The Smeg team of Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge and Trent Baarnabas scored its third race win of the 2021 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today to virtually wrap up the series with two more races still to be sailed.
Smeg grabbed the lead early and led for most of the entire race before defeating Noakesailing (Sean Langman, Ed Powys, Josh Porebski) by 19s, with Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Jim Colley, Shaun Conner, Harry Bethwaite) a further 9s back in third place.
The win gives Smeg a net total of 11 points, twelve ahead of second placed Yandoo Winning Group (John Winning Jr., Seve Jarvin, Saam Newton). Noakesailing is now third placed on 27 points, closely followed by Shaw and Partners Financial Services on 29, Bird and Bear (James Dorron) on 30 and Andoo (Marcus Ashley-Jones) on 31.
Another disappointing day for the pre-series favourite tech2 (Jack Macartney) sees the team in seventh place on 36 points.
Needing to defeat Smeg in today's race to maintain pressure on the overall standings, the Yandoo Winning Group was never able to recover after being in fourth place at the first windward mark behind today's three placegetters.
The Marcus Ashley-Jones led Andoo team continued a very consistent regatta to finish in fifth place, ahead of tech2, Yandoo (John Winning), Finport Finance (Keagan York), Bird and Bear and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett), which rounded out the top 10 placings.
With a testing 16-20 knot NE wind facing the 20-boat fleet, a special mention must go to the eleventh placed Noakes Blue team, headed by Yvette Heritage, the only female competitor in the championship. Noakes Blue is also placed twelfth overall with some consistently good performances.
Today's race produced a wonderful first leg from Clark Island to the Beashel Buoy with many skiffs in contention for the lead.
Finally Smeg won the battle and held a 15secs lead over Noakesailing as the fleet headed back downwind to the wing mark off the southern end of Shark Island and then onto the bottom mark back at Clark Island.
The 18 footer rookie team of Shaw and Partners Financial Services continues to impress against their much more experienced opposition and were in third place ahead of Yandoo Winning Group.
Smeg crew's experience was obvious on the run into the wing mark and the skiff held a good lead over the fleet which saw many teams struggle in very tricky conditions.
At the end of the first lap, the four previous leaders were able to hold their placings.
Andoo was in fifth place, followed by a group which included Bird and Bear, The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Jordan Girdis), Yandoo, and tech2, which had lost time and placings on the run into the Rose Bay wing mark.
Smeg and Noakesailing elected to sail different courses at times on the second beat to the Beashel Buoy. Smeg chose the RHS of the course with Yandoo Winning Group while Noakesailing and Shaw and Partners went to the left side.
This time Noakesailing did the better and led Smeg by 5secs as the two champion teams set their spinnakers for the run down the middle of Sydney Harbour to the bottom mark, again at Clark Island.
Smeg gybed soon after the pair rounded the Beashel Buoy and went to the RHS of the course while the rest of the leading group, Noakesailing, Shaw and Partners, Yandoo Winning Group, Andoo and The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone wen to the left.
Midway down the run, Noakesailing held a narrow lead as the pair crossed, but Smeg was able to come back and regained the lead once again at Clark Island as the fleet set off on the final lap of the long three-lap NE course.
This time, Smeg's lead was 20secs over Noakesailing, while the Shaw and Partners team was another 35secs back in third place.
Smeg was able to maintain the lead with the same excellent team work the crew have displayed throughout the regatta.
Noakesailing held on to finish in a well-deserved second place, although the 'rookie' Shaw and Partners put plenty of pressure on Noakesailing over the final spinnaker run between Shark Island and Clark Island.
Race results and progress points, together with images from the race, are attached.
Race 8 of the championship will be sailed Saturday, March 13 on Sydney Harbour .
JJ Giltinan Championship, Race Dates:
Saturday March 13, 2021 Race 8
Sunday March 14, 2021 Race 9
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. https://www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/spectator-ferry/
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.
Other ways to follow the championship are:
Club Website www.18footers.com
Facebook International 18Ft Skiff