each of the following legs of the course.
While the winner was clear cut, the races for the positions behind Thurlow Fisher were brilliant.
Gotta Love It 7 took second place by just 5s from Smeg, which made another fabulous recovery, and Compassmarkets.com finished fourth only 1s ahead of Yandoo.
With several new crew combinations competing this season the racing will only get better as the new teams get more experience under their belts.
Race 2 of the NSW Championship will be sailed next Sunday and the Australian 18 Footers League will have a Spectator Ferry, leaving Double Bay Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2.00pm, following all the action.
– Frank Quealey