Join the club with the best views in Sydney Harbour


January 19, 2020

Finport Finance Dominate First 2 Heats

The Finport Finance team of Keagan York, Matt Stenta and David Ewings totally dominated the racing in a 8-12 knots SSE wind to lead the fleet after the two-race opening day of the Australian 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
York and his team won the start with a risky port hand start at the pin end of the line in Race 1 and were rarely challenged as they led at every mark of the three-lap windward-return course set in Rose Bay.
Finport Finance increased her lead at every mark before crossing the finish line 2m27s ahead of tech2 (Jack Macartney, Charlie Wyatt, Trent Barnabas), with Shaw & Partners Financial Services (James Dorron, Harry Bethwaite, Tim Westwood) a further 25s back in third place.
Brett Van Munster’s was near the leaders throughout the race to finish in fourth place, ahead of Noakesailing (Sean Langman), R Marine Pittwater (Marcus Ashley-Jones) and the NSW Champion Winning Group, sailed by Seve Jarvin.
It was an outstanding performance by the winner and onlookers were left to wonder could the Finport Finance team repeat the effort in the latter race.
Team tactics changed for the start of Race 2 as York elected to start at the windward end of the line.  Despite the different tactics, the result was the same as Finport Finance led at the windward mark.
Once again, Finport Finance led at every rounding mark but had to survive a very strong challenge from the Rag & Famish Hotel team (Bryce Edwards, Rory Cox, Jacob Broom) to win Race 2 by a mere 4s from ‘The Rag’. continued her good performance throughout the day’s racing to come home a further 37s back in third place.
The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett) was just 2s further back in fourth place, ahead of tech2, Noakesailing and Winning Group.
Progress points after the two races are: Finport Finance on 2, Tech2 and equal on 7, Rag & Famish Hotel on 10, Noakesailing on 11 and Winning Group on 14.
While a few of the top teams in the fleet were not at their best today, there was a marked improvement in the performances by Rag & Famish Hotel and RMarine Pittwater.
The results have now set a challenge for the Winning Group, Shaw & Partners Financial Services and Smeg teams over the following seven races of the championship.
There is no club racing next Sunday as the fleet will contest the Lord Mayor’s Cup as part of the Australia Day Regatta.  There will be no ferry to follow the race.
It will be back to normal on Sunday, 2 February when Australian 18 Footers League club racing resumes with Races 3 & 4 of the Australian Championship being contested.
Spectators can see all the teams while they are rigging, then follow the racing on board the club’s spectator ferry, which leaves Double Bay Wharf, alongside the rigging area, at 2pm.
Book online through the club’s website
For those who can’t make it onto the water, live streaming is available at and clicking on the ’18 Footers TV’ link.
January 12, 2020

