September 14, 2017

2017/18 Season Preview

With less than a month to go till the start of the Australian 18 Footers sailing season, the excitement is building for another big summer of racing. The 2017/18 racing season will see changes to the racing formats, some new teams and sponsors and in March the Australian/New Zealand rivalry will be hot.

Racing kicks off on Sunday October 8 with the first race of the Spring Championship. A seven race series of three buoys racing. Then it is straight into the NSW Championship. This five race series will run from November through to January with three weeks off for Christmas.

The Australian Championship starts on January 21, 2018 and will see the fleet completing two races a day. Smeg bowman Mike McKensey is looking forward to the introduction of more racing. “It is a great chance to get some more racing practice in before the JJ Giltinan starts in March,” he said.

The JJ Giltinan Championship runs from March 2 to 11 and will see a fleet of international teams try to steal the trophy from the Australians. The New Zealand team of Yamaha will be leading the charge with some unfinished business from the last two JJ Giltinan Championships. Some unfortunate circumstances has seen Dave McDiarmid’s team finish second for the last two years.

This year’s 18 Footers racing season will be filled with great action and plenty of spectacular capsizes. You can follow all the action online with our live stream, Facebook and Twitter pages. Or head out on the spectator ferry to get right in the middle of the action.

The 18 Footers Spectator Ferry leaves Double Bay Wharf at 2:15pm on race days. Tickets can be bought from reception and children under 14 are free. The spectator ferry is the best way to catch the racing and see Sydney Harbour.

March 19, 2017

Club Championship Race 12

The Smeg team of Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey successfully retained the title of Australian 18 Footers League club champions when the 12-race series concluded on Sydney Harbour today.

Smeg had the championship won prior to today’s race when the team held an unbeatable 26-point lead over the nearest rival, Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney).

A third placing, with Ash Rooklyn replacing Lee Knapton as skipper for the day, gave Smeg a final total of 35 points.

Former JJ Giltinan champion John Harris replaced the regular skipper of Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel and came home sixth today for a final score of 64, followed by Yandoo (John Winning) on 67, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) on 73, Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) 76 and Line 7 (Jonathan Whitty) on 116.

The Club’s Season Point Score (for handicap section of each race throughout the entire season) came down to the last race with Yandoo (John Winning, Cameron McDonald, Mike Kennedy) taking out the coveted title by 17 points from Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.

A 15-knot East North East wind was a perfect finish to the championship and the season’s 18ft Skiff racing for 2016-2017 and gave the team of Keagan York, Matt Stenta and Angus Williams a well-deserved victory in Race 12 of the Club Championship.

Asko Appliances finished just 5s behind the winner, and 1m16s ahead of the third placed Smeg.

With variations in wind direction prior to the start, race officials elected to send the fleet over a 4-lap windward-return course between Taylor Bay and Watson Bay.

Asko Appliances won the race to the first windward mark to lead Compassmarkets by 10s and the pair staged a great battle down the first spinnaker leg.

Brett Van Munster had The Kitchen Maker in third place on the run, followed by Smeg and the rookie Mojo Wine crew, skippered by Jack Sprague.

The two leaders elected to split on the second beat to windward with Asko going to the left hand side on the course while Compass went to the right.

Compass’ move came out a winner as she held a 30s lead over Asko at the Watsons Bay windward mark on the second lap.

Smeg had settled into third place ahead of Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel.

Over the next two laps of the course Compass continued to lead by 30s and 40s at each of the rounding marks and looked set for a reasonable comfortable win.

The strong Asko crew, determined not to go down without a fight, chased Compassmarkets all the way down the final leg and almost pulled off a dramatic win.

Only 5s. separated the two teams at the finish line.

It was an exciting finish to a highly competitive season which also produced a number of quality new, young teams.

We appreciate your support of our 2016-2017 Season racing program and look forward to your continued support throughout an even bigger 2017-2018 Season on Sydney Harbour.

March 17, 2017

Queen of the Harbour

Nicole Johnson became the 2017 Queen of Sydney Harbour when she crewed on Smeg to win the annual Queen of the Harbour, sponsored by Hunt, which was sailed in 17-knots North East wind today.

