Great Britain's Rob Greenhalgh and the RMW Marine team took a dominant position in the the J.J Giltinan International 18 Footers Trophy Championship on Sydney Harbour today
Great Britain’s Rob Greenhalgh and the RMW Marine team took a dominant position in the the J.J Giltinan International 18 Footers Trophy Championship on Sydney Harbour with a 2nd place today leaving them in the lead on 4 points.
The US West Marine skiff crew and defending champions, Howie Hamlin, Mike Martin and Andy Zinn’s hopes for a third historic title faded with the breeze as they slipped from an impressive 3rd to finish 6th in Heat 3 of this afternoon. The result leaves them in 8th position overall on 29 points (without the discard)
Conditions were a complete turn around from Heat 2’s bluster and with virtually no breeze at all, the race committee postponed the start time twice in anticipation of an improvement. When the race finally got underway, 35 minutes after scheduled time, it was barely a zephyr, with 3 knots at best, giving crews a chance to try their big rigs and test their tactical skills. West Marine got off to a reasonable start and was in 2nd position, just behind RMW at the first rounding marker before Greenhalgh’s RMW Marine showed amazing downwind speed in the ultra light conditions to lead the fleet by around 1 and half minutes at the second marker with five times champion Trevor Barnabas on OMEGA SMEG sneaking into 2nd just ahead of Hamlin’s West Marine. It was painstaking to watch as skiffs alternated in catching shifts and then hitting ‘holes’ as they spread the width of Sydney Harbour searching for that vital puff that would improve their position. Approaching the top mark for the second time, West Marine maintained position in the top three with Greenhalgh and Barnabas but it was the wily veteran Barnabas who had the edge to take on the series leader, making up the time deficit and covering his every move and finally taking the lead on the final lap. Hamlin’s West Marine position was changing by the minute, from 3rd to 5th, back to 3rd then out to 4th, as John Harris’ Rag & Famish and Hugh Stodart’s Asko challenged the Californians and set up a thrilling final minutes to the finish line. With Omega Smeg and RMW out in front at the final rounding marker, the battle was on for the vital 3rd place with critical points at stake.
West Marine rounded in 4th, just behind Asko with Rag & Famish at their stern and Tony Hannan’s Maytag lurking. With their huge spinnakers filling with the barest 5 knots of breeze, the four skiffs headed for the line in a tactical battle which saw West Marine come out the worst off, covered at every point and forced high on the track to finally finish in 6th position. After trailing RMW by over 1.5 minutes in the early stages of the race, Barnabas’ Omega Smeg finally won by massive 2 min 36 sec over RMW with Asko 22 seconds further back in 3rd. The results put RMW firmly in first position overall, Asko second, John Winning’s Yandoo in third and West Marine in 8th overall with 4 heats still to sail.