Fiat wins second race in Sydney Harbour 18 Footer League's Club Championship 19/12/06

Michael Coxon, Aaron Links and Nathan Ellis had to come from behind in Fiat to take out Race 2 of the Australian 18 Footer League’s Club Championship on Sydney Harbour on Sunday.

Asko Appliances (Hugh Stodart) led for almost the entire race before an incident late in the course allowed the current world champion crew in Fiat to grab victory. Fiat crossed the finishing line just 11secs ahead of Asko with Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) a further 1min 58secs back in third place.

The win was Fiat’s second in the series to give the team an overall lead with a total of 2 points, followed by Asko Appliances on 4 points and Club Marine and Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin) both on 9 points. The race was staged over an alternative north east course with the start north west of Clarke Island.

It was a relatively even start with Fiat and Rag & Famish Hotel appearing to be best served at the pin end of the line. Asko showed superiority in the light conditions to lead narrowly over Rag & Famish at the windward mark off Nielsen Park, followed by Gotta Love It 7, Fiat, Maytag, Active Air-2UE, Belle and CST Composites.

Just behind that group was Club Marine, guest skippered by former world champion Rob Greenhalgh of the UK, who is in Australian to compete in the Sydney-Hobart.

Asko was brilliant downwind and opened up a 50secs margin over Rag & Famish at the end of the first lap. Gotta Love It 7 and Fiat were next but well behind Rag & Famish.

The second windward leg was even more dominant for Asko as she opened up a massive 2mins 30secs break over The Rag – with Gotta Love It 7 and Fiat close behind.

The next group, headed by CST, Club Marine, Belle, Southern Cross Constructions and Delonghi, were more than another minute back. By lap three, Asko’s lead had been reduced as Gotta Love It 7 also moved through to take over second place. At the third windward buoy Asko’s lead was still 1min 30secs over Gotta Love It 7 with The Rag and Fiat in close pursuit.

Over the next lap Fiat reveled in the slightly fresher breeze to take second place on the final windward leg.

Just a 100 metres from the mark the race was turned upside down when Nial Kinch’s trapeze wire broke and the Asko crewman was thrown into the water. Fiat grabbed the lead as the other crew had to stop the skiff to retrieve him.

The pair staged an exciting duel back to the finish but Fiat held on to take a narrow victory.