For the first time in 10 years, the action-packed12 foot skiffs will return to Sydney Harbour proper when the acclaimed Australian versus New Zealand 12ft skiff Interdominion Championship, conducted by the 12ft Skiff Association and hosted by the Australian 18 Footers League at Double Bay, is held from 3-10 January, 2015.
The Australia versus New Zealand event the Interdominion is hosted by each country in turn. It boasts some big names who found their roots in the class; Aussies Dave Porter, John Winning, Iain Murray, Michael Coxon and Bruce Hewish and Kiwis John Chapple (three times), Bruce Farr, Russell Bowler, Don Lidgard.
Most notable is Kiwi Championship record holder, Tim Bartlett, whose six wins spanned an incredible 18 years, his last in 2001-2002. But as the old saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down, and Bartlett, who will turn 63 on January 18, continues to impress on the race course and is without doubt the veteran to beat with his Frankenskiff.
Entries are open and the Notice of Race has been released online for the 55th 12 Foot Skiff Interdominion Championship which as a development class, continues to blaze a trail and hold the attention of sailors and sailing enthusiasts.
Australians expected to compete include Sydney Sailmakers (Nick Press/Andrew Stevenson), recent Upper Harbour Championship winner, Lincoln Crowne (Jonathon Temple/Richard Jones), Big Foot Custom Trapeze Harnesses (Murray Press/Scott Lanham) and Garde (Brett Hobson/Brad Phillips).
The ‘Press gang’ is synonymous with the class, Nick having won the Championship five times as skipper (three with Brad Yabsley and the latter two with Andrew Stevenson), including four in succession from 2009-2010 to 2012-2013. Dad, Murray, is more often than not at the top end of the leaderboard too.
From across the ditch, defending champions Alex Vallings/Fraser Brown (C-Tech White Performance) who won the event in Wellington, New Zealand, are likely to head up the Kiwi delegation. Vallings has won four times as a skipper and twice as crew for Tim Bartlett, with second placed Glen Armstrong/Roger Barnes also sure to sign on with As Good As It Gets.
The Kiwis proved too strong on home turf in 2014, winning overall and carting off the Teams trophy as well. Best placed Australian crew was Nick Press/Tim Barraclough aboard Gemmell Sails. Murray Press was also part of the Aussie team that is looking to return the favour in its own territory this year.
An Invitation race is scheduled for 2 January 2015, with the first race to be sailed on Saturday 3 January. From there, a race per day is scheduled, with lay days set down for Monday 5 and Thursday 8 January. Entries close on 15 December 2014.
Arguably the toughest skiffs to sail, the ‘12’s’ hit speeds of up to 25 knots with two on the wire and the boats becoming airborne. In January, Sydney Harbour is at its best when the big nor’easters blow in, offering up a thrill and fear factor to participants and spectators alike.
The 12 foot skiffs began racing in Australia around 1914 at Cremorne Club, before moving to Lane Cove Club in 1916. The Silasec Trophy, presented to the scratch winner each year, was donated by Keith Golding of Sealwall Trading Company. He had an association with the Abbotsford Club, and his family continued to provide the winner’s replicas for many years.
For Entry Form, NoR and further information skiff.org.au/events/55th-interdominion-championship/
– Di Pearson