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Honda Marine in a gust after rounding the Shark Island mark during 18ft Skiff JJ Giltinan Championship Race 3 © Frank Quealey
Honda Marine in a gust after rounding the Shark Island mark during 18ft Skiff JJ Giltinan Championship Race 3 © Frank Quealey

Honda Marine wins JJ Giltinan in Sydney

Honda Marine (David McDiarmid) made history today on Sydney Harbour with the first ever win by a New Zealand boat in the JJ Giltinan Trophy.

They finished 6th in the final race, Race 9 after a match race with the only other crew capable of winning, Maresk (Josh Porebski). The win is the first in Sydney since the trophy was donated in 1938, and is the first win for a New Zealand boat at any venue since 1973 – a 45 year drought.

The race was sailed in a 14-16kt NE sea breeze on Sydney Harbour. The two New Zealand crews match raced with Maersk and Honda Marine splitting away on the final beat with Maersk taking the North Shore side and Honda sailing on the south side of the Harbour. When they came back Maersk had worked her way into third place but was well behind the two leaders Finport and Asko, putting in the sort of performance that is expected of the Sydney boats but which has been lacking all series.

The margin between first and third was over 2 minutes at the finish and had remained that way since the boats had turned at the top mark. It was a gap that unless both leaders capsized, Maersk was never going to close.

Holding Maersk back into third place was enough to give Honda Marine the title by just a single point.

The win for Honda Marine came after seven attempts for McDiarmid, including winning four of the seven races sailed in the 2017 event but still only finishing third in controversial circumstances which were only finally decided two weeks before the start of the 2018 regatta.

“We’re pretty stoked with the result,” McDiarmid said on the water immediately after the win.”

“We came close in the last couple of years, we are super-stoked”, he added, before stepping onto the spectator ferry to receive the winners ribbon from 18ft champion Dave Porter.

For the young team aboard Maersk, it was a case of so near but so far. Josh Porebski and his crew came into the event with just 15 days of racing in the 18ft class, being the second-string New Zealand 49er crew, aftre Olympic and America’s Cup champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. They are a low budget team, and needed to use the course map mid-race in the early stages of the nine race event just to find their way around Sydney Harbour.

With the absence/retirement of a lot of top Australian talent the Kiwis caught the Sydney siders napping, as a result of an intense program following the 2017 event, led by class veteran Graham Catley.

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