With a 12-15 knot ENE wind prevailing, only four of the 18-boat fleet elected to go with the bigger #1 rig and it was decisive in the Thurlow Fisher Lawyers win.
Thulow’s team of Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor and Trent Barnabas crossed the finish line 32s ahead of second-placed Line 7 (Jonathan Whitty, Aron Everett, Greg Dixon), with Ilve (Ollie Hartas, Mark Muirhead, Adam Bolton) a further 12s back in third place.
The race began sensationally with Appliancesonline.com.au (David Witt) and last week’s winner Triple M (James Ward) recalled for being over the line too early.
Triple M’s crew returned while the Appliancesonline crew were unaware of the recall and continued to sail the course.
For the rest of the fleet, the start was even and there was a close battle for supremacy on the long windward beat from the start off Clark Island to the 3-Buoys marks off the Beashel Buoy.
Smeg (Lee Knapton) was first to the windward marks and led the fleet from The Kitchen Maker (Stephen Quigley), Compassmarkets.com (Keagan York), Asko Appliances (Jeronimo Harrison) and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.
Another group was led by Noakes Youth (Ash Rooklyn), Lumix (Bryce Edwards), Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney) and De’Longhi (Simon Nearn).
Smeg led the fleet down the spinnaker run to the wing mark off the southern end of Shark Island ans was 25s ahead of Compassmarkets.com and The Kitchen Maker as the fleet headed between Shark and Clark islands.
Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was in the next group behind the three leaders, and showed the benefit of the bigger sails when she grabbed third place at Clark Island.
On the next windward beat Smeg continued to lead the fleet but it was apparent that Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was going to be a very strong challenger.
Powered by the big rig, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers dominated the spinnaker run back down the middle of the course from Beashel Buoy to Clark Island and led, unchallenged, for the entire final lap of the course.
Ilve recovered from a slow start and made a strong challenge midway through the race.
The Ilve crew continued to show good pace over the last lap and headed for home just behind Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and just ahead of Line 7.
There was little between Ilve and Line 7 on the spinnaker run to the finish with Line 7 finishing just 12s ahead of Ilve.
The early leader, Smeg finished fourth, ahead of The Kitchen Maker, De’Longhi, Lumix, Compassmarkets.com, Yandoo (John Winning) and Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel.
Only 1m13s separated nine boats in a spectacular blanket finish.
Today’s race was the final race before the Christmas-New Year break.
Racing will resume on Sunday, 8 January with the W.C. ‘Trappy’ Duncan Memorial Trophy
The Australian 18 Footers League will have its usual Spectator Ferry available to follow all the action.
The Spectator Ferry is also available throughout the entire 2016-2017 Season, leaving Double Bay Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2.15pm.
The 2017 JJ Giltinan Championship will be sailed from 25 February-5 March.