February 10, 2019

February 10th 2019 Australian Championship Race 6 & 7 – President’s Cup

The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone and Bing Lee teams shared the spoils of victory in the two races sailed on Day 4 of the Australian 18ft Skiff Championship, on Sydney Harbour today, but Asko Appliances holds the barest of leads going into next Sundays final two races of the championship.

Jordan Girdis, Lachlan Doyle and Tom Quigley sailed superbly to take out Race 6 of the championship in The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone, then went down by just 6s to Bing Lee (Micah Lane, Peter Harris, Scott Babbage) in the following race.

NSW champion, Asko Appliances (James Dorron, Harry Bethwaite, Trent Barnabas) continued the consistency the team has shown throughout the championship to record a second, then third placing today, to hold a one point lead over the hard-charging The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone and Winning Group (John Winning Jr.).

Asko Appliances has a net total of 14 points, followed by The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone and Winning Group on 15, Bing Lee on 17 and Smeg (Michael Coxon) on 18, and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett) on 27 points.

Today’s first race was sailed over a three-lap windward-return course in a 10-12-knots SE breeze, then the following race was over two laps in a 6-7-knots Easterly breeze.

In Race 6, Winning Group held the early lead narrowly from Smeg, The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone, Asko Appliances and Appliancesonline.com.au (Brett Van Munster) at the windward mark.

Winning Group retained the narrow lead at the bottom mark but The Kitchen maker-Caesarstone was making a charge and soon grabbed the lead on the work back into the Rose Bay windward mark.

The final spinnaker run from Rose Bay to the finish in Taylor Bay produced an exciting battle between The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone and Asko Appliances.

The more experienced Asko team tried everything in an attempt to grab a victory, and the pair gybed several times before The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone finally crossed the finish line with only 6s to spare.

Race 7 looked likely to be another victory for Girdis and his TKM team when the skiff held a narrow lead over Bing Lee at the windward mark.

Another close spinnaker battle developed, but this time The Kitchen Maker lost out when they lost wind off Steele Point and allowed three other teams to overtake.

Winning Group were handicapped by a torn spinnaker but were still with the leading group which included Noakes Sailing (Sean Langman) and Smeg.

Bing Lee’s team held a solid lead at the final windward mark but had to withstand a fast-finishing The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone to take the honours by 6s – a similar winning margin to Race 6.

February 2, 2019



Sunday’s Race 5 of the Australian 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour marks the halfway point of the series, but the extreme wind conditions which have dominated the first two days racing have left the likely outcome up in the air.

The almost total lack of wind on Day 1, then a more than 25-knot Southerly wind on Day 2, has made it almost impossible to evaluate the form of the leading contenders for the title.

With many teams carrying a poor result in one race so far, the overall result of the championship could eventually be determined by a race result, a top team would normally consider to be a discard.

The wind conditions and the helter-skelter racing over the short windward-return courses hasn’t been an ideal lead-up to the J.J. Giltinan Championship, which will be sailed on Sydney Harbour from March 2-10.

Sunday’s race takes on even more importance as it is scheduled to be sailed over a full, championship-style course, and will hopefully, give a better indication of how each team is progressing with boat speed over longer windward and downwind legs.

With three of the leading teams, Winning Group, Bing Lee and Asko Appliances, working up new crew members, the clock is ticking in the race towards next month’s JJs, and the challenge expected from the defending champion New Zealand team.

Although still early in the championship, if each team’s discard so far is removed, Winning Group (John Winning Jr.) has a total of four points, to lead by just one point from Bing Lee (Micah Lane) and The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Jordan Girdis) on 5. Asko Appliances (James Dorron) is next on 6 points, followed by Smeg on 7.

Recently crowned NSW champion Asko Appliances is one team still to settle on a final crew line up for the JJs.

Skipper James Dorron isn’t concerned and simply says: “We’re working on it.”

Dorron added: “The boat is going well, and every race is an important test as we lead into the JJs.”

“Last weekend’s gear failure hurt and a new crew in 25-knots wasn’t ideal, but we’re looking OK as we approach the pointy end of the year.”

Looking at Asko’s main opposition at the JJs, Dorron said: “The heavyweight Smeg is going quick and Bing Lee is the other one to watch. Winning Group is also a boat which is improving each week.”