Smeg (Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge, Mike McKensey, Nicole Johnson) came from behind to take the lead just a few metres from the finish and take the honours by 16s. (Keagan York, Matt Stenta, Angus Williams, Jodie York) led for the entire race, until Smeg’s brilliant finish, and had to be content with second placing.

The young Lumix crew of Bryce Edwards, Rory Cox, Jacob Broom and Emma Sills finished in third place, a further 14s behind Compassmarkets.

Yandoo (John Winning, Michelle Marr) finished fourth, followed by De’Longhi (Simon Nearn, Mariet Sterk) and Ilve (Ollie Hartas, Claire Kowaltzke).

Nicole Johnson was excited with her victory: “I have been trying for a few years and had a couple of disappointments, but this win makes up for the previous bad luck. “

The freshening North East wind and a clear sky was a perfect setting for the queens to enjoy the thrill of 18ft Skiff racing.

Next Sunday’s race is Race 12 of the Club Championship and the handicap section is for the Commodore Cup.

The Australian 18 Footers League will have its usual Spectator Ferry available to follow all the action, leaving Double Bay Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2.15pm. Next Sunday’s race is also the final race of the 2016-2017 Season.

For all the latest 18ft Skiff news and photos go to
There is Livestream race coverage of every race on

February 19, 2017

Club Championship Race 11

With the 2017 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship just six days away, today’s Race 11 of the Australian 18 Footers League’s Club Championship on Sydney Harbour took on even greater importance than usual for the 19 teams contesting the event.

A 10-15 knots ESE wind allowed all teams to set their big #1 rigs.

The recently crowned Australian champion Thurlow Fisher Lawyers team of Micha el Coxon, Dave O’Connor and Trent Barnabas grabbed the lead soon after the start and, but for a brief period on the first spinnaker run, were never headed as they powered to a 2m53s victory.

Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones, Seve Jarvin and Jeronimo Harrison) recovered from a slow first windward leg to finish in second place, 44s ahead of Peroni (Nick Daly, John Walton and Steve Thomas).

Series leader Smeg (Lee Knapton) also came back from a slow start to finish fourth, ahead of Yandoo (John Winning) and Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney).

With only one more race to be sailed in the championship, Smeg leads with 32 points. Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel is next on 58 and Yandoo on 60.

After scoring an impressive win in strong winds last Sunday, then adding today’s victory in totally opposite conditions, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers has ‘firmed’ in the betting on another win for Michael Coxon in the JJ Giltinan Championship.

Thurlow Fisher led by 15s from Peroni at the first windward mark before the long spinnaker run down the harbour.

Skippers had a wide variety of opinions on the best course to take and positions changed continually down the run

Ash Rooklyn left his final gybe on Noakes Youth longer than the other skippers and the move was a winner as Noakes Youth reached the bottom mark with a 15s lead over Thurlow Fisher.

A fouled spinnaker of the Noakes Youth cost the young team at least three positions and they were never able to recover the loss.

Asko Appliances began to claw her way back towards the lead and looked a real threat as she moved to within 35s of Thurlow Fisher Lawyers at the Clark Island windward mark.

The experienced Thurlow crew remained faultless over the next three legs of the course and extended the lead to more than one minute and certain victory.

Peroni, Yandoo and Line 7 (Jonathan Whitty) had a great battle for most of the course and improved their prospects for the upcoming championship.

David Witt returns to skipper next week and New Zealand’s champion Yamaha (Dave McDiarmid) will be out to make up for a one point loss last year.

The 2017 JJ Giltinan Championship will be sailed from 25 February-5 March.
(Sponsored by The Winning Group)

Race Dates:
Race 1 Saturday 25 February
Race 2 Sunday 26 February
Race 3 Tuesday 28 February
Race 4 Wednesday 1 March
Race 5 Thursday 2 March
Race 6 Saturday 4 March
Race 7 Sunday 5 March

A spectator ferry will follow each of the seven races in the championship, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2.30pm on each race day.

February 12, 2017

President’s Trophy

It was a day of thrills and spills for the 18 Footers as they battled across Sydney Harbour in a 22-28knot Southerly today. The conditions tested even the best of sailors as they completed three windward/leewards for the President’s Trophy.

Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor and Trent Barnabas, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers won the race by over five minutes after a flawless performance; they were also one of only two teams not to capsize.

“It was fun out there,” said Coxon after the race. “We got the boat in the groove and felt really comfortable.”

The battle for second came down to who could get across the finish line without capsizing. First it looked like it was going to be Jack Macartney’s Coopers 62 Rag & Famish but a wipeout put them out of the running. John Winning’s experience in the class proved to be the key to success as he safely cruised across the line on Yandoo to take second. Steve Quigley’s finished third, they were the second team not to capsize during the race.

Coopers 62 Rag & Famish managed to get to the finish line to take out fourth. Then the battle was on between Smeg, Lee Knapton, and De’Longhi, Simon Nearn. As the two boats were on their final approach to the line they both wiped out. After recovering, they were both heading towards the finish when Smeg capsized next to the line. De’Longhi came through the take fifth. Smeg drifted across the line while trying to right the boat.

Despite spending a lot of time in the water, there were plenty of smiles around the park after the race. Triple M’s James Ward said “I have never sailed an 18 that fast before.” A lot of the other sailors agreed.

Next week we have another Club Championship race, the final race before the JJ Giltinan kicks off on February 24. The Spectator ferry leaves at 2:15pm and the live stream kicks off at 2:30. If the conditions are anything like they were today you won’t want to miss it.

January 29, 2017

Australian Championship race 4

It was a game of snakes and ladders for the minor podium places today in race four of the 18 Footers Australian Championship in a 9-12knot ESE. Lee Knapton’s Smeg led at the top mark the first time but David Witt’s came through on the long reach from Shark Island to Robertson Point to take the lead.

From there they extended their lead and held on to it comfortably while Smeg and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) battled it out for second. Never far behind was Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) and Coopers 62 Rag & Famish (Jack Macartney).

After the first lap of the course, there was little change. But after the windward return, there was plenty of action at the front of the pack.

Coopers 62 Rag & Famish and Asko Appliances put the pressure on the race leaders and when got stuck during a tack at the top mark, they closed the gap. But Witt’s team was able to hang on to take the win after a long reach and work up to the finish line at Clark Island.

It was a photo finish between Asko Appliances and Coopers 62 Rag & Famish, which saw the red boat take second by one second.

After the race, Macartney was happy with their performance today and ahead of the JJ Giltinan.
“This is only our third time sailing together so it was like the beginning of the season for us,” he explained. “We made a few changes to the big rig this morning and it definitely felt better. It is a real joy sailing with Pete and Sharko, we are great mates and love sailing together.”

After race four, Smeg holds a narrow lead on seven points with one point behind in second and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers in third on nine points. Asko Appliances is on 11 points in fourth with Yandoo on 13 points in fifth.

Results are provisional pending protest following today’s race.

The final race of the series, race five, will be sailed next Sunday, February 5. The regular spectator ferry will follow the racing. It will leave Double Bay Wharf at 2:15, tickets can be bought from reception.

January 22, 2017

Australian Championship Race 2

Race two of the 18 Footers Australian Championship got away today in a 9knot east-nor-easter. The fleet was eager to get started with a number of boats over the line early. Simon Nearn, Grant Rollerson and Niall Kinch on De’Longhi won the start on the port end of the line and didn’t let up from there.

At the end of the first of three windward/leewards, De’Longhi had a solid lead over Yandoo (John Winning) and Smeg (Lee Knapton). It wasn’t an easy battle for the minor places with four boats, who were OCS; Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon), Coopers 62 Rag & Famish (Jack Macartney), Triple M (James Ward) and Compass Markets (Keagan York); mixing it up at the front of the pack the entire race.

While De’Longhi continued to maintain their lead throughout the race, John Winning put the pressure on the leader on the way to the finish. It was almost a photo finish in the end with Winning finishing just nine seconds behind Nearn. Smeg finished a further minute back in third.

Following the race, Nearn gave credit to his crew: “It was a good call from Rollo on the port end of the line at the start. And a great effort for Niall, he hasn’t been on the boat for seven years.”

“It is a good one for the over 40s,” he commented on his win and Winning finishing second.

