First blood to McNicol

As 18ft skiffs set sail again in their Australian Championship

Sunday January 11th 2009, Author: Frank Quealey, Location: United Kingdom
18ft Racing resumed on Sydney Harbour today when the Australian 18 Footers League conducted Race 1 of the five race Australian Championship. The Australian Championship is also the final hit out for all local teams as they prepare for next month’s Giltinan Championship, which is traditionally the world’s premier 18ft Skiff event.

Today’s race produced a classic contest in an 18-knot Nor’Easter and provided spectators with pure excitement as the skiffs bounced over the choppy harbour waters. In the end, victory went to the 2005 Giltinan champion Euan Mc Nicol at the helm of Southern Cross Constructions.

Mc Nicol, Trent Barnabas and Aaron Links chased the British Project Racing team led by Andy Budgen for most of the race and only grabbed the lead on the final spinnaker run when the Brits capsized dramatically in the wake of a power boat which crossed their course.

Southern Cross’ winning margin was 25 secs from defending champion Seve Jarvin in Gotta Love It 7, with NSW champion John Harris ( Rag & Famish Hotel) a further 1min 23secs back in third place.

It was a heart breaking result for Budgen and his crew as they had led throughout the entire race before the capsize. A broken mast in the incident forced them to limp home in 16th position, almost 11 minutes behind the winner. All crews had little choice but to rig with their smaller #2 rigs.

Right from the start Project Racing went to the lead and impressed with her superior upwind boat speed.

At the windward mark she led by 10secs from Southern Cross, with Gotta Love It 7 and Rag & Famish close behind. This lead had extended to 20 secs after the spinnaker run back to the start mark where Rag & Famish moved into second place.

While Project Racing retained her lead at the windward mark on the second lap, Southern Cross had gone back into second place ahead of Southern Cross, Gotta Love It 7 and Rag & Famish. 7 took an early gybe, followed by Southern Cross and Project Racing and the trio produced a brilliant spinnaker run battle to complete the second lap. Less than 20secs separated the three teams with Rag & Famish close behind them.

At the final windward mark, Southern Cross led by just three boat lengths from Project Racing. The pair were still locked together when Project Racing met their watery end off Steel Point.

While most interest centred on the leaders, there was some excellent sailing behind this group. Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster) came back from a disappointing start to finish in fourth place ahead of Simon Nearn’s DeLonghi and John Winning’s Yandoo.

Race 2 of the championship will be sailed on Sydney Harbour next Sunday.

Full results:
11 January 2009.pdf

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