Dorron summed up: “March could bring a bag of breezes, so we just need to have the Asko primed, make good calls, and hope that things will go our way that week.”

While a lot of attention has been on the ‘Big 4’ , the consistent The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone is certainly capable of pushing the more-fancied teams over the remaining five races of the nationals.

The race for sixth place is just as open as the battle for the overall championship, with three teams, Appliancesonline.com.au (Brett Van Munster), The Oak Double Bay (Aron Everett) and Vintec (Kirk Mitchell) all level on 10 points.

The ever-improving Dal Zotto (Jack Sprague) is just four more points behind the trio, on 14 points.

With so much at stake, Sunday’s Race 5 of the Australian Championship is critical to the progression of each team and should provide a wonderful spectacle as the teams go at each other in a predicted, perfect 15-knots North East breeze on Sydney Harbour.

January 11, 2019



The Australian 18 Footers League fleet is back on Sydney Harbour this Sunday when the 18-boat fleet will contest the final two races of the 2018-2019 NSW 18ft Skiff Championship.

After three races so far in the championship, going into Sunday’s final two races, Smeg (Michael Coxon) leads the points table on 10 points, followed by Asko Appliances (James Dorron) on 14, Finport Finance (Keagan York) on 18, Winning Group (John Winning Jr.) 20, Rag & Famish Hotel (Bryce Edwards) 23 and Yandoo (John Winning) on 24 points.

With the points from Sunday’s races to be added, and each boat’s worst performance, over the five races, to be discarded, the championship is still wide open for many teams.

Smeg still holds the the lead on net points so far, but only two points separates the leading four boats, and 8 points separates the top nine teams.

On present form, Smeg appears the team to beat in the NSW Championship and, if the boat can retain her points advantage it will be a great return to the 18s by her skipper, Michael Coxon.

Michael Coxon took a year off from sailing the 18ft Skiffs after he won his third JJ Giltinan Championship in 2017, but his return this season with the Smeg-sponsored team shows he is as sharp as ever and on-track to go for a fourth JJ victory in March.

Michael joined 2016 JJ Giltinan champions Mike McKensey and Ricky Bridge, on Smeg, and the team clicked immediately.

With such a battle for the championship honours, Sunday’s two three-lap windward-return courses are sure to provide spectators with some close, action-packed racing.

Each placing in Sunday’s races will be critical to the overall pointscore for Smeg, Asko Appliances, Bing Lee (Micah Lane), Yandoo, Winning Group and Finport Finance.

The Australian 18 Footers league’s spectator ferry will follow all the racing action, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf at 2pm.

For those who can’t make it onto the water:
Live streaming is available on 18FootersTV

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The Australian 18ft Skiff Championship begins next Sunday (January 20). The championship will be sailed over nine races and will conclude on Sunday, February 17.

The JJ Giltinan Championship will be sailed on Sydney Harbour from March 2-10.

December 16, 2018

2018 NSW Championship – Race 4 -“R.Watt Memorial Trophy”

The Smeg 18ft Skiff team of Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey gave an awesome display of power sailing as they tamed the 25-knot, gusting to 30-knots, North East wind to take out Race 4 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today.

Smeg grabbed the lead from the start and dominated the fleet before going on to record a 2m41s victory.

In a day which required the very best racing skills, the next two teams to finish behind Sme,g were loaded with the very best.

Bing Lee, skippered by former Australian champion Micah Lane, with former Giltinan champions Peter Harris and Scott Babbage in the team, chased Smeg all day but were unable to match the winner’s speed.

Third place went to Winning Group, which had John Winning Jr, and two more Giltinan champions, Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton, in the team.

Winning Group finished 1m14s behind Bing Lee, and more than four minutes ahead of the fourth boat, Ilve (Jonathan Whitty).

Rag & Famish Hotel (Bryce Edwards) came in fifth, followed by Finport Finance (Keagan York), Vintec (Kirk Mitchell), Asko Appliances (James Dorron), The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Aron Everett) and MMM (Tom Anderson).

The other eight entries were forced to retire with a variety of gear failures in the extremely strong wind conditions.

Smeg leads the NSW Championship scores with a total of 10 points, followed by Asko Appliances on 14, Finport Finance on 18, Winning Group on 20, Rag & Famish Hotel on 23 and Yandoo (John Winning) 24.

