Rookie Rag & Famish Hotel 18ft Skiff racing team of Harry Price, Gus Williams and Harry Hall achieved an amazing result in the extremely strong westerly winds that battered the race course when it took out Race 5 of the NSW 18ft skiff Championship against an experienced 20-boat fleet on Sydney Harbour today.
The young team was one of a few which survived (without a capsize) when a 25-30 knot squall hit the fleet as it was sailing downwind on the long leg from Kurraba Point on the northern side of the harbour to the Rose Bay bottom mark in the south.
The official result gave the race to Rag & Famish Hotel victory by one minute 43 seconds from the current JJ Giltinan world champion Michael Coxon and his Smeg team of Matt Stenta and Zac Barnabas.
Noakesailing (Josh Porebski, Ed Powys and Leanard Takahashi) was a further one minute 12 seconds back in third place, followed by Burrawang-Young Henrys (Simon Nearn), Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis) and Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Steve Thomas).
At one point midway through the race on the nearly deserted harbour, when the massive squall hit the leaders as they raced from Kurraba Point to Rose Bay, it looked more like high-speed chaos than a state championship race of talented skiff sailors.
John Winning’s Yandoo had led the race at Kurraba Point but Michael Coxon’s Smeg was only metres behind Yandoo as the pair began a short, but highly exciting spinnaker dash at the peak of the gust, which unfortunately for both ended in a capsize only metres apart in the middle of the harbour.
Each crew could then do little but watch as the then third-placed Rag & Famish Hotel sped past them to ultimately go on and win the race.
Finport Finance won the start and was the early race leader as the fleet raced downwind, but it was the series leader Yandoo which led from Smeg, Burrawang-Young Henrys, Rag & Famish Hotel, Shaw and Partners Financial Services, Noakesailing, Finport Finance, Lazarus Capital Partners (Marcus Ashley-Jones) and Tech2 (Jack Macartney).
With three races in the championship still to be sailed in the new year, and each team’s worst performances in the championship to be discarded, the progress point scores to date have Yandoo in the lead with a total of 8 points, followed by Tech2 on 9, Noakesailing on 10, Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis) 20, Shaw and Partners Financial Services 21 and Rag & Famish Hotel on 24 points.
Strong performances in today’s tough conditions has Finport Finance (Keagan York) next on 25 points followed by Burrawang-Young Henrys on 37.
Rag & Famish Hotel’s championship victory also gave the team victory in the Australian 18 Footers League’s Clubhouse Trophy race, held in conjunction with Race 5.
Racing at the Australian 18 Footers League will go into recess over the Christmas-New Year holiday period and will return on January 16 with Race 6 of the NSW Championship.
Spectators can follow the race on board the club’s spectator ferry, however due to the COVID-19 policy, numbers are limited. Booking online through the club’s website www.18footers.com is essential. http://www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/spectator-ferry/
For those unable to make it out onto the water, the club’s live broadcast team will be on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action. Live streaming is available at www.18footers.com by clicking on the ’18 Footers TV’ link.
Follow all the club’s racing throughout the 2021-2022 Racing Season:
Club Website www.18footers.com
Facebook International 18Ft Skiff
By Frank Quealey / Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.