Main photo: Yandoo, 2023-24 NSW 18ft Skiff champion. Photo by SailMedia

Andoo and Finport Finance shared the race honours, but it was the Yandoo team of John ‘Woody’ Winning, Fang Warren and Lewis Brake who became the 2023-24 NSW 18ft Skiff champions at the conclusion of the eight-race series on Sydney Harbour today.

The Yandoo crew’s consistency throughout the series, in a wide variety of conditions, proved to be the winning factor and the victory was well-deserved.

Yandoo completed the championship with a total of 15 points, followed by Andoo (John Winning Jr, Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton) on 21, Put Your Name Here (Kirk Mitchell, Andrew Stephenson, Daniel Barnett) on 22, Finport Finance (Keagan York, Matt Stenta, Phil Marshall) 41, Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price, Josh McKnight, Simon Hoffman) 42 on a count back, and Balmain (Henry Larkings, Fynn Sprott, Flynn Twomey) on 42.

In today’s first race (Race 7), Andoo (Seve Jarvin, Ed Powys and Josh Porebski) led from early in the race and was staging a great battle with Rag & Famish Hotel (Marcus Ashley-Jones) before The Rag’s team made a huge error when they believed the race was over when there was actually still one more lap of the course to sail.

I was unfortunate for the team as it had fought back from a 15s deficit at the weather mark to grab the lead as the two leaders approached the bottom twin marks.

Andoo went on to take the race honours by 38s from the Australian champion Finport Finance team, with the unsponsored Put Your Name Here team a further 51s back in third place.

Yandoo recovered from a quiet first lap to finish in fourth place (which actually sealed her championship victory) ahead Of Balmain and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Jacob Marks).

In the later race (Race 8), Finport Finance came back from a 30s deficit at the half-way mark of the race to defeat Andoo by 43s in a performance which will boost the team’s confidence leading into the 2023-24 Australian Championship on Sydney Harbour in January.

Put Your Name Here was again third, and again 51s, behind the second-placed boat, followed by Yandoo, Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Emma Rankin) and Smeg (Nathan McNamara).

Today’s racing was conducted in perfect 10-14kt Easterly wind conditions but surprisingly there was a lot more action on the course than you would expect in the circumstances.

Race 7 began sensationally with a last-second postponement of the first attempt and a later restart after many of the fleet sailed a long way up what would have been the first beat.

Once underway, Andoo and Rag & Famish Hotel staged a great battle as the two teams raced over the first two laps of the course with no more than 15s separating them at any time.

After trailing Andoo all the way, The Rag finally grabbed a narrow lead as the pair approached the bottom marks, but that’s when The Rag’s team made the mistake of believing that the race was over.

The first beat in the latter race was sensational and six boats approached the weather mark with only secs. separating Yandoo, Andoo, Rag & Famish Hotel, Smeg, Finport Finance and Shaw and Partners.

Andoo raced away on the downwind leg and looked a likely winner with a 30s lead midway through the race, but Finport Finance fought back strongly over the second half of the race to score a 43s win.

The Rag team’s day didn’t get any better as the skiff capsized shortly after rounding the weather mark on the second lap and she was forced to retire.

The Australian 18 Footers League’s racing goes into a break over the Christmas-New Year period and will resume on Sunday, January 14 when the League will conduct Race 1 of the Australian 18ft skiff Championship.

Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.