Smeg’s domination began soon after the race started and a clear lead was established by the time the fleet reached the windward mark at Beashel Buoy.

Bing Lee was already in second place ahead of Finport Finance, Noakesailing (Sean Langman), with Vintec and Winning Group ahead of the rest.

Vintec and Finport Finance had problems on the run and lost several minutes, leaving Smeg, Bing lee and Noakesailing to head the fleet at the end of the first lap of the course.

Winning Group had edged forward to be in fourth place ahead of Ilve and Asko Appliances.

While there was little change in the placings over the final two laps of the course, spectators were treated to some action-packed, high speed racing as the skiffs powered around the course.

Smeg’s crossed the finish line one full leg of the course ahead of Bing Lee, and her crew were more than happy with the performance.

Skipper, Michel coxon was cautious ib his comments, but was happy with the team’s performance in such rugged conditions.

The reslt sheet and images from today’s race are attached.

Today’s race was the final race before the fleet takes a break over the Christmas-New Year period.
Racing resumes on Sunday, 13 January 2019.

For those who can’t make it onto the water to follow the club’s racing:

Live streaming of each race is available on 18FootersTV

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Follow all the club’s racing:
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Frank Quealey

December 15, 2018

Supercup – Battle of Legends

Following a day of consistent rain, a brief thunderstorm, low visibility and light winds, the inaugural Australian 18 Footers League 18ft Skiff Supercup races got underway in poor sailing conditions, but as the weather improved and the breeze freshened, the racing over the three-race series of windward-return short courses on Sydney Harbour this evening was spectacular.

The return to the 18’s by many past JJ Giltinan (world) champions was a highlight of the series and showed that the legends of the class still had a great feel for the skiffs.

Six-times JJ Giltinan champion Trevor Barnabas was outstanding, and reminded spectators of his ability to pick the wind shifts, as he skippered the Smeg team, with Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey, to victory in two of the three races’

In the opening race, over two laps, John Winning (2000 JJ Giltinan winner), Mike Kennedy and Luke Parkinson took an early lead in Yandoo and increased her lead to score a good win over a fast-finishing 2004 JJ champ Rob Greenhalgh in Finport Finance, which narrowly finished ahead of Smeg.

Yandoo continued to impress on the first leg of the course in Race 2, but couldn’t match the windward speed of Smeg and the finishing burst of Finport Finance and fell back to third place, ahead of Vintec (Dan Phillips), Triple M (David Witt) and Winning Group (Seve Jarvin).

With Smeg and Yandoo equal on points going into the final race, over four laps of the course, the breeze freshened which seemed to prove a big advantage for the Smeg team.

Once again, Smeg won the race to the windward mark to lead Winning Group by 10s., followed by The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Lee Knapton), and Finport Finance.

Smeg was still 10s. ahead at the windward mark on the following lap of the course with Winning Group and The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines alongside each other.

As the race progressed, Smeg edged further ahead of the other pair, while Finport Finance retained fourth place and The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone (Stephen Quigley) fifth.

A big change came over the race at the bottom mark on the third lap when The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines capsized and Winning Group lost all chance when the team had spinnaker problems as the crew battled to round the mark.

Many long time supporters were vividly reminded about the 18ft Skiff Racing talent of Trevor Barnabas as the highly efficient Smeg team proved too good on the day.

The event was a great success, particularly despite the dreadful weather conditions, and it looks certain to become a fixture on the Australian 18 Footer League’s calendar

Some images of the day’s racing are attached.

Sunday, 16 December, is Race 4 of the NSW Championship. The club’s spectator ferry will follow all the racing action, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2pm.
The race is the final race before the fleet takes a break over the Christmas-New Year period.
Racing resumes on Sunday, 13 January 2019.

