The Yandoo crew of John Winning, Jim Beck and Cameron McDonald won a dramatic Race 4 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Winning, who has been sailing 18ft Skiffs for 40 years on the harbour, and his team grabbed the lead shortly after the start and sailed faultlessly to score a narrow victory over Smeg. Yandoo crossed the finish line 15s ahead of Smeg (Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge, Mike McKensey) with Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin, John Winning Jr., Nick Catley) another 18s back in third place.
Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor, Trent Barnabas) finished fourth today, but the placing was good enough to give the defending champion team overall victory. Appliancesonline.com.au (Tom Anderson) was fifth and winner of the Cordukes Clubhouse Trophy. Sixth place went to Lumix, with Brett Van Munster on the helm.
The race produced a near disaster when the highly talented Noakes Youth team (Ash Rooklyn, Josh McKnight, Daniel Nixon) collided with a Manly Ferry. After the race, a shaken Ash Rooklyn realised how lucky his team were and said they simply didn’t see the ferry or hear a warning sound.
A nearby rescue craft quickly grabbed the boys from the water but another rescue boat following soon after hadn’t noticed the move and there was panic as its crew thought the sailors were under water. Fortunately all ended well for the three crewmembers.
The race began in a 12-knot North East breeze with Yandoo and Smeg soon staging a battle for the lead. Gotta Love It 7, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Appliancesonline, The Kitchen Maker (Andrew Chapman), Mojo Wine (James Ward)and De’Longhi (Simon Nearn) were in the next group, but spread across the harbour.
At the Beashel Buoy windward mark, Yandoo held a 20s lead over Smeg with Gotta Love It 7 just 5s further back. With a strong East influence in the breeze the fleet made a spectacular sight as all teams had to gybe at least twice before running in to the Rose Bay wing mark.
There was little change at the head of the fleet over the next two legs of the course but Winning and his team had extended Yandoo’s lead to 45s at the bottom mark off Clarke Island. Gotta Love It 7 was just ahead of Smeg, with Thurlow Fisher Lawyers fourth, followed by Appliancesonline and Lumix.
The next windward leg back to the Beashel Buoy saw Gotta Love It 7 reduce Yandoo’s lead from 45s to 5s and it looked as though the red machine was going to reproduce the all too familiar sight of victory in a North East wind. Winning’s team weren’t about to let that happen and matched 7s boat speed and tactics all the way in a most impressive exhibition of precision sailing.
The Smeg team also produced a great final lap of the course and raced alongside Gotta Love It 7 down the final two spinnaker legs.
Gotta Love It 7 needed to finish second or better to take the overall championship but couldn’t get past the Australian 16 Footer champions on the Smeg skiff, and lost the championship on countback to Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.
Next Sunday’s club race will be for the W.C. ‘Trappy’ Duncan Memorial Trophy. The Australian 18 Footers League will have a Spectator Ferry, leaving Double Bay Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2.00pm, to follow all the action.
– Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League