The Australian 18 Footers League’s 82nd season of continuous 18ft Skiff Racing got away to a flying start today when the club staged the R. Watt Memorial Trophy 3-Buoys race on Sydney Harbour in a 20-knot plus North East wind.
First up conditions were testing for all teams but the experienced Thurlow Fisher Lawyers were faultless as the skiff powered around the course for an all the way victory. Skipper Michael Coxon and his team of Dave O’Connor and Peter Mackie finally took the honours by 53s from the Giltinan champion Smeg team of Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey. In a spectacular run between Shark Island and Clark Island to the finish line, Nick Daly. John Walton and Troy Botting grabbed third place in Peroni, just 1s ahead of Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones).
Mike Coxon was naturally happy to get the win and satisfied with the boat’s speed. He said the crew also had an added incentive to defeat Smeg. “For’ard hand Peter Mackie is a regular member of Lee Knapton’s 16 Footer champion crew and the pair are very competitive when they are opponents in a race. When we crossed Smeg going up the first beat, Lee called out ‘Jugs are on it’ so we had to make sure we got the prize.
“Pete’s performance over the weekend has been sensational. He sailed a 16 Footer in a 30-knot Southerly yesterday then backed up with us today. Ït was a very satisfying day all around.”
Asko Appliances and Smeg were prominent at the start and soon led the fleet up the windward leg from Clark Island to the set of windward marks near the Beashel Buoy. Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was also close up and grabbed the lead when Coxon elected to sail to the right hand side of the course and picked up an Easterly slant. Asko Appliances had a brief, but costly, ‘swim’ on approach to the windward mark
Sean Langman’s Noakesailing was also with this group and just ahead of a hard charging bunch as the fleet approached the 3-Buoys marks. Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was the first team to set a spinnaker for the run to the Shark Island wing mark. Langman took Noakesailing into second place, closely followed by John Winning’s Yandoo and Triple M (James Ward).
Asko Appliances and Smeg went to the furthest of the three buoys and fifth and sixth respectively on the spinnaker run. Triple M capsized on the run into the Shark Island mark in Rose Bay.
By the end of the first lap Thurlow Fisher Lawyers had established a commanding lead. Yandoo had moved up into second place, followed by Smeg, Asko Appliances, Noakesailing, Noakes Youth (Ash Rooklyn), The Kitchen Maker (Stephen Quigley) and Peroni.
It was a tough initiation for the rookie teams and they deserve congratulations as all three managed to complete the course in very testing conditions.
The Major A. Frizelle Trophy race will be sailed next Sunday.
The Australian 18 Footers League will have its usual Spectator Ferry available throughout the entire 2016-2017 Season, leaving Double Bay Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2.15pm, to follow all the action.
The teams for the new season are located on the Australian 18 Footers League website at: http://www.18footers.com.au/sailing/racing-season/teams.html
– Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League