For those who can’t make it onto the water:
Live streaming of each race is available on 18FootersTV

18 Footers TV

Follow all the club’s racing:
Twitter @18skiff
Instagram @18skiff
Facebook 18footers

October 26, 2018

ASKO Appliances eyes the prize


James Dorron and his Asko Appliances team of Paul Montague and Harry Bethwaite were Australia’s top team at the 2018 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship last March, but the trio are determined to turn that performance into victory on Sydney Harbour in March 2019.
After the first two races of the new season, Team Asko Appliances look on target to figure prominently at the JJs with two outstanding exhibitions of boat speed and team work.
In Race 1 of the Spring Championship, Asko Appliances was leading when a mark rounding incident ruined the day, but last Sunday the team put that set back behind it with a totally dominating victory in Race 2 of the championship.
James Dorron is a former two-times winner (and the youngest) of the Australian 16 Footer Championship, who joined the 18s in 2013 as skipper of Mojo Wine.
Although consistently at the ‘pointy-end’ of the fleet, James’ work committments saw a need for him to take a year off from skippering an 18 in 2016-2017.
The lure of sailing an 18 full time, and the determination to win a major championship, led the high-achieving Dorron back into the 18ft Skiffs, as a skipper, in 2017-2018 season.
With the retirement of Marcus Ashley-Jones, the opportunity came up for Dorron to take the tiller of the Asko Appliances-sponsored skiff, and he grabbed it with high expectations.
He assembled a quality team of experience and youth (Paul ‘Monty’ Montague and Harry Bethwaite) and the trio went into 2017-2018 full of confidence,
Despite showing glimpses of boat speed, the Asko Appliances team suffered from a succession of mishaps and gear failures, and the campaign was going south during the first half of the season.
The usually upbeat and confident Dorron was beginning to show signs of disappointment as the Australian 18 Footers League fleet went into recess over the Christmas and New Year period.
“We got the old Channel 7 boat, which was a great platform, but a lot of items were starting to wear or fail.”
“Some bad luck and some poor boat maintenance on my part, together with a bit of rust with me getting back on the tiller, didn’t help.”
Dorron is being a little too hard on himself, but like all sporting champions, once the major championships began in the early months of 2018, Asko Appliances began to show the real quality of the team and the third placing at the Giltinan Championship was the result.
He explained: “We did many upgrades and replaced a whole heap of items on the boat to make it more relaiable.”
“I owe a lot to Paul and Harry, who did a lot on the boat, and spent many late nights throughout the year.”
“After so much time spent on and off the water, we came into the JJs hoping for a top 3.”
“We finished a respectable 3rd, which was pleasing, but we know we could have done better.”
With Dorron’s determination to to win a major 18ft Skiff championship, he put together a team and headed off to Italy where Asko Appliances won the Mark Foy Trophy Championship, on Lake Garda.
“With Monty unable to commit to the series, I approached Trent Barnabas and he was keen to do the regatta.”
Dorron’s team at Lake Garda became Trent Barnabas and Harry Bethwaite.
“It was a pleasure sailing with Trent and Harry.  They’re very experienced and kept the boat powering along all week.”
“It was a fabulous venue in Italy, and to some away with a title was a great achievement for all of us.”
Barnabas and Bethwaite are not only champion sailors in the 18s, but are also the off-springs of two of 18ft Skiff Racing’s most famous champions.
Trent Barnabas is the son of 6-times Giltinan champion Trevor Barnabas and Harry Bethwaite is the son of 4-times Giltinan champion Julian Bethwaite.
Dorron’s focus is now definitely on the 2019 JJs: “With another year under our belts, we would love to be back in the top group.”
“Monty, Harry and I are back this year with a bit more experienceand the boat is in good shape.  It’s up to us now to keep it that way.”
“It would be great to bag one of the big championships for the long time sonsors, Asko Appliances, who have been such great supporters of the 18s.”
Team Asko Appliances will face the next challenge this Sunday when the fleet lines up for Race 1 of the Australian 18 Footers League Club Championship, which will be sailed over one of the courses to be used at the 2019 JJ Giltinan Championship in March.
The club’s usual spectator ferry will follow the race, and all the club’s racing, leaving Double Bay Wharf at 2pm.
Follow the club’s racing:
Twitter:         @18skiff
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October 20, 2018

Alf Beashel memorial trophy

On Sunday (21st October), the Australian 18 Footers League will stage the Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy race on Sydney Harbour.

The annual race for the trophy has a special place in the League’s heart as it honours one of the true legends of the 18ft Skiff Class.

