Fiat takes invitation race

The home favourites have won the effective practice race at the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff International regatta

Friday February 16th 2007, Author: Frank Quealey, Location: United Kingdom
Defending Champion Michael Coxon and his Fiat skiff crew of Aaron Links and Nathan Ellis took victory in today, Friday's, Invitation Race to the Slam-Winning Appliances JJ Giltinan International 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour.

Fiat crossed the finish line 19 seconds ahead of second placed Macquarie Real Estate (Micah Lane) with John Winning’s Ssangyong Yandoo just one more second back in third place.

The victory wasn’t quite as sweet as usual for the Fiat team as they had to be content with crossing the finish line behind Asko Appliances (Hugh Stodart) which was disqualified for crossing the start line early.
A 10-12knot east-northeasterly wind greeted the fleet at the start with the boats quickly separating into two groups.
Half way up the first windward leg Ssangyong Yandoo led the group on the northern shore while Fiat was leading the group on the right hand side of the course.
At the windward mark the skiffs on the right hand side had won the day with Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) leading Fiat by just ten seconds, closely followed by Ssangyong NZ (Graham Catley), Macquarie Real Estate, Asko, Fisher & Paykel (Andrew Cuddihy) and Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris).
The wind provided exciting downwind racing to the wing mark where Fiat had regained the lead from Gotta Love It 7 with Macquarie Real Estate and Asko all close behind.Unfortunately a broken trapeze hook forced Gotta Love It 7 out at the start mark.
The second windward leg was a great battle between Fiat, Macquarie Real Estate and Asko Appliances as the trio raced with only seconds between them.
Fiat retained the lead at the Beashel Buoy but Asko was dominating downwind to lead back at the start mark the second time.
Asko continued to outpace the fleet over the final lap of the course and skipper Stodart must surely be happy with the boat’s speed going into the championship proper tomorrow.
Fiat hung on to win while the battle for the minor placings provided spectators with the highlight of the day.
Only six seconds separated Macquarie Real Estate, Ssangyong Yandoo and fourth placed Pegasus Racing, skippered by Howie Hamlin of the USA. Fisher & Paykel finished fifth, followed by New Zealand’s CT Sail Battens, skippered by Phil Airey.
Tomorrow will see race one of the championship proper sailed on the harbour starting at 4pm.

Results will follow.

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