Smeg shows winning form
The Andoo 18ft Skiff team of John Winning Jr., Seve Jarvin and Matt Stenta, wrapped up the 2022-23 NSW 18ft Skiff Championship after finishing in third place in today’s action-packed Race 4 of the title on Sydney Harbour.
With two wins, a second placing and today’s third place, Andoo has a total of seven points from the four races.  Each team can discard its worst result and even if Andoo fails to finish next week can finish with her present score.
Even if her nearest rivals, today’s winner Smeg and Yandoo awin the final race next Sunday their final points will not be good enough to take the title away from Andoo.
Today’s race produced some of the best action so far this season and the result was up-for-grabs around the entire three laps of the North-East course.  
At the finish, the powerful Smeg team of Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey won the race by 54s from Lazarus (Marcus Ashley-Jones, Rob Bell and Jeronimo Harrison) with Andoo a further 51s back in third place.
Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Steve Thomas) came home in fourth place ahead of Balmain Slake (Henry Larkings), Burrawang-Young Henrys (Brett Van Munster), The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Alex Marinelli), Yandoo (John Winning) and Birkenhead Point Marina (Kirk Mitchell).
NET progress pointscores after today’s race are:  Andoo on 4 points, Yandoo and Smeg on 9 points, Shaw & Partners Financial Services on 10, Lazarus on 11 and Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price) and Balmain Slake both on 19 points.
With a 15-20 knots North East wind and an ebb tide on hand at the start, Finport Finance (Keagan York) and Lazarus won the start at the boat end of the line.
Finport Finance, a brand new hull having only its first race, showed great boat speed in the conditions and was soon a clear leader as the fleet headed from the start to the top mark at the Beashel Buoy, where she led Yandoo by 20s.
Andoo was squeezed out at the start but soon worked her way through the fleet to be in third place just ahead of Smeg.
The downwind run back to the wing mark off the bottom end of Shark Island produced plenty of excitement for the spectators and as many problems for the teams as they struggled to ride the tight conditions into the rounding marker buoy.
Rag & Famish Hotel capsized alongside Shark Island then Andoo was relegated back into eighth place.
Finport Finance continued to dominate  on the run between Shark and Clark islands before pulling off the course while holding the lead at the bottom mark.
Smeg, Lazarus, The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, Shaw & Partners, Balmain Slake and Burrawang-Young Henrys all showed the skills of their crews to trail the new leader, Andoo, after Finport Finance pulled off the course).
Yandoo was under pressure from Smeg as the two champion teams battled for the lead around the next lap of the course, but on the third windward leg to the top mark Yandoo capsized and her race was over.
The capsize also changed the NSW Championship result.  Had Yandoo held on to win today’s race, she would have been equal on points with Andoo and it would have all come down to next weekend.
Today’s result sheet and progress point scores are attached, along with images from the race.
Race 5 of the NSW Championship, the final race of the championship, will be sailed next Sunday (January 22).
Spectators can follow the action on board the club’s spectator ferry, as they have done for the past 87 years, which leaves Double Bay Wharf alongside the clubhouse at 2pm.
Booking online through the club’s website www.18footers.com is essential, http://18footers.com/18-footer-racing/spectator-ferry/
For anyone who can’t make it out onto the water, the League’s live broadcast team will be out on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action.  Live streaming is available at www.18footers.com by clicking on the ’18 Footers TV’ link.
For all the club’s racing and up-to-date news:
Club Website   www.18footers.com
Twitter   @18skiff
Instagram   @18skiff
Facebook   International 18ft Skiff
For anyone who wants to take a look at Sail Media’s action videos from the 2021-22 season, including the 2022 JJ Giltinan Championship, go to www.18footers.com and click on the ’18 Footers TV’ link.
Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.