by Frank Quealey 12 Nov 05:59 UTC 15 November 2020 18ft Skiff Spring Championship: Brilliant sailing downwind in a 25-30 knot wind to win Race 4 © Frank Quealey 18ft Skiff Spring Championship: Finport Finance has been mainly consistent © Frank Quealey
Going into Sunday’s final race of the 18ft Skiff Spring Championship on Sydney Harbour, the title is up-for-grabs as the veteran Yandoo team of John Winning, Mike Kennedy and Jasper Warren holds a narrow lead over the current Australian champion tech2 team of Jack Macartney, Charlie Wyatt and Lewis Brake.
Yandoo leads by just three points, but the likely outcome becomes more complicated as the two teams will sail to separate windward buoys under the 3-Buoys handicapping system being used by the Australian 18 Footers League in the seven-race series.
Tech2 won Race 4, but has to carry a 13th place from Race 5, while Yandoo has relied on consistency throughout the event to gain the lead.
The predicted 14-knot North-East wind conditions for Sunday are similar to those which prevailed in Race 1.
In that race, tech2 finished in second place behind The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines while Yandoo was granted a third placing, after being rammed by an ‘outside’ craft while hold a safe third place midway through the race.
Tech2 will have to finish three places ahead of Yandoo to claim the title but will have to concede a three times windward mark rounding under the handicap system.
Nearest competition to Yandoo and tech2 is the highly experienced Smeg team of Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge and Trent Barnabas but, as the team trails Yandoo by 12 points, victory would be very unlikely.
Points so far are, Yandoo – 27, tech2 – 30, Smeg – 39, Winning Group (John Winning Jr.) – 43, Bird & Bear (Tom Clout) – 45, Finport Finance (Keagan York) – 54 and Vintec (Tom Cunich) – 56.
The first six teams on the leader board are crewed by very experienced 18ft Skiff sailors, but the performance of the Vintec team deserves high praise as the three crew members are all first-year rookies to the 18s.
Tom Cunich, Alex Marinelli and Flynn Twomey only took delivery of the skiff one week before the season (and Spring Championship) began on October 11 but have sailed with the confidence of more experienced competitors.
In two of the earlier races, the Vintec team recorded fourth and tenth placings but last Sunday was the icing on the cake as the team won its first-ever rac in the 18s and finished third in the other race of the double header.
18ft Skiff Spring Championship: The rookie Vintec team members (l-r) Alex Marinelli, Flynn Twomey & Tom Cunich – photo © Frank Quealey
Maybe even more important than the success last Sunday was the legendary 18-Footer spirit shown by the boys a week earlier.
With southerly winds battering Sydney Harbour eleven of the 18-boat fleet elected to stay ashore. Despite having only four weeks experience in the 18s, the Vintec team made every effort to get to the start. Unfortunately, the team didn’t make it but showed they have what it takes, and that goes well for ultimate success.
Regardless of the outcome in the championship, Sunday’s race should produce spectacular, unpredictable action as there have been five different winners in the six races sailed so far.
18ft Skiff Spring Championship: Tight spinnaker action – photo © Frank Quealey
Spectators can follow the racing on board the club’s spectator ferry, however due to the COVID-19 policy, numbers are limited.
Booking online through the club’s website www.18footers.com is essential. See www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/spectator-ferry
For those unable to make it out onto the water, AeroMedia Live Broadcast team will be on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action. Live streaming is available at www.18footers.com by clicking on the ’18 Footers TV’ link.
18ft Skiff Spring Championship: Tight mark rounding in an early race – photo © Frank Quealey