Alf Beashel was one of the first Life Members in 1953 and sailed for many years in the famous ALRUTH skiff.
When the present site of the League’s clubhouse became available more than 50 years ago, there was a shortfall of funds necessary to secure the prime location and it looked as though the opportunity would be lost.

Alf came up with a selfless idea when he suggested that he could retire early from his work and use the superannuation money owed to him to make up the difference.  It was the extra yard which helped the League to gain the clubhouse we all enjoy so much today.

Alf became Secretary of the League and held the position for many years.

The Spectator Ferry for the 3 Buoys race leaves Double Bay wharf at 2.15 pm .

February 19, 2018

JJ Giltinan Championship: De’Longhi

The exciting world of 18ft Skiff Racing has been alive and well on Sydney Harbour for 124 years, but even the strongest of modern day sport is heavily reliant on the sponsorship dollar to maintain the quality of the competition and the level of necessary development to ensure the ongoing future.

18ft Skiff Racing was one of the early sports to introduce naming rights sponsorship to the boats.  Many of the world’s best skiffs racing on Sydney Harbour in the 1960s and 1970s carried the corporate names of some of Australia’s best known corporate and brand names.

In those days, sports sponsorship was relatively new.

In more recent times, every sport, most teams and most of each sport’s champion competitors are vying for the available corporate funding.  The 18s have been fortunate to have some very good long term sponsors who have not only supported the class with funds but have also been enthusiastic personal supporters of the racing.

One such corporate friend of the 18 Footers has been the De’Longhi Group in Australia.

Under the De’Longhi banner, the company has sponsored a number of skiffs since 2003, firstly for Grant Rollerson and later Simon Nearn.  In addition, the group has also sponsored a second skiff for three years under the Kenwood Create More banner, for Brett Van Munster.

The Groups General Manager – Sales and Marketing, Tom Mitchell has been the driving force behind the sponsorship and has taken the association between De’Longhi and the Australian 18 Footers League to a level rarely seen in sport.

Thirteen years of continuous sponsorship in the 18s is amazing, but Tom and De’Longhi have also been responsible for developing a healthy relationship with Rugby League’s famous South Sydney Rabbitohs club, which won the Australian Premiership in 2014 and was World Cup champions in 2015.

As a major sponsor of the Rabbitohs since 2008, Tom introduced the iconic ‘Rabbit’ logo and Red and Green colours to the 18s on both the De’Longhi and Kenwood Create More skiffs.

With Tom’s organisation, the Australian 18 Footers League hosted the Premiership-winning Rugby League club for three 2-hour Pre Season training sessions in the park alongside the club and family functions with the club’s playing and administrative personnel in the club’s dining room.

For the present 2015-2016 Season, Tom’s enthusiasm enlisted another ‘Rabbitoh’ sponsor to the 18s.  This time it is Alcatel, which is sponsoring 1996 JJ Giltinan champion Stephen Quigley under the Alcatel One Touch banner.

At the 2016 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, presently being sailed on Sydney Harbour, both of ‘Tom’s boats’ are performing well and recording consistently good results in one of the most competitive fleets in the championship’s history.

De’Longhi won the Invitation Race last Friday which is a lead in to the championship then yesterday the team finished a close fifth in the 28-boat international fleet.

Australian 18 Footers League President, John Winning, said:  “Sponsorship is critical to all sporting organisations.  We are a club which is pro-active in supporting talented young sailors and have a proud record of being part of the development of Australians who have gone on to become world champions, Olympic Gold Medalists, leading international ocean racing yachtsmen and America’s Cup winners.”

“It’s companies such as De’Longhi and their administrators who have been such an important part of helping the club produce the opportunities for our young sailing talent.”

“Without the support of De’Longhi and our other sponsors much of the talent would not get the opportunity to put Australia’s name in front of the rest of the world.”

February 10, 2018

JJ Giltinan Preview: Noakes

Sean Langman, Managing Director of the Noakes Group, is one of Australia’s best known sailors/yachtsmen with a record of high achievement in numerous classes of sailing boats.

Aside from his wonderful record of achievement on the water, Sean has always been a person with a positive outlook and an ever ready willingness to assist quality young sailors in their quest to achieve results in keeping with their talent.

The 2016 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, sponsored by appliancesonline.com.au, and sailed on Sydney Harbour from 13-21 February, is a perfect example of the Sean Langman philosophy and ability to put together a quality youth team.

