A total of 22 18ft Skiffs battled it out on Sydney Harbour yesterday for the Life Members Trophy 16/10/06

After losing the opening race last Sunday, the new 18 footer season finally got under way when the Australian 18 Footers League staged the Life Members Trophy race on Sydney Harbour yesterday.

The race also saw the introduction of a new handicapping system with skiffs being divided into three separate groups and each rounding a different coloured windward mark set approximately 100 metres apart.

Omega Smeg, skippered by Gary Phillips, took the honours with a 1min 55secs victory over Sean Langman’s AAPT with De Longhi (Grant Rollerson) another 9secs back in third place.

Close behind the placegetters were Southern Cross Constructions (Chris Pomfret), SX Projects (Tom Clout) and Noakes Youth (Jacqui Bonnitcha).

A fleet of 22 skiffs faced the starter for the scratch start over the Easterly wind course.

AAPT and Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) were recalled for an early start but Jarvin and his team were disqualified when they failed to return. Langman returned and sailed brilliantly to take out second place overall.

Club Marine (Euan Mc Nicol) and Fiat (Michael Coxon) led early but relinquished the lead when they had to go to the longer distanced ‘white’ rounding buoy. Southern Cross Constructions took advantage of the nearer ‘red’ buoy to grab the lead from Omega Smeg while Maytag (Tony Hannan) led the ‘blue’ group. Southern Cross maintained her lead over the next three legs of the course before Omega Smeg took over after the second lap of the course.

The new system generated many positional changes throughout the race and was declared a winner by the spectators on board the club’s spectator ferry.