Stand in team win
Evan Walker, Peter Harris and Scott Babbage, teaming together for the first time in Active Air-2UE, showed plenty of skill and strength under pressure to score a narrow victory in race five of the Australian 18 Footer League’s Club Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Walker, normally the sheet hand on the skiff, replaced usual skipper John Sweeny while Babbage moved from the Club Marine skiff for the race.
Active Air-2UE defeated Fiat (Michael Coxon) by just three seconds in a thrilling finish with Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) a further four minutes 56 seconds back in third place.
Fiat’s second placing today still enables the team to retain the lead in the championship with only one more race to sail on 1 April.
Fiat has ten points in the series, followed by Asko Appliances on 17, Rag & Famish Hotel 22, Omega Smeg 28, Ssangyong Yandoo 31 and Gotta Love It 7 on 46.
The race was sailed in a very light Easterly breeze which varied in strength and direction throughout the day. Belle Property (Joe Turner) won the race to the first windward mark with a 35 second advantage over Asko Appliances. Fiat had a disasterous leg and was languishing in 14th place some three and a half minutes from the lead.
Belle was under enormous pressure on the spinnaker run back to the start mark – via the wing mark off Clarke Island. The fleet bunched behind Belle with Rag & Famish in second place ahead of Active Air-2UE, Southern Cross Constructions and Asko. Fiat moved into sixth place at this point after taking a lower course on the run to the leeward mark.
Belle continued to lead the fleet up the second windward leg before the breeze favoured Active Air-2UE near Shark Island. Active Air led Belle by five seconds as the pair set spinnakers for the next run back to the start mark. Fiat made their move and trailed Active Air-2UE by just 15 seconds at the end of the long run.
The pair swapped the lead up the final windward leg before Active Air-2UE opened up a one minute lead with just the short spinnaker run left to the finish.
The experienced Fiat crew tried everything to take the win and were alongside Active Air-2UE for most of a gripping spinnaker battle to the finish line.