NSW Championship Decider

The Winning Group team of John Winning Jr., Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton didn’t start in today’s final race of the NSW Championship as the team had already won the title title but today’s winner Tech2 showed that the Winning Group may have a tougher battle on their hands when they line up in next week’s Australian Championship on Sydney Harbour.
Jack Macartney, Charlie Wyatt and Trent Barnabas handled the 10-15 knots SSE wind brilliantly in Tech2 to score an easy 2m25s win over the very consistent The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines team of Aron Everett, Courtney Mahar and Charlie Gundy.
Noakesailing (Steven Thomas, Ed Powys, Nathan Edwards) was with the leading group throughout the race and finished a further 31s back in third place.
Birkenhead Point Marina (Tom Anderson) held the lead midway through the first lap of the long Southerly course but faded over the final leg of the course to finish in fourth place, ahead of (Brett Van Munster) and Shaw & Partners Financial Services (Harry Bethwaite).
Final pointscores in the NSW Championship showed that Winning Group finished with a score of five points, ahead of The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines on 12, Shaw & Partners Financial Services on 15, 17, Tech2 on 18 and Smeg (Micah Lane) on 21.
The Oak team continued to show very consistent form and held a narrow lead over Noakesailing, Smeg and Dal Zotto (Jack Sprague) at the first windward mark off Clark Island, but the experience of Jack Macartney and his team proved a winner when they elected to reach with just two sails before setting their spinnaker on the long run to Obelisk Bay.
Tech2 held a 25s lead over Smeg and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines as the trio set off on the work back to the Shark Island mark in Rose Bay.
Tech2 and The Oak tacked first while Smeg and the improving Birkenhead Point Marina sailed a course further to the middle of the harbour.
Smeg suffered gear problems and was forced to retire but Birkenhead Point Marina team were superb as they closed in on Tech2, before grabbing the race lead as the pair rounded the Rose Bay mark.
Once again, the Tech2 team was brilliant as they opened up a 30s lead over Birkenhead Point Marina at the Athol Bay mark, and from that point the result was never really in doubt.
The race for the minor placings was far from settled as The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, Birkenhead Point Marina, Noakesailing and Appliancesonline staged a wonderful battle over the final lap of the course.
The Australian 18 Footer League’s 2019-2020 Season continues next Sunday when the club will stage Races 1 and 2 of the Australian Championship.
Spectators can see all the teams while they are rigging, then follow the racing on board the club’s spectator ferry, which leaves Double Bay Wharf, alongside the rigging area, at 2pm.
Book online through the club’s website
AeroMedia Live Broadcast team will be out on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action.  For those who can’t make it onto the water, livestreaming is available at and clicking on the ’18 Footers TV’ link.
Also follow all the club’s racing throughout the entire 2019-2020 Racing Season:
Club Website   
Twitter                        @18skiff
Instagram                   @18skiff
Facebook                    International 18Ft Skiff
January 9, 2020


When the Australian 18 Footers League’s 2019-2020 Season resumes racing on Sunday, January 12, it will be 35 years since the club celebrated its 50th Anniversary in January 1985 by staging a unique event, which produced, as it’s finale, one of the most spectacular 18ft Skiff races in the sport’s more than 125-year history.


The regatta, ‘The State Bank Gold Cup’, was conducted over the weekends of January 5 & 6, and 12 & 13, and carried total prizemoney of $7,500 as well as a gold cup to the winner.


There were seven races in the event.  The first six races were sailed over specially designed courses on Sydney Harbour.  Prizemoney for the top six placegetters in those races was $5,500.


The final race, The Ocean Challenge, was undoubtedly the highlight of the series.


With $2,000 prizemoney up-for-grabs, 19 boats lined up for the Le Mans-style start on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach.


Skippers had to run to their boats, which were being held ready by the other two crew members, sail around the Palm Beach headland, go to sea, then head south along the shoreline to the ‘Heads’ at the opening to Sydney Harbour.


Once inside the harbour, the 18s had to race to the finish line, which was positioned east of the Sydney Opera House.


It was the first ocean-going 18ft Skiff race ever staged and came with all the fanfare expected from such a unique contest.


Sponsored by the NSW Government’s State Bank of New South Wales, the start followed a spectacular air display over the waters at Palm Beach.  Local television covered the festivities with pre-race interviews, helicopter coverage as the skiffs raced down the coast, over the 26-mile course, and down Sydney Harbour to the finish line.


All that was needed to make the day a total success was a perfect North-East wind to push the skiffs down the coast at top speed.


When the starter sent the fleet away, the organisers’ prayers were answered as the breeze was 15-18 knots from the North-East.


The fleet included some of the greatest names in the history of 18ft Skiff Racing in Australia, including six JJ Giltinan (world) champions: Trevor Barnabas (Chesty Bond), Julian Bethwaite (Prime Computer), Peter Sorensen (Tia Maria), Robert Brown Bradmill), John Winning (Flora Margarine) and Michael Walsh (Stubbies).


Bradmill, Chesty Bond and Tia Maria were the three top skiffs of that season.  Along with Anthony Scali’s Nick Scali Furniture, they were the leaders as the fleet cleared Barrenjoey headland, set their spinnakers and headed south towards Sydney Harbour.


