SPRING 18ft SKIFF CHAMPIONSHIP IS DOWN-TO-THE-WIRE
The Australian 18 Footers League's seven-race Spring Championship won't be decided until almost half the 18-boat fleet have crossed the finish line in the final race of the series, on Sydney Harbour next Sunday (18 November).
With all seven races to count for each team in the overall points for the series (there is NO DISCARD in this series), two teams share the lead, but are just four points ahead of some red-hot challengers.
Finport Finance (Keagan York, Matt Stenta, Charlie Gundy) and Rag & Famish Hotel (Bryce Edwards, Rory Cox, Jacob Broom) are equal on 28 points, although Finport Finance holds a psychological advantage with two wins and three minor placings from the six races sailed so far. Only a DNF in Race 4 has been Finport's poor result.
Despite the statistics, the young Rag & Famish Hotel crew has been on the pace throughout the series and recorded five top-4 placings in the first five races.
The Rag's team will also benefit from the 3-Buoys mark rounding (handicap system), which handicaps the fleet throughout the length of the course.
As the fleet's 'Scratch' boat, Finport Finance will have to sail to the furthest windward mark on each of the three laps of the course, while Rag & Famish Hotel has to sail to the nearest, then twice to the middle mark on her three laps of the course.
It will likely produce a catch-me-if-you-can situation as The Rag team should be able to set their spinnaker for the downwind legs while the Finport team are still working to their mark.
Finport skipper Keagan York: "After coming second to Jordan Girdis and his team in last year's Spring Championship, we are really keen to go one better this year."
"Off 'Scratch'. it's an Everest that might be too high unless the conditions are top end in either of our two rigs."
"The Rag boys have improved greatly over the past season or two, and will be very hard to catch as they go around the mid marks."
With the possibility of a 10-15 knot SE wind prevailing on race day, Keagan and his Finport team might get their wish.
Rag & Famish Hotel skipper, Bryce Edwards and his team are eagerly looking forward to the challenge.
"Finport is fast with her #2 rig, while still to plug in the #1 rig this season. We are consistent with both rigs and hopefully this may give us an edge."
"There is no doubt about Finport's impressive form this season and the vast experience of Keagan and his crew."
"We're thinking it may be a light Easterly on Sunday, but I'm sure the forecast will change multiple times between now and the starting gun. It's anyone's guess what conditions or traffic we may get on the water."
"Our sponsor, Pete Calligeros (Rag & Famish Hotel) has been a huge driving force and encourages us to back ourselves."
"His instruction this weekend was to 'have-a-crack' and take it to Keagan and the boys, as anything could happen."
"Regardless of the result on Sunday, we will be pretty chuffed, given the guys we are racing against."
While Finport Finance and Rag & Famish Hotel obviously have the points on the board, each team will have to look out for more than just the other, as the closest two challengers to them on the points table are two of the hottest teams in the fleet.
Smeg (Michael Coxon, Mike McKensey, Ricky Bridge) is in third position on 32 points, followed by Asko Appliances (James Dorron, Paul Montague, Harry Bethwaite) on 43 points.
Two young teams, The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Jordan Girdis, Lachlan Doyle, Tom Quigley) and Vintec (Kirk Mitchell, Daniel Barnett, Tim Westwood) are in equal fifth place on 44 points, followed by the most experienced team in the fleet, Yandoo (John Winning, Mike Kennedy, Cam McDonald) on 46 points.
The Australian 18 Footers League's spectator ferry will follow all the racing action. It will leave Double Bay Public Wharf, alongside the clubhouse and rigging area, at 2pm.
For anyone who can't get out on the water, you can catch the club's live streaming action on https://www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/18-footers-tv/