Sean has always been a person to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ and has sponsored two teams which will be competing in the upcoming championship.

He will not only skipper his own brand new Noakesailing skiff, with his son Peter and Gerard Smith, but is also the sponsor of the Noakes Youth team, which will be skippered by Ash Rooklyn.

The Noakes Youth team took over the skiff which raced in the 2014-2015 Season as Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.  A few new sails and rigging were added and a group of champion young sailors were recruited for the campaign.

Ash Rooklyn, son of former 18 Footer champion and 18 Footers TV commentator Warwick Rooklyn, has previously had a few races in the 18s, but this is his first full-on campaign.

Joining Rooklyn in the crew are Daniel Nixon, also the son of a former 18 Footrer champion Kevin Nixon, in the bow and Rhys Mara on the sheet,

Before coming into the 18s, Ash was the 2011 and 2012 Australian Match Racing skipper and finished 3rd in the 2013 Match Racing Championship.  He was also 2010 and 2011 Sail Sydney 29er champion (crew) and was 8th at 2010/11 29er World Championships.

Daniel has had two years’ experience in the 18 Footer ranks, including several rides on the well performed Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) and Panasonic Lumix (Jonathan Whitty).  Aside from the 18s, Daniel is the Melges 24 champion at the 2012 North American, 2014 USA Corinthian, and 2015 Australian Championship.

Rhys hails from Coffs Harbour on the Mid North Coast of NSW and comes to the Noakes Youth 18s team from the 49er class.

He won the 2015 Oceania Regatta at Perth in 2015 and was ranked #1 in April 2015.  Rhys was 4th in the 2015 ISAF World Cup (Hyeres) and 5th in the 2015 South American Championships.  In 2014 Rhys was 7th in the ISAF World Championships in Spain.

There has never been a doubt about the crew’s ability and it was only going to be a short time before we saw the real potential of Noakes Youth.

The first half of the season (pre-Christmas 2015) was disappointing for the young team and results were affected by some gear problems and misadventures at critical times.

While results weren’t there on paper, onlookers were impressed by the boat’s speed and the crew’s ability to match any team in the fleet at various stages of races.

The opinion was that this young team had the ‘goods’ and were going to be at, or near, the head of the fleet as they grew in confidence.

At the recently concluded Australian Championship, the confidence came to the surface and the Noakes Youth team finished fourth on 21 points (equal with third placed Triple M).  The team’s best four placings were 2x third places, fifth and tenth.

Ash Rooklyn, Daniel Nixon and Rhys Mara had not only beaten some of the biggest names in the 18 Footer fleet, but Noakes Youth was the leading boat which had not been specifically built for the 2015-2016 Season.

The first three placegetters, ahead of Noakes Youth, in the Australian Championship were Smeg (Lee Knapton), Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) and Triple M (John Sweeny).  All three skiffs were built by Van Munster Boat Builders just prior to the start of the 2015-2016 Season.

Despite the boost to confidence, Rooklyn is taking a very measured approach to the campaign. “I try to look at our first season as a progression and not perfection.  We are just taking each day and race as it comes and try to learn and takeaway as much as we can.”

“While it is a learning and evolving season, we feel if all goes well we could and would be stoked on a top 5 finish at the worlds.”

Sean Langman must feel great satisfaction to see how his young recruits have progressed and the recent results they achieved at the Australian Championship.

While Sean will obviously be looking at the Noakes Youth team’s performance at the JJs, his main focus will be on the performance of his own Noakesailing team, which has also be improving over recent weeks.

Sean took delivery of a brand new skiff for the season and was finally able to sail a competitive skiff with his son Peter.

“Peter and I sail all manner of boats together, from our 1932-built 30ft gaff cutter Maluka through to our ORMA 60 Trimaran Team Australia.  The only thing missing from our sailing was close tactical racing with the spice of speed thrown in,” Sean said.

“The 18s offer great racing and are both exhilarating and difficult to sail well.  My role with Pete and Gerard is to map out a succession plan whereby the younger men can make their way into the class.  I’m thrilled that Pate is still keen to sail with the old man.

“Our tangible goal is finishing at least mid-fleet this season and to improve as we progress through the next few seasons.

