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July 5, 2020

DAVE PORTER THE UNLUCKIEST CHAMPION

David Porter became the 1975 JJ Giltinan world 18ft Skiff champion when he skippered KB to a brilliant victory on the Brisbane River, but fortune didn’t always smile on the great sailor.  Aside from the lone 1975 victory, David was runner-up on five other occasions between 1973 and 1979.

Despite his lack of good fortune in some of the regattas, David doesn’t complain and simply says how ecstatic he was to win the 1975 championship with team mates Bob Ferris and Bob Tearne.

“It was the first time any of our crew had won the championship so it was very special to each of us.  We knew we had a good boat and crew and we prepared thoroughly for the regatta on the Brisbane River.”

“We capsized in Race 1 and finished only seventh, but we soon got back on track and won the remaining four races of the regatta.  We partied hard and long afterwards.”

While David was reluctant to say he had bad luck, the fact remains, on at least two occasions it was a matter of how he lost, in 1977 and 1978.

Any recall of his career in the 18s should focus more on the positives of a wonderful career.  In nine seasons, he was six times in the top two placings at Giltinan Championships.

Aside from his results at the Giltinan Championship, David Porter won three Australian Championships, five NSW Championships and numerous Club Championships with the two Sydney 18 Footer clubs.

Like many 18 Footer champions, David joined the class in the 1970-1971 Season after winning the Inter-Dominion 12ft Skiff Championships with Aussie in 1966 and 1967.

With financial help from his father (David, senior) his first 18ft Skiff also carried the Aussie name, which was the name carried by his father on his successful 12 Footer in 1930.

The Aussie hull was designed by John Chapple and beautifully built from cedar veneer by Ian Perdriau.  The bare hull, including decks and buoyancy tanks, weighed 170 lbs.

Although Aussie won two races at the 1971 Giltinan regatta in Auckland, unfavourable conditions resulted in two DNFs, which proved too costly in the overall result.

The following year, the family business supported the campaign and the boat raced as Porter Marine.

It wasn’t until the 1972-1973 Season before KB came along to support his campaign.

Although he doesn’t admit it, Dave Porter and KB was an awesome combination over the next six years.

The 1977 and 1978 JJ Giltinan world Championships must make him wonder about luck, and what might have been.

With a lead of 5½ minutes over Iain Murray (his nearest rival in the championship) at the final rounding mark at Auckland in 1977, Porter and the rest of the fleet elected to sail a safety-first course to the finish in a 20-knot northerly wind and big seas.

Realising he had nothing to lose, Murray pulled off the ‘impossible’ when he decided to sail the direct course to the finish and grabbed the title away from Porter.

As if that defeat wasn’t bad enough, the following year Porter was incredibly unlucky before losing to Murray in a sail-off on the Brisbane River.

After taking a strong grip on the series with wins in each of the first two races, Porter’s KB suffered a broken mast in Race 5 and was forced to use a borrowed rig in the sail-off 

KB took an early lead, but when Iain Murray’s team set a brand new super-lightweight spinnaker on Color 7, the KB crew could do nothing but watch as Color 7 sailed past to victory.

Regardless of his Giltinan Championship disappointments, during the 1970s, David proved himself to be one of the greatest 18 Footer sailors in the sport’s history and, in his gold-coloured KB skiffs, was The King of Sydney Harbour.

PLEASE NOTE:
The Australian 18 Footers League are conducting a survey of current and past 18’s sailors, spectators and aspiring 18ft skiff sailors. We want to ensure that we deliver an exciting sport that accommodates the changing needs and interests of both sailors and spectators. Your ideas and opinions are important to us and we would be most appreciative if you could please spare a few minutes to fill out our survey.
Survey link below:
Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.

 

July 1, 2020

TRAVELODGE A world championship-winning 18 Footer sponsorship

A sponsor who came to the 18 Footers in 1964 was the TraveLodge company which decided to sponsor Bob Holmes, who was a new, young competitor to the class.  The sponsorship association between Holmes and TraveLodge lasted until Holmes retired in 1974, after winning five JJ Giltinan world championships.

 

The TraveLodge involvement with the 18s remains one of the most (if not the most) successful sponsorships ever.

