18ft Skiffs: 2019-2020 season preview

The Australian 18 Footers League’s 85th season of continuous 18ft Skiff Racing on Sydney Harbour will commence on Sunday, October 13 when 17 of the world’s fastest racing boats will line up to contest Race 1 of the 2019 Spring Championship.

The Spring Championship is a seven-race series, sailed over specially designed courses, which uses a unique handicapping system to maximise the number of potential winners as well as provide close, fast-paced action for spectators.

All teams will see this regatta as the first step along the way to regaining the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship after two recent loses to the Kiwis.

The fleet includes the 2018 Spring Champion Rag & Famish Hotel team of Bryce Edwards, Jacob Broome and Rory Cox, who will be up against several class champions including the present European, Australian, NSW and Club champion team led by James Dorron.

Edwards said he and his team are looking forward to defending the Spring Championship: “We have been working hard on getting the boat ready for the first race and hope to have it firing on all cylinders come the first starting signal.

“We are looking to defend the title as this event really does start the season off nicely and can set up the whole year and adding a little confidence.”

Commenting on the race format, Edwards added: “We like the 3-Buoys racing at the beginning of the season as it keeps the racing tight no matter the conditions, and it allows a chance to shake off some of the rust gathered from the off season.

“Our sponsor (Peter Calligeros, Rag & Famish Hotel) has been a phenomenal influence and supporter, so it’s also a good opportunity to give him an early reward.

“It will also be a good opportunity to show our strength while mixing it with some of the old and new names in the fleet this season.”

The experience of John Winning Jr. (Winning Group), Keagan York (Finport Finance), Micah Lane (Smeg),Sean Langman (Noakesailing) and Brett Van Munster (appliancesonline.com.au) will present a formidable challenge for the 2019 title, as will the young brigade led by Jordan Girdis (The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone), Aron Everett (The Oak Double Bay-4Pines), Jack Sprague (Dal Zotto), Kirk Mitchell (Vintec), Tom Anderson (Birkenhead Point Marina) and Pedro Vozone (ILVE).

After her rookie season in 2018-2019, Yvette Heritage will have the support of Sean Langman’s Noakes Group in Noakes Blue.  Langman has been a great supporter of young talent in the 18s with past support for Jacqui Bonnitcha and Ash Rooklyn.

Two former champions, Marcus Ashley-Jones and Tom Clout are also making a return to the 18s this season and their presence will strengthen the Australian challenge against the Kiwis later in the season.

Spectators can get up close and personal with the teams in the rigging area, then follow the racing on board the spectator ferry, which leaves Double Bay Wharf, alongside the rigging area, each race day at 2pm.

For those who can't make it onto the water, live streaming is available on 18FootersTV: https://www.18footers.com.au/18-footers-sailing/18-footers-tv/  

– Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League

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