“Over recent times, Pete and I have been part of Team Australia Trimaran, which has set two world records; Sydney Hobart in 29 hours and Sydney Auckland in 2 days 19 hours.  The team has also won the coastal classic in New Zealand as well as the Brisbane Gladstone twice on line and corrected.”

Sean’s previous career highlights are Olympic Star Class Australian champion and numerous offshore line and handicap wins with Grundig and AAPT.  He also took a bronze medal at the 49er world title in 1998.

The Australian 18 Footers League’s President, John Winning said:  “Our club is very happy to see Sean back in the 18s in a competitive boat with his son Peter, and Gerard Smith, and we fully appreciate Sean’s efforts to introduce young sailors into the class as it fits perfectly with the Club’s policy of introducing young talent to the 18s to ensure the long term future.”

July 7, 2016

JJ Giltinan Preview: Lee Knapton

Many Australian 16ft Skiff champions have become highly successful 18ft Skiff sailors over the century plus history of 18 Footer Racing on Sydney Harbour, but until now no skipper has ever become both Australian 16ft Skiff champion and JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff champion in the same summer season.

In fact, only three Australian 16 Footer champions have ever gone to win the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship.

‘Billo’ Hayward won the JJ Giltinan Championship in 1948, Ken Beashel won in 1963 and 1968, and Trevor Barnabas, who won five JJ Giltinan Championships between 1987 and 1998.

That may all be about to change at the 2016 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, sponsored by appliancesonline.com.su, which will be sailed on Sydney Harbour 13-21 February, when Lee Knapton skippers the highly fancied Smeg team skiff after recently winning the Australian 16 Footer Championship (Bryden’s Compensation Lawyers) at Hervey Bay in December.

Knapton and his 18ft Skiff sheet hand Ricky Bridge won their fourth consecutive Australian Championship (Lee now has won eight and Ricky five Australian 16 Footer titles) in December then returned to the 18s in January and were reunited with forward hand Mike McKensey.

The trio were superb throughout the Australian 18ft Skiff Championship and had already secured the title before going into the final race of the nationals last Sunday.

The Smeg team took delivery of their new Van Munster built hull only four months ago, but the crew worked tirelessly to prepare the skiff for the NSW Championship in November-December.

A few teething problems, due to a lack of preparation time, saw the Smeg team finish a credible third behind Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and Gotta Love It 7, but showed enough potential to suggest the JJ Giltinan and Australian titles were a definite possibility.

With the Nationals now already in the bag, all eyes will be on the Smeg team at the JJs and whether Lee Knapton will create history with a unique 16 Footer-18ft Skiff double.

Obviously, if Lee become the first skipper to win both then it will also be the first skipper-crew combination, with Ricky Bridge.

Ricky said: “We would be really proud if we become the first skipper-crew combination to win the Australian 16ft Skiff and JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship in the same season, but we are not getting ahead of ourselves”.

“This year’s racing is super close and competitive and there are some talented teams who are all capable of winning”.

Ï think this year’s JJs will come down to the team who is the most consistent across the ranges”.

“We are already proud that we have won both the 16s and 18s Nationals in the one season, and to do the big double would be a great achievement”.

“We are really pleased with how the season has progressed. The support from Smeg and the Club in giving us a new kit has certainly played a big part in how we are performing on the water”.

Ït’s our second year together and our crew work as a team is getting better each week”.

Regardless of whether Smeg wins the 2016 JJGiltinan Championship, or not, much of the success will have to go to the efforts of Mike McKensey and Ricky Bridge.

Four years ago, Mike McKensey approached the Australian 18 Footers League about the management of an 18ft Skiff team, and together with Ricky Bridge has moved the campaign level to its present high standard.

Ricky encouraged his good friend Chris Nicholson to skipper Mojo Wine in the 2013-2014 Season, then last season was instrumental in engaging Lee Knapton as skipper.

Mike McKensey knows that to put a successful campaign together it needs more than just a quick boat: “A boat campaign not only brings together a crew, it brings together our families and sponsors who support us every weekend. This support is wonderful, both when we are on the water and when we come ashore. Always cheering for us and congratulating us regardless of the final result”.

There is one certainty. If the Smeg team wins the championship, the noise from the supporters will be deafening when the crew bring the skiff alongside the ferry to receive the blue ribbon.