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Thunder Down Under: 18's Ripping Up Sydney Harbor & Guest Jessica Watson Takes A Spin

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  • Thunder Down Under: 18's Ripping Up Sydney Harbor & Guest Jessica Watson Takes A Spin

    In a few weeks time, (March 3-13)The JJ Giltinan 18's World will be held in Sydney Harbor and the crews are warming up. This time round Howie Hamlin and company will represent USA along with the Bay Area's own Team Trunk Monkey featuring Skip and Jody McCormick, the only husband and wife team to compete in this, the crown of 18' skiffing! We'll have some additional info on that and the JJ in a few days time, meanwhile enjoy the reporting from Frank Quealy and the Autrailina 18's league:

    Australian Championship – Race 5
    Sunday, 30 January 2011
    Sydney Harbour

    With the Australian Championship already decided in favour of the Thurlow Fisher Lawyers team, today’s Race 5 of the championship on Sydney Harbour almost became a one race test for the upcoming Giltinan Championship in March.

    Although the title was theirs, Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Trent Barnabas had to be content with a second placing today as the defending champion Gotta Love It 7
    proved far too good in the 20-knot North-East wind.

    Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton and Scott Babbage sailed brilliantly from the start and were never on danger of defeat as they steered Gotta Love It 7 to a 38s win from Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.

    Third placing today and second overall in the championship went to Yandoo (John Winning, Andrew Hay and Dave Gibson) which finished a further 52s back.

    Red Claw Wines (Matt Searle) was fourth, followed by Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney) and Panasonic (Jonathan Whitty)

    The final pointscore in the championship was Thurlow Fisher Lawyers on 6, Yandoo 14, Gotta Love It 7 15, Red Claw Wines 15, Project Racing (Andy Budgen) 22 and Smeg (Nick Press) on 24.

    Gotta Love It 7 was amongst the leaders from the start and quickly established a lead on the beat to the windward Beashel Buoy mark.

    Simon Nearn’s De’Longhi-Rabbitohs was in second place, 30s behind ‘7’, followed by Smeg and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, which trailed by 50s.

    US champion Howie Hamlin had CST Composites in fifth place, just ahead of Yandoo.

    The fleet ‘flew’ downwind to the wing mark off Shark Island then to the bottom mark at Clarke Island.

    Thurlow Fisher Lawyers had worked her way through into second place but was still 40s from the lead.

    Yandoo had closed up to third, ahead of Smeg, De’Longhi-Rabbitohs, Red Claw Wines and SLAM, Grant Rollerson.

    On the following windward beat, the same seven teams were leading the fleet, although De’Longhi-Rabbitohs had been relegated to seventh place.

    While Gotta Love It 7 held a commanding lead, the battle for minor placings was gripping as Yandoo and red Claw Wines were also striving for overall results.

    7’s lead was out to 1m20s as she headed for home on the final spinnaker run via the wing mark at Shark Island, while Thurlow Fisher Lawyers finally shook off the challenge from Yandoo to take second place.

    Today’s result sheet is attached, along with images from the race. More images will be published on and

    Next week the Australian 18 Footers League will conduct the Commodore Trophy, with the usual Spectator Ferry leaving Double Bay Wharf at 2pm.

    ************************************************** *************

    The fantastic solo Round-the-World deeds of then 16-year-old Jessica Watson have been well documented. They have been subsequently rewarded by the Australian Government last week when she was awarded the honour of being declared ‘Young Australian of the Year’.

    The following day, Jess took to the water again when she went for a ride on the ‘Ella Bache’ 18ft Skiff on Sydney Harbour and thoroughly impressed the skiff’s regular skipper Owen Vale.

    Vale commented: “Jessica was great. She showed no sign of anxiety or nerves at stepping on the 18 and we didn’t have to ask her twice whether she wanted to take the tiller. She is without doubt a very capable skipper”.

    “Jess loved the sail. Once out on the skiff, she said it was just what she needed. Just to go for a sail on such a beautiful harbour and get away from the cameras and constant public attention”.

    (We still managed to get the attached images as a record of her day on the 18).

    Vale added: “She is a special girl with high powers of motivation and determination. Confident, capable and ambitious, without any trace of arrogance. She also has a wicked sense of humour and I was impressed by her strong social and political awareness”.

    Australian 18 Footers League representatives who met her on the day were equally impressed.

    All Photos © Frank Quealy ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~