18ft skiff Club Championship final this Sunday

One of the Australian 18 Footers League’s most important events of the season comes to a conclusion this Sunday, February 20 on Sydney Harbour with the final race of the 2022 Club Championship.

The championship recognises the most consistent performances in the club’s fleet, as no team is allowed to discard its worst performance from the 17 races.

Tech2 on a kite reach.
The Tech2 team has the 18ft skiff Club Championship in its grasp. Pic – 18ft skiffs

2021 club champion Tech2 team of Jack Macartney, Charlie Wyatt and Lewis Brake, has once again proved itself as being able to maintain consistently high-performance standards over an extended period and holds an almost unbeatable lead going into Sunday’s final race.

While the importance of winning the championship is undoubted, there is a lot more at stake for all teams as Sunday’s race is the last championship-style race before the 2022 JJ Giltinan Championship is contested on Sydney Harbour from March 5-13.

After winning the NSW Championship earlier in the year, Tech2 had to be content with finishing in fourth place, behind Andoo (Seve Jarvin, Matt Stenta, Sam Newton), Smeg(Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge, Zac Barnabas) and Noakesailing (Sean Langman, Ed Powys, Josh Porebski) at the Australian Championship, which concluded last Sunday.

With no discards allowed, there are only two teams capable of taking the 2022 title.  Tech2 and the Yandoo team of John Winning, Fang Warren and Mike Kennedy.

Yandoo on a kite reach.
John Winning, skippering Yandoo, during the Australian Championship final last Sunday. Pic – 18ft skiffs

Tech2 holds a 20 point lead over Yandoo and it will take a dramatic problem for the Tech2 team to prevent it from winning a third consecutive Club Championship.

Skipper Jack Macartney has already won three Club Championships at the League.  His previous victory was in 2015 with Rag & Famish Hotel.

John Winning is also a two times winner of the title.  The second of John’s victories came in 2011 with a previous Yandoo skiff, while his first victory, incredibly, came 44 years ago with Pacific Harbour Fiji in 1978.

Despite the limited number of potential series winners, the race will hold enormous interest as the top teams attempt to gain a psychological advantage over their main rivals under JJs conditions.

Jarvin, Coxon and Langman are sure to be buoyed by their performances at the nationals and will be out to consolidate whatever confidence they gained by defeating Macartney and his team, which had been so successful up to the nationals.

Rag & Famish on a kite reach in waters that are white capping, Harbour Bridge behind them.
The rookie Rag & Famish team on the way to victory earlier in the championship. Pic – 18ft skiffs

One of the most pleasing aspects of the League’s 2021-22 season has been the impressive displays by many of the new teams, particularly Rag & Famish Hotel, which is skippered by former Youth World Match Racing champion Harry Price.

The Rag has been able to ‘match it’ with the top teams throughout the entire NSW and Australian Championships and is presently fifth in the Club Championship.

Another strong ‘rookie’ team is Shaw and Partners Financial Services, which is skippered by the 2008 29er World champion Steve Thomas.  Ironically, Thomas is now in competition with his world champion crewman Fang Warren, who is now a part of the Yandoo team.

Two of the more established/experienced 18 footer teams expected to come into contention as the Giltinan Championship begins are Keagan York’s Finport Finance and Marcus Asley-Jones’ Lazarus Capital Partners.

Previous Club Championship winners at the League include some of 18 footers’ all-time great competitors since the club was formed in 1935-36.

Among the past winners are world 18 footer champions Trevor Barnabas, Bob Holmes and Michael Coxon, each with six victories, and ‘Billo’ Hayward with five.

Another group of past world champions with three wins each are Seve Jarvin, Lee Knapton, Rob Brown, Iain Murray, David Porter, Hugh Treharne, Don Barnett and Cliff Monkhouse.

One of the original names at the League, in 1936-37, has re-appeared in the 2021-22 season and the skiff will contest both the final of the Club Championship on Sunday as well as the upcoming Giltinan Championship.

Two Burrawang-Young Henrys crew members with their kids, with the boat getting rigged behind them.
Peter Dean (Burrawang Village Hotel) and family with Simon Nearn, skipper of Burrawang-Young Henrys. Pic – 18ft skiffs

The name Burrawang first appeared in the club’s second full season, 1936-37 season, now it returns 85 years later in a joint named skiff Burrawang-Young Henrys, which is skippered by the club’s Commodore, Simon Nearn.  Joining Simon in the 2021-22 season team are Rory Cox and Brandon Buyink.

Burrawang-Young Henrys is a team jointly sponsored by Burrawang Village Hotel and Young Henrys Brewery, who are both sponsoring for the first time in the 18 footers.

The original Burrawang was built by two young 12 footer sailing brothers, Pat and Wally Munce and began racing in the League’s 1936-37 season.

Back in the mid-1930s, legendary sports administrator and promoter, James J Giltinan was the first President of the newly-formed sailing League and soon realised the unique opportunity his club had by being ‘the only sport in town’ on Sunday each week.

Sailors, who competed in 16 footer and 12 footer races each Saturday, like the Munce brothers, joined the new 18 footer Sunday fleet at the League.

James J Giltinan, as well as having a high-profile association with Rugby League, was also well connected with horse racing and attracted bookmakers and younger businessmen into the 18s, and convinced them to purchase boats in a similar way that they bought race horses.  

Arthur Frizelle, who was one of the League’s driving forces in those early years, was the owner of the Burrawang 18 footer.

The Munce brothers won their only race in Burrawang early in the 1937-38 season then chose to return to the 12 footers, where they later won the NSW and 1941-42 Australian 12ft championships.

Burrawang-Young Henrys on a spinnaker run.
Burrawang-Young Henrys on a spinnaker run to the bottom mark. Pic – 18ft skiffs

The new team has been one of the most consistently good performers of the 2021-22 season so far and recently finished seventh in the 21-boat fleet after previously winning the Robert Watt Memorial Trophy in mid-December.

A couple of mishaps during the recently concluded 100thAustralian 18ft skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour was costly to the team, which finished in 12th place overall.

The Burrawang Village Hotel is a family run business by Peter and Kate Dean.  Peter’s dream when he first set foot in the Burrawang Village Hotel 10 years ago was to run the hotel and now this dream has become a reality.

Spectators can follow Sunday’s Club Championship Final on board the spectator ferry.  Booking online through the club’s website is essential: http://www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/spectator-ferry/

For those unable to make it out onto the water, Sail Media’s live-as-it-happens 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.

DON’T FORGET: The 2022 JJ Giltinan Championship will be sailed on Sydney Harbour, from March 5-13.

Follow all the club’s racing throughout the 2021-2022 Racing Season:

Club Website     www.18footers.com

Twitter     @18skiff

Instagram     @18skiff

Facebook     International 18Ft Skiff

By Frank Quealey/Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.

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