Asko Appliances takes control of 18ft Skiff JJ Giltinan International Championship in Sydney 22/2/06

Australian champion Asko Appliances became the new leader in the 18ft Skiff JJ Giltinan International Championship following a near all the way victory in Race 4 of the regatta on Sydney Harbour on Wednesday.

Skippered by Hugh Stodart and crewed by Niall Kinch and Paul Schulz, Asko took the lead nearing the first windward mark and was never headed again to score a narrow win over Howie Hamlin’s Pegasus Racing. Asko crossed the finishing line 25 seconds ahead of Pegasus with Sean Langman’s AAPT a further 51 seconds back in third place.

With just three more races to be sailed, Asko heads the pointscore with a total of 10 points, followed by Casio Seapathfinder (Michael Coxon) on 14, Club Marine (Euan Mc Nicol) 17, Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) 22, Pegasus Racing 32 and Fisher & Paykel (Andrew Cuddihy) on 39.

It was another light breeze which greeted the fleet at the start and it wasn’t long before the 31 competitors were spread out on the long windward leg to the Rose Bay mark. After a tightly bunched race at the head of the fleet, Asko’s superior light wind boat speed enabled her to take a lead of more than 20 seconds from AAPT and Ssangyong Yandoo.

Asko maintained a big lead downwind with CST Composites in second place ahead of AAPT, Ssangyong Yandoo, Active Air and Casio. The national champions were sailing beautifully at the head of the fleet and easily held their lead over the next two legs of the course. AAPT had taken over second place while Pegasus Racing was showing her best form in light wind conditions to be third.

Just when the result looked a foregone conclusion, the breeze freshened 1-2 knots. Pegasus Racing revelled in the new breeze and moved to within 10 seconds of the lead at the final mark.

A tactical duel developed on the short spinnaker run to the finish but the Asko crew held their heads to record their second race win of the regatta.

Prior to Race 4 there were three protests heard by an independent committee which resulted in three skiffs being disqualified from previous races. Noakes Youth was disqualified from Race 1, CT Sailbattens Race 2 and AAPT from Race 3.