2023-24 Spring Championship – Race 5

Smeg's downwind speed was a major factor in her Race 5 victory (SailMedia)

Trophy:  Chris Webb Memorial Trophy   

Race Sponsor:  Finport Finance 

Sunday, 5 November 2023   

Sydney Harbour   

 The Smeg 18ft skiff team of Nathan McNamara, Jed Cruikshank and Jack Taylor used its superior downwind speed over the concluding leg of the course to grab a last minute victory in Race 5 of the Australian 18 Footers League’s 2023-24 Spring Championship on Sydney Harbour today.

A brand new unsponsored skiff, presently names “Put Your Name Here’ (Kirk Mitchell, Andrew Stephenson and Daniel Barnett) led from the start of the race but was unable to hold back the challenge of Smeg as the two teams raced gybe-for-gybe downwind to the finish line off Robertson Point.

Smeg crossed the finish line only 10s ahead of Put Your Name Here after 70 minutes of sailing over a three-lap windward-leeward course in a variable 10-14knots Easterly breeze.

Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Emma Rankin, Cam McDonald and Tom Quigley) continued to impress with another consistent performance, and was also closing in fast on the first two boats and finished just 8s further back in third place.

Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis), another of the consistent performers in the Spring Championship, finished in fourth place, ahead of The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Jacob Marks) with Andoo (John Winning Jr) in sixth place. 

With only one more race left to be sailed in the series (on Sunday week, November 19), The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines leads with a total score of 24 points, followed by Yandoo (John Winning) on 27, Fisher & Paykel 28, Smeg 31 together with Balmain (Henry Larkings) 31 and Shaw and Partners Financial Services on 32.

Although weather conditions were far from good, the fleet continues to produce some of the best racing seen in the Spring Championship for several seasons and has showcased the talents of many young skippers and crew who have joined the 18 footer class in 2023-24.

 The Put Your Name Here (PYNH) team  had a brilliant start to the race and within a short time had opened up a substantial lead as the fleet made its way from Robertson Point to the first set of windward 3-buoys in Rose Bay.

The racing for the placings behind the leader was tight but PYNH was 45s ahead of series leader The Oak as spinnakers were set for the long run back to the bottom mark.

Shaw and Partners, Smeg and Sixt (Nathan Edwards) were in the next group behind The Oak, with Fisher & Paykel, Lazarus (Jack Ferguson), Balmain and Burrawang-Young Henrys (Brett Van Munster) not far behind that trio.

At the bottom mark at the end of the first lap, PYNH’s lead had extended to 1min over The Oak, followed by Shaw and Partners, Fisher & Paykel, Smeg, Sixt and Balmain, while Andoo led the scratch boats, in eighth place.

The 3-buoys system allowed Put Your Name Here to extend her lead over The Oak at the following weather mark in Rose Bay when her team took advantage of going to the blue buoy while The Oak’s team had to travel further to the white buoy,

The handicapping system was working as Smeg (going to the blue buoy) managed to edge ahead of The Oak (white buoy) as spinnakers were set for the run back to Robertson Point.  Shaw and Partners (also the blue buoy) benefitted from the handicap and was also putting pressure on The Oak.

Smeg’s downwind speed on each lap of the course was outstanding and the team was a clear second placings after the run and the fleet was headed back to Rose Bay for the final time.  The leaders 2m30s advantage at Rose Bay had been reduced to 1m45s and the race was on to see which team would grab the honours.

Again the 3-buoys handicap system was going to be a major factor as Put Your Name Her and The Oak would have to go to the white buoy while Smeg and Shaw and Partners had only to go to the lesser distance of the blue buoy.

While PYNH went around the white buoy 1m10s before Smeg went around the blue buoy, the distance on the water between the two boats was minimal and it was a two-boat gybing battle as each team tried to out-think the other in a classic 18 footer finish – all while Shaw and Partners continued to close in fast just a short distance away.

It was the fifth excellent race of the new season, now all teams will be able to relax a little next week when the club stages a non-pointscore event in which each boat will carry a fourth hand – representing the boat’s sponsor.

Racing in the Spring Championship will resume with the final race of the series to be staged on Sunday November 19.

Today’s result sheet, Progress Point Scores and SailMedia’s images from the racing, are attached.        


Don’t forget, you can join the Australian 18 Footers League’s ‘Alternative Ferry in the League’s clubhouse and enjoy all the racing action LIVE on the massive screen broadcasting the SailMedia Livestream camera cat coverage of the racing, and there will be special drinks and food offers for those attending who wish to support their favourite team.           

It’s a really unique way to celebrate the great racing we have seen at the start of the 2023-24 season and all 18 footer supporters are welcome to come down to the clubhouse ‘Alternative’ Ferry.      

If you can’t get out onto Sydney Harbour to see the action-packed racing, or come to the club’s ‘Alternative’ Ferry’, you can catch it LIVE by going to the Club’s www.18footers.com website and clicking on the TV link 

Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.