Once clear of the headland, Bradmill stayed close to the shore, Chesty Bond was further away from the shore, and Tia Maria was even further out to sea.


According to Chesty Bond’s skipper, Trevor Barnabas, “We had our #3 rig on while Tia Maria had her bigger #2 rig.”


“Our tactics were to set the spinnaker as soon as we cleared the Barrenjoey headland.  Tia Maria, with the larger rig, headed out to sea before setting a wire luff spinnaker.”


Little separated this leading group before Bradmill broke her rudder off Collaroy, leaving Chesty Bond and Tia Maria to vie for the lead.


Because she was closer to the shore, Chesty Bond’s crew had some anxious moments in the unfamiliar waters.


Barnabas says, “We didn’t know the depth, or if there were rocks, or shallows that stuck out, and at one stage we weren’t confident about clearing Long Reef.”


“Fortunately, the breeze eased slightly and, keeping the boat heeled, we were able to clear it.  We all breathed a sigh of relief once we could see the bottom under us.”


“Despite the nerves off Long Reef, it was the most thrilling ride of my life.”


“Experienced yachting identity, Bill Buckle told us later that he estimated our average speed on the 26ft wide wings was around 20 knots.”


Despite the speed of the ride, there was still another hurdle for the Chesty Bond team to overcome.


Once again, Barnabas and his team were concerned.  “We weren’t going to clear North Head, but as we approached it, the breeze lightened a little and again we managed to be able to clear the cliffs.”


A large group of spectator craft was waiting for the fleet to arrive at the Heads into Sydney Harbour, and they weren’t disappointed when Tia Maria and Chesty Bond arrived with just a couple of boat-lengths separating them.


The NE wind meant that it was going to be a spinnaker run down the harbour, but both teams would have to gybe several times in a match race-style battle to get the victory.


Tia Maria’s team dropped the wire luff spinnaker and changed to the normal #2 spinnaker for the harbour run.


As the two skiffs met, Tia Maria held a two boatlengths lead over Chesty Bond.


Tia Maria, with her #2 rig, had the bigger sails, which was the correct rig for the spinnsker run down the harbour to the finish line just east of the Sydney Opera House.


Barnabas recalls, “Tia Maria was the first to gybe to enter the harbour.  We chose to stay on our course a bit longer because the breeze was lighter under North Head.”


“When we gybed, we had made a gain and were now in front of Tia Maria as we prepared for the run to the finish.”


“We knew Peter Sorensen didn’t like being covered so, when we approached the first cross, we gybed in front of him.  His only was past us was to windward, which he couldn’t do because we luffed him.”


Despite the sail area disadvantage, the Chesty Bond crew were able to stay between Tia Maria and the finish line as the two skiffs raced almost side-by-side down the entire length of the harbour – from the Heads to the Sydney Opera House.


Barnabas added, “Phil (sheet hand) and Adam (bow) sailed faultlessly, and together we were able to gybe and pick the shifts to stay ahead of Tia Maria all the way down the harbour to the finish line, where it was barely 8-10 knots.”


Asked how the Chesty Bond team managed to hold off Tia Maria in the light air near the finish line, Barnabas said, “Both boats were on starboard tacks and still needed to gybe twice to cross the finish line.”


“When Tia Maria gybed, we decided not to gybe in front of her as we thought we would get rolled in the light breeze.”


“We kept on the starboard tack then gybed onto port so the final gybe would be closer to the finish line.  We were able to complete our final gybe and crossed the finish line just ahead of Tia Maria.”


Incredibly, after 1hr43m15s and 26 miles of top speed ocean racing down the coast, followed by a spinnaker match race down Sydney Harbour, Chesty Bond’s crew of Trevor Barnabas, Phil Barnett and Adam South grabbed the honours by just 1s. from Tia Maria’s team of Peter Sorensen, David ‘Big Kite’ Stephens and Mark Peelgrane.