With a forecast building nor’easter, all bar a few skiffs elected for the 3rd rigs.
It would turn out the right call as the breeze got in and was gusty, reminiscent of a few heats of the interdominions 2 years ago at Lane Cove.
Right from the start two skiff in Gemmell Sails (Murray Press with stand in crew, and son, Nick) and Geotherm (Scott Hobson and Mitch Deane) got a small jump on the fleet.
Lincoln Crowne (Jono Temple and Richard Jones) and Variety (Adam Forbes and Richard Johns) not far behind them, the former skiff lagging slightly after an altercation with Garde (Brett Hobson and Brad Phillips) soon after the start.
The rest of the pack were all mixed together heading down the river, consisting of Vantage Real Estate (Brett Phillips and Jack Winning), Hey Charger (Nick Bernard and Robbie Polec) and Vintage (Cam Gundy and Cam McDonald).
Once out of the river, Gemmell and Geotherm extended their lead on the fleet.
Vantage Real Estate had an early capsize on a strong gust, Vintage and Garde gained on Variety after they were forced to drop their kite to round Clarkes point.
At the bottom mark, the top three remained unchanged, Gemmell, Geotherm and LCC, and Garde getting past Variety.
By the top mark at Manns Point, Gemmell still held the lead, but LCC had now overtaken Geotherm, Garde holding 4th.
Down to the bottom mark again, and Garde overtakes Geotherm. The breeze starting to get very wind at times and many skiffs retiring due to damage. Vantage with a broken rudder fitting and Hey Charge breaking a mast in 4 places and current 5th place Variety also retiring.
The next leg of the race was a hairy two sail across Cockatoo Island from Valentia Street Wharf to Cove Street. Garde had just got by LCC, both skiffs electing to use their spinnakers early on to gain some time on Gemmell. Both were forced to pull the spinnakers back down again to pass the island.
The top 4 positions remained the same for the next lap.
Arrogant Frog (Peter and Steve Hill) and Madonna (Dave Winning and Pete Bevis) where making there way through the fleet, and damage boats, after both having bad starts. Now holding positions 5th and 6th respectively.
Garde gained more time on Gemmell on the next downwind, bring more breeze with them that Gemmell missed.
Up the next work, Garde overtook Gemmell and held a lead at the final top mark.
The breeze continued to freshen and clock to the North.
This forced Garde to down spinnaker around Cockatoo island, Gemmell were able to hold, pass Garde and again lead the fleet.
LCC were a comfortable 3rd, 3min back, and Geotherm a few minutes further back in 4th.
Gemmell led Garde back into the river for the finish, only 10 seconds separating the two. A thrilling finish was on the cards until a rushed tack on board Gemmell caused a capsize, handing the victory to Garde.