 

It wasn’t surprising as the driving force behind the sponsorship was an incredibly skilful businessman named Alan Greenway, who was the Chairman and Managing Director of TraveLodge.

 

Greenway was building an international motel chain at the time and saw the 18ft Skiffs as an excellent vehicle to promote his business.

 

Mr. Greenway was a leader in the Australian tourism industry determined to make TraveLodge an international name in the USA.  In 1965 he became the first person outside the USA to be honoured when he was elected to the Hospitality Hall of Fame.

 

In 1968, Greenway formed a consortium with Western Hotels and Trust Houses to buy TraveLodge US, which added 400 more TraveLodge operations to the 65 already in Australia.

 

Alan Greenway saw the potential of the 1963 Giltinan world champion Schemer skiff and purchased the boat from her previous owner.  The boat’s former skipper, Ken Beashel had returned to the 16ft Skiffs so Greenway sponsored a newcomer to the 18s, Bob Holmes, who had been sailing in the 16s.

 

The Bob Holmes-Alan Greenway-TraveLodge combination was an instant success.

 

Holmes brought his 16 Footer crew of Hugh Cooke, Bob Hagley and Bob Sheridan with him when he moved into the 18s and the new team won the 1964-1965 Australian Championship and the 1965 JJ Giltinan world Championship, which was sailed in Auckland.

 

The JJs win was dominating as TraveLodge won four races of the five-race regatta.  Only a broken mast in the other race prevented a possible clean sweep.

 

Holmes Successfully defended his title in 1966 with a desperately narrow win over Len Heffernan’s Apex on the Brisbane River.  Holmes had only one win in the 5-race championship compared to Heffernan’s two race wins, but a  DNF for Heffernan in Race 2 gave Holmes a four-point victory overall.

 

Luck left Holmes over the next two JJs when his TraveLodge team was runner to Don Barnett (AMC) in 1967 and Ken Beashel (Daily Telegraph) at Auckland in 1968.

 

The Holmes-TraveLodge team was back on the winner’s list in 1969, but only after a first-ever sail-off in the Giltinan world Championship to become the 1969 champion.

 

TraveLodge and Rod Zemanek’s Willie B finished the 5-race regatta on the Brisbane River in an unbreakable tie.  The two boats exchanged the lead several times in the sail-off before the Holmes-led TraveLodge finally took the title by just 26s.

 

Incredibly, Holmes’ new boat built for the 1969-1970 season failed to qualify for the four-boat NSW team to contest the 1970 Giltinan Championship.

 

Despite the absence of Holmes at the 1970 JJs, the TraveLodge sponsorship was represented by US sailor Roger Welsh, which was the first-ever time the USA had been represented in the premier 18 Footer championship.

 

A pattern of Holmes-TraveLodge winning both the Giltinan and Australian Championships every second year continued over the next three campaigns with victories in 1971 and 1973, while only producing moderate results in 1972 and 1974.

 

The period between 1971 and 1974 became a time of expansion for the TraveLodge sponsorship as brand new boats and teams from New Zealand and USA challenged for the title.

 

Unfortunately, a terminal illness to Roger Welsh ended the US TraveLodge International challenge in 1973, but the Terry McDell’s TraveLodge New Zealand team gave the sponsoring company its sixth Giltinan Championship with a brilliant victory over a red-hot Australian team on Waitemata Harbour, Auckland in 1974.

 

David Griffith, then the current Australian 18 Footer League President John Winning, took over the TraveLodge sponsorship in NSW.  Australian 16 Footer champion Neville Buckley also had a new boat built to race as TraveLodge Queensland.

 

TraveLodge New Zealand continued to contest the Giltinan Championship until 1979 while the company’s focus for the Australian boats changed to promote individual hotels (Pacific Harbour Fiji and Park Royal, Queensland) before the 17-year, six world championship-winning sponsorship ended in 1981. 

 

June 27, 2020

Australian 18Footers League Survey

The Australian 18 Footers League are conducting a survey of current and past 18’s sailors, spectators and aspiring 18ft skiff sailors. We want to ensure that we deliver an exciting sport that accommodates the changing needs and interests of both sailors and spectators. Your ideas and opinions are important to us and we would be most appreciative if you could please spare a few minutes to fill out our survey.

Survey link below:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8PKLHGX

Thank you
Australian 18 Footers League