It was a soggy start to the 2020 JJ Giltinan, and the forecast was looking fresh to frightening, with the fleet opting for the number 2 rig, and some even being extra cautious sailing with a reef in the main. But while the rain set it, the breeze disappeared, and it was a flukey southerly course that would set the tone for this edition of the championship.
The kiwi Honda Marine team (Dave McDiarmid, Matt Steven, Brad Collins), who won the 2018 and 2019 JJ Giltinan 18′ Skiff Championship, had a solid start to the 2020 regatta taking the first gun of the series.
But it didn’t come easy for the team who struggled around the course even though they had a great start after the initial general recall.
Mainsheet hand Matt said “the race felt like a scrap with very in consistent breeze but we were happy to come out with a good result.”
Helmsman Dave said “it felt like we were going around in circles, 1st, 5th, 1st, 5th, 1st, 3rd then back to 1st. Lucky for us the race finished at that point.”
The youngsters on Maersk Line (Peron Pearse, Eli Liefting and Harry Clark), had an unfortunate start getting hooked on another boat, starting the race on the back foot. But that didn’t stop the team from fighting their way back, and eventually they clawed their way to 13th overall, a great result in testing conditions.
Peron, who controls the fun sticks at the back of the boat said “it was a tough day to start the regatta. We got caught up with other boats in the first couple of legs but we were happy to work back into the pack by the end of the race.”
18′ Skiff veteran Alex Vallings and his C-Tech team, Sam Trethewey and Matt Coutts, didn’t have the best start to the regatta finishing 17th.
“We were having a good race up until we decided to have a swim at the bottom mark. Oh well, it’s another day of racing tomorrow!” said Alex.
Check out the official report from Frank Quealey…
Defending champion Honda Marine team of David McDiarmid, Matt Steven and Brad Collins began their attempt to win their third consecutive JJ Giltinan Championship when they scored a come-from-behind win in Race i of the 2020 championship on Sydney Harbour today.
It wasn’t until the seventh leg of the nine leg course that Honda Marine finally reached the lead then go on to score a 39s victory over Shaw & Partners Financial Services (James Dorron, Harry Bethwaite, Tim Westwood), which had led for most of the first half of the course.
Current Australian champion Tech2 (Jack Macartney, Charlie Wyatt, Trent Barnabas) showed good downwind speed on the two long spinnaker runs from the Clark Island mark to Obelisk, but lost vital time while leading into Obelisk and eventually dropped back to come home a further 1m3s behind Shaw & Partners.
Winning Group (Seve Jarvin) struggled a touch with a reef mainsail as the expected strong southerly wind faded during the race, but still managed to finish in fourth place, ahead of Smeg (Micah Lane), URM (Marcus Ashley-Jones) and Finport Finance (Keagan York).
Vintec (Kirk Mitchell) continued to show a big improvement over the skiff’s early season form and finished in eighth place ahead of Noakes Blue (Yvette Heritage) which sailed a great race throughout the long course.
The predicted conditions were 26-28-knot southerly winds and early in the day there was concern in the rigging area about the race going ahead, but when the race got underway there was no sign of the winds, which eased after the rain arrived. By race-end the wind had faded even more and were extremely light.
Sean Langman’s Noakesailing team grabbed the lead at the first windward mark west of Clark Island, closely followed by Winning Group, Noakes Blue, Finport Finance, The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett), and Honda Marine.
Visibility was a problem for spectators but the downwind action was sensational.
Shaw & Partners Financial Services and Tech2 were fast on the long spinnaker leg of the course to Obelisk where Shaw & Partners now held the lead over Tech2, with Noakesailing back in third place and Honda Marine in fourth.
Working back from Obelisk to the buoy off Shark Island in Rose Bay, Tech2 applied the pressure to Shaw & Partners and was within 20s as the pair headed off on a 2-sail reach back to Athol Bay East to complete the first lap of the two lap course.
Honda Marine had continued to move through the fleet and was now up to third, ahead of URM, Winning Group, Noakesailing and ‘The Oak’.
Over the next two legs of the course, the three leading teams had moved well ahead of the rest of the fleet and the second spinnaker run from Clark Island to Obelisk was spectacular as Tech2 grabbed a narrow lead over Shaw & Partners.
A small problem as Tech2 approached the mark proved costly and the team never recovered, leaving Shaw & Partners and Honda Marine to race for the win.
Honda Marine’s boat speed was excellent in the lighter air and the defending champion took the lead from Shaw & Partners as the two teams battled their way to the Shark Island mark.
There was no change over the final two legs of the course as the race finished in practically no wind at all.
Today’s Race Results and some images from the racing are attached.
Race 2 of the championship will be sailed tomorrow (Sunday, March 15).