Photos; Frank Quealey

Victorious return for Chris Nicholson

Mojo Wines secures the Sydney 18ft skiffs' 3-Buoys Challenge

Sunday December 8th 2013, Author: Frank Quealey, Location: Australia

Chris Nicholson, Mike McKensey and Ricky Bridge won the Australian 18 Footers League’s 3-Buoys Challenge in Mojo Wine after finishing second in today’s final race of the series on Sydney Harbour. It was a great effort by the trio who were consistent, from the back mark, throughout the entire series.


With the best racing conditions this season, the fleet gave a magnificent spectacle for the ferry patrons in the 15-20 knot northeasterly wind.

Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton and John Winning Jr.) finally took line honours by 1m45s from Mojo Wine, with last week’s winner Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy and Peter Harris) another 31s back in third place.

Pure Blonde (Nick Daly) was fourth, followed by Smeg (Nick Press) and Fisher & Paykel (Grant Rollerson).

Final points in the series were: Mojo Wine 25, Yandoo (John Winning 31, Rabbitohs-Kenwood (Brett Van Munster) 33, Smeg 34, Fisher & Paykel 36 and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) 45.

Conditions took a toll on the fleet with only 10 of the 18 starters completing the course.

The race to the first windward mark was close with only a few seconds separating the leading six teams. Appliancesonline.com.au (Micah Lane) showed her best form so far to lead from Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel, with De’Longhi-Rabbitohs (Simon Nearn) third.

The first spinnaker run was all action as Appliancesonline led the charge back to the bottom mark off Clarke Island with Gotta Love It 7, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Smeg, Fisher & Paykel, Coopers-Rag and Mojo Wine in hot pursuit.

Soon after turning for the second windward beat, the race took a dramatic turn as both Appliancesonline and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers were forced to retire with gear failures.

Gotta Love It 7 charged to the lead and it looked as though it may be all over for the challengers.

7 continued to hold a 25s margin over Smeg at the second set of windward marks with Sydney City Marine (David Witt) another 30s back in third place. Coopers-Rag & Famish was also close behind in fourth place.

Another spectacular spinnaker run followed as Smeg began to pressure Gotta Love It 7.

A slight spinnaker mishap on 7 allowed Smeg to take a narrow lead for the first time. With an advantage set to come at the final windward buoys, Smeg was in a particularly strong position to take the race honours. An unexpected swim by the Smeg crew on the final windward leg allowed Gotta Love It 7 to regain the lead which the team held until the finish.

The red machine was driven hard by her crew down the final spinnaker run past the cheering crowd on the spectator ferry.

It was definitely the best race of the season and was a mouth watering glimpse into what we are likely to see during the championship end of the season.

Racing will resume with Race 1 of the Australian Championship on Sunday 12 January.

Full results here

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