CHANGE OF FORTUNE NEEDED FOR ROOKIE TEAM

As the championship end of the 2020-2021 Australian 18ft Skiff Racing Season moves toward the JJ Giltinan world Championship on Sydney Harbour in March, one team looking for a change of fortune is Birkenhead Point Marine, which is being led by rookie 18s skipper Tim Westwood.

Although Tim is a rookie skipper in the 18s this season, he is definitely not new to the high-speed skiffs or high-speed international racing in big boats, but his first season as an 18s skipper has been affected by bad luck.

Tim Morishima Westwood was born in Australia and educated at primary school in Osaka, Japan.

He began sailing with his father when he was six-years-old but, despite sailing in 29ers and 49ers, says he didn’t start taking it seriously until he sailed in the Australian 18 Footers League fleet as an 18-year-old.

Tim’s first season in the 18s was 2016-2017 when he sailed in the bow on Pedro Vozone’s Haier Appliances skiff for a part of that season, before going on to become a member of Kaijin Team Japan, the Japanese Youth America’s Cup team in 2017.

Following his campaign in the Youth America’s Cup, Tim was back into the 18s for the 2017-2018 Season when he sailed in the bow with former Australian Cherub champion Kirk Mitchel and Daniel Barnett on Noakes Youth/Vintec.

He sailed with the same team again in 2018-2019 before moving on to Shaw and Partners Financial Services with defending Australian 18ft Skiff champions James Dorron and Harry Bethwaite for the 2019-2020 Season.

In 2019, Tim began SailGP Season 1 as a member of the Japanese shore team in Sydney, but after a successful trial, he joined the crew full-time, making his debut at San Francisco SailGP. He was voted ‘most improved team member during the inaugural campaign and was part of the starting line-up as grinder/jib trimmer for Season 2.

From the moment Tim accepted the challenge to skipper an 18, he was out on Sydney Harbour regularly with his team, Alex Chittenden and Ben Psaltis, training for the start of the season.

Things were on track for the trio until Alex dislocated his shoulder in the week leading up to the first race on October 11. This was obviously a massive blow to the new team as it took on the might of the Australian 18 Footers League fleet.

Racing each week with a variety of replacement sheet hands, before Alex was able to get back in action, was then followed by the loss of Ben Psaltis late in November.

As the League’s fleet went into the Christmas-New Year break, the Birkenhead Point Marina team was struggling from the lack of a consistent crew, but over the past two weeks a new continuity has helped restart the team’s challenge.

Felix Daverio has sailed each race with Tim and Alex and the results have begun to move forward. In Race 5 of the NSW Championship, Birkenhead Point Marina was more than competitive and held second place behind Winning Group at the first windward mark.

The team is being fully supported by second year sponsor Birkenhead Point Marina, which is a world acclaimed marina, and the first marina on Sydney Harbour to be awarded 5-gold anchor platinum status and highly accredited Global Gold Anchor Scheme.

Marina Manager Philip McGowen is positive about the sponsorship association with the iconic class.

“I like the history of the 18ft Skiffs and everything that goes with it. I love the club and the way they set the skiffs up in the park next door and the team work that goes into every race.”

“The sponsorship has also given us good advertising and marketing opportunities by getting our name out on Sydney Harbour every Sunday afternoon. Word travels fast in the marina industry and everyone on the harbour knows we are proud sponsors of one of the 18ft Skiffs.”

“We encourage all our boat owners to get out each Sunday afternoon and watch the 18ft Skiffs Race. It’s something different and knowing the boys are doing their best for Birkenhead Point Marina is something special.”

The Birkenhead Point Marina team will line up against 17 other top 18ft Skiff combinations in Sunday’s two races (Races 2 & 3) of the Australian Championship on Sydney Harbour.

Defending Australian champion tech2 (Jack Macartney, Charlie Wyatt, Lewis Brake) is favoured to retain the title after winning the NSW Championship on Sydney Harbour last Sunday.

Despite the favouritism, there are several strong challengers for the 2020-2021 national crown, particularly Winning Group (John Winning Jr., Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton) and Smeg (Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge, Trent Barnabas).

Spectators can follow the racing on board the club’s spectator ferry, however due to the COVID-19 policy, numbers are limited. Booking online through the club’s website www.18footers.com is essential. https://www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/spectator-ferry/

For those unable to make it out onto the water, the club’s live broadcast team will be on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action. Live streaming is available at www.18footers.com by clicking on the ’18 Footers TV’ link.

Follow all the club’s racing throughout the 2020-2021 Racing Season:

Club Website www.18footers.com
Twitter @18skiff
Instagram @18skiff
Facebook International 18Ft Skiff

Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.