The tech2 team of Jack Macartney, Charlie Wyatt and Lewis Brake added another title to their already impressive 2020-2021 list of championship victories when it took out the Australian 18 Footers League's Club Championship series, which concluded on Sydney Harbour today.
tech2 had won the NSW Championship earlier in the season, then last Sunday retained the Australian Championship after a wonderful battle with the Smeg team of Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge and Trent Barnabas.
In the Club Championship, which has been sailed over 15 races during the season, tech2's consistently good performances enabled the team to go into the final race with an unbeatable lead, but today's race was also the final hit-out for next week's 71st JJ JGiltinan Championship.
A light, fluctuating South East breeze tested the fleet throughout the entire race, which also produced several lead changes and a dramatic finish.
After one hour and 40 minutes of racing, the Finport Finance team of Keagan York, Matt Stenta and Phil Marshall grabbed a last minute 29s victory from Winning Group (John Winning Jr., Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton), with Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Jim Colley, Shaun Connor and Harry Bethwaite) 11s further back in this place.
Championship winner tech2 came home in fourth place, followed by Smeg and Noakesailing (Sean Langman).
On overall points in the championship, Winning Group was runner-up to tech2, with Smeg in third place, followed by Finport Finance, Yandoo (John Winning) and Noakesailing.
From the start of today's race the action was close with little between the leaders over the entire course.
tech2 took a narrow lead at the first windward mark in Rose Bay, closely followed by Finport Finance, Winning Group and Lazarus Capital Partners (Lachlan Steel).
The long downwind leg to Robertson Point in the light, fluctuating breeze saw teams making a variety of course selection choices. When the fleet finally reached the mark, Finport Finance had taken the lead from Shaw and Partners, while Lazarus Capital Partners had held her own against the leading teams to hold onto third place.
Another lead change occured on the work back to Clark Island where Shaw and Partners dominated the fleet to become a one minutes leader over Finport Finance. It was the beginning of a great battle between the two teams which would continue until the very end of the race.
At that point Winning Group had worked her way up into third place ahead of tech2, Smeg, Lazarus Capital Partners, The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Jordan Girdis) and Birkenhead Point Marina (Tim Westwood).
The two leaders set spinnakers for the tight reach into Chowder Bay while Winning Group's team elected to sail for most of the leg before setting their spinnaker.
Shaw and Partners mark rounding at Chowder Bay was slow which allowed Finport Finance to again lead narrowly as the fleet set off across the harbour to Rose Bay.
Following a close race between the two leaders, Finport Finance finally opened up a 30secs lead over Shaw and Partners in Rose Bay. Winning Group another 35secs back in third place just ahead of tech2 and Smeg.
The next two legs of the course were across-the-harbour-to Taylors Bay-and-back to Rose Bay where Finport Finance and Shaw and Partners 'clashed again' at the rounding mark.
Finport Finance was on a starboard approach as the two leaders came to the mark together, and Finport took advantage of the situation to retain the lead. Winning Group had made significant time on the leaders and had now made it a three-boat race.
The final outcome was very much in the balance after the final spinnaker run to Robertson Point and even more so when Finport Finance elected to sail an entirely different course to the finish line off Clark Island.
Winning Group and Shaw and Partners sailed to the western side of the course while Finport's team elected to sail a course to the east. A moored naval ship in the middle of the course added another dimension to the puzzle.
Spectators were wondering who had taken the correct course?
Just as Shaw and Partners and Winning Group looked to be the two teams fighting for victory, Finport Finance came roaring home from the east as her two opponents were battling near Clark Island.
It was a great finish to a really exciting race and it definitely wet the appetite for next week's championship.
Today's result sheet is attached, along with images from the race.
The 71st JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship begins on Sydney Harbour next week. Race dates for the championship are:
Saturday March 6 Race 1
Sunday March 7 Race 2
Tuesday March 9 Races 3 and 4
Wednesday March 10 Races 5 and 6
Thursday March 11 Race 7
Saturday March 13 Race 8
Sunday March 14 Race 9
Spectators can follow both races 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
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.
Follow all the club's racing throughout the 2020-2021 Racing Season:
Facebook International 18Ft Skiff
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.