While the conditions are not Winning’s favourite to sail in, he was very happy with the team’s performance.
“Anytime you do well is always good. These conditions are not ideal, not what I like sailing in but we always seem to do well. It was a beautiful day, great sailing.”

The racing was extremely close with the top six boats finishing within just over two minutes of each other. With the JJ Giltinan just over a month away, the battle for the podium is going to be a close one.

Race three of the Australian Championship will be held on Australia Day, January 26. There will be no spectator ferry but the race will be live streamed. Race four will be held on January 29 and the spectator ferry will leave Double Bay Wharf at 2:15pm. Tickets can be bought from reception.

January 16, 2017

Australian Championship Race 3

Skipper David Witt flew back into Australia only hours before taking out onto Sydney Harbour today, with his teammates Tom Anderson and Tom Clout to win Race 3 of the Australian 18ft Skiff Championship.

For Witt, it was his first race back in an 18 since he skippered the maxi Scallywag into third place in the recent Sydney-Hobart Race.

In an 8-12 knot SSE breeze the race was sailed over a three lap windward-return course set between Taylor Bay and Rose Bay. led from the start, but had to fight off an early challenge by Michael Coxon, Trent Barnabas and Dave O’Connor in Thurlow Fisher Lawyers to win by 39s.

Smeg (Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge, Mike McKensey) was a further 1m23s back in third place, followed by Noakes Youth (Ash Rooklyn), Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney) and De’Longhi (Simon Nearn).

Smeg’s third place in today’s race was enough for the team to retain the championship lead on seven points, followed by Yandoo (John Winning) on 13, on 14, Noakes Youth on 17, De’Longhi on 19 and The Kitchen Maker (Stephen Quigley) on 21.

Race four of the Australian Championship will be sailed on Sunday on Sydney Harbour. The club’s regular spectator ferry will follow all the action, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf at 2.15pm.

January 15, 2017

Australian Championship Race 1

Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey, Smeg, won a close battle for the first race of the Australian Championship in a 10knot easterly. The fleet got off to a slow start after two general recalls with the outgoing tide pushing them over the line.

Lee Knapton, Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey, Smeg, won a close battle for the first race of the Australian Championship in a 10knot easterly. The fleet got off to a slow start after two general recalls with the outgoing tide pushing them over the line.

It was third time lucky as the U flag enticed the 18 boat fleet to stay behind the line. Smeg won the pin end and tacked over to cross the fleet.

Not too long after the start, Asko, Marcus Ashley-Jones, took the lead and held on to it for the first two laps. With Phil Harmer replacing regular crewmember Seve Jarvin, the red boat had plenty of knowledge on board.

“It was an amazing race, very close,” commented Ashley-Jones. “We learnt a lot from the maestro on the sheet, he showed us how they used to do it in the 2000s.”

At the top mark the first time Asko and Smeg rounded simultaneously followed by Thurlow Fisher
Lawyers, Michael Coxon; The Kitchen Maker, Steve Quigley; and Triple M; James Ward. While Asko extended their lead it was a battle for the minor places.

It was a similar sight at the top mark the second time but The Kitchen Maker stole the lead on the run down to the bottom mark. On the final work to windward, Smeg and Asko battled it up the left hand side of the course into Rose Bay. Smeg sailed a textbook leg, staying between Asko and the top mark and extended the lead to over a minute at the top mark. The race was theirs to lose on the way to the finish line at Clark Island.

Asko rounded the top mark second with Thurlow Fisher Lawyers third.

After a quick run to the finish line, Smeg took the first heat of the Championship from ASko and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.

After the race, Smeg sheet hand Ricky Bridge commented: “We just got lucky and hit our stride at the right time, it was good. I want to dedicate this race to our wives and my three-week-old baby Sophie Bridge who came to watch today.”

After leading for most of the race, Marcus Ashley-Jones was happy with how the boat was performing ahead of the JJ Giltinan at the end of February.

“We will have our full squad on for the JJs and that is the target,” he said.
“Iain Murray and Michael Coxon made some changes to the number 1 rig and it showed its true colours today. We are very happy.“

Next Sunday, January 22, is race two of the Australian Championship. The regular spectator ferry will follow the action. The ferry leaves Double Bay Wharf at 2:15pm, tickets can be bought from reception.