Gotta Love it 7 takes invitation race
Gotta Love It 7 grabbed the lead on the third leg of the course and were never seriously challenged before taking victory by 43 seconds from the defending champions Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Nathan Ellis in Fiat.
Third placing went to Omega Smeg (Trevor Barnabas, Daniel Phillips and Jim Beck), a further 35 seconds behind Fiat.
The race was sailed in a moderate south-east breeze with all teams electing to use their bigger number one rigs.
SX Projects, sailed by the young American crew led by Joey Pascali, led the fleet at the windward mark by 20 seconds and the US made it a double with Howie Hamlin’s Wild Oats Chardonnay in second place.
Wild Oats Chardonnay held a narrow lead after the long spinnaker run but Gotta Love It 7 was already flexing her muscles to be close behind in second place.
Fisher & Paykel, Kinder Caring Home Nursing and Thurlow Fisher headed the next group closely followed by a majority of the fleet.
Gotta Love It 7 was ahead after the next windward leg but there were several changes among the leading group.
Kinder Caring Home Nursing (Brett Van Munster) was in second place followed by New Zealand’ s Maersk Mainfreight Owens (Graham Catley), Wild Oats, Omega Smeg, Asko Appliances (Hugh Stodart) and SX Projects.
Gotta Love It 7 held off a challenge by Omega Smeg at the Rose Bay mark and then withstood a late move by Fiat.
Most interest centred on the battle for minor placings as Fiat, Asko Appliances and Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) charged through the fleet after being way back in the fleet at the first windward mark.