Two-time America's Cup winner Jimmy Spithill has had immediate success in his maiden Coastal Classic appearance, helping Frank Racing take line honours in Russell this afternoon.

Frank Racing crossed the finish line at 4.06pm, completing the 119 nautical mile race in just over six hours.

It was the seventh time in eight years the red and white sails of Simon Hull's trimaran have taken out the race, but this time they faced one of their tightest races yet, with Frank Racing locking horns with Beau Geste for much of the sprint northwards.

Rounding Cape Brett the two boats were virtually neck and neck, until they sailed into a hole. With the wind pressure dropping to around four knots, it soon became clear Frank Racing's race record of 5 hours, 13 minutes and 21 seconds would not be threatened, but it set up an intriguing tactical battle to the finish line.

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With the highly competitive Spithill, the "token Australian" on board, serving as tactician on board Frank Racing were able to edge Gavin Brady's Beau Geste crew over the final stages of the race.

The rest of the 150-strong fleet continue to trickle into Russell, with some of the smaller boats not expected to arrive until the early hours of the morning.