Race 1 of the Australian 18 Footers League's Club Championship produced an amazing finish when the current national champion Tech2 team, Jack Macartney, Lewis Brake and Luke Parkinson, grabbed victory just metres from the finish line on Sydney Harbour today.
When John Winning's Yandoo capsized, after hitting the wake of a power boat, on the run to the finish, Finport Finance (Keagan York, Bryce Edwards, Phil Marshall) headed for the finish line narrowly ahead of Tech2 and still looked likely to grab the honours as the two skiffs set for the final gybe.
Tech2 gybed first while the Finport Finance team elected to carry on further. It was a costly move as Tech2 sailed straight for the finish line and won by 13s.
Smeg (Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge, Zac Barnabas) finished a further 39s further back in third place, followed by Yandoo (John Winning), Lazarus Capital Partners (Marcus Ashley-Jones) and Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis).
Prior to the dramas on the final leg of the course, the shifting, gusty ENE breeze produced difficult conditions for the fleet.
Simon Nearn's Burrawang-Young Henrys won the start but Yandoo was soon into the lead as the fleet worked its way from the start at Robertson Points on the north side of the harbour to Rose Bay in the east.
At the windward mark in Rose Bay, Yandoo held a 12s lead over Finport Finance, with a large group headed by Ilve (James Dorron) more than 30s further back.
On the spinnaker run to the wing mark off Clark Island and the following run back to Robertson Point, Yandoo increased her lead but the race for the next six placings held much interest for the spectator fleet as the teams struggled to find the better breeze.
John Winning, Fang Warren and Mike Kennedy were superb in the conditions and opened up a lead of more than one minute on the following windward leg back to Rose Bay. Smeg had edged ahead of Finport Finance, Balmain Slake (Henry Larkings), Tech2 and Lazarus Capital Partners and Fisher & Paykel.
This group had created a further break over the next group which included The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett), Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price), Noakes Youth (Tom Cunich) and Burrawang-Young Henrys.
Over the final lap of the course, Yandoo had sailed even further ahead and looked absolutely certain of victory before the unfortunate incident that cost the team victory.
While today's conditions weren't a true guide to form, there is every indication that this could be one of the closest races at the top end of the fleet for several seasons.
Today's result sheet is attached, along with images from the racing.
For those unable to make it out onto the water, the club's 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.
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