18ft Skiffs – Balmain 18ft Skiff Racing Team

Ambitious young champions aim for the podium 

As we approach the start of the Australian 18 Footer League’s 2023-24 season, with Race 1 of the Spring Championship to be sailed on Sunday, October 8, the Balmain team is looking to build on its spectacular finish to 2022-23. 

Balmain’s team finished 8th overall in the 2023 JJ Giltinan world Championship but it was the team’s Race 8, 2nd placing in a 12-knot Nor’Easter, behind the John Winning Jr-led champion Andoo team which was the highlight of their regatta. 

The young team was having only its second season in the 18s and the first in a brand new Van Munster-built skiff. 

Like many new teams before them in a new boat, Larkings and his crew took time to adjust to the problems associated with setting up the new boat, but their talent enabled them to produce the season-ending highlight. 

The previous Balmain skiff, in the team’s initial season, was the former Yandoo, which had been perfectly set up by her experienced skipper John ‘Woody’ Winning and handed to the newcomers ready to race. 

They took full advantage of that opportunity by winning the first race they contested in the 18s – Race 1 of the 2021-22 Spring Championship. 

Balmain’s skipper Henry Larkings won two Australian 29er Championships (2017 and 2018) and was the bronze medalist at the 2018 Youth World Championship in the USA on his way to joining the 18s in 2021-22.  

Henry is full of praise for the League and its youth policy, which has assisted his team over the past two seasons.  “The club made it incredibly easy and welcoming, and provided us with a functioning boat and all the gear; even with new sails for the season.  It made it enjoyable coming into the class.” 

“It also supported us by having experienced 18 footer sailors help us to rig up for the first time and take us out on our first sails, and we were thrilled when we got a new 18 from the club.” 

“We look forward to sailing every Sunday and thank both the club and our sponsor Balmain Private, who have given us the opportunity to sail such great boats in a very competitive fleet.” 

Bowman Flynn Twomey, who is having his fourth season in the 18s, will be with Larkings again this season and they’ve been joined for the first time this season by Fynn Sprott, on the sheet. 

Like Larkings, Twomey is also a product of the 29er and 49er classes where he was highly placed in Australian national / youth championships in 2016 through to 2018, ending his time in the 29er at the 2017 World Championship at Long Beach, California, finishing 16th. 

More recently, Flynn contested the 2022 49er Kiel Week and European Championship at Aarhus, Denmark, and is now recognised as a leading bowman in the 18s. 

Newcomer to the team, Fynn Sprott was placed 3rd in the 2018 Youth nationals and second in the 2019 29er nationals, and has previous 18 footer experience in both the 2022 and 2023 JJ Giltinan World championships. 

According to Flynn Twomey, “the team have all come through the 29er and 49er classes, competing at numerous world and national championships against each other, and it’s super nice to finally work together for once.” 

“We’re satisfied with our progress in the 18s to date, now our aim for the 2023-24 season is to excel consistently at the top, we are pushing to achieve a podium at the 2024 JJ Giltinan World Championship.” 

The team’s Balmain Private sponsor also joined the 18s in the 2021-22 season and has sponsored Larkings’ team throughout their entire campaign.

Balmain Private are also confident of success for the team in 2023-24 and are looking forward to having the name on Sydney Harbour.

“Balmain, as a sponsor, enjoys supporting the local community and the historic 18 footer club and also increases the opportunity to increase public awareness of Balmain’s popular monthly income investments.”

“A great tournament that is fun and competitive.”

Balmain Private, one of the largest non-banks in Australia, is a broad based, privately owned and operated, financial services organisation whose activities span commercial mortgage finance and investment funds management.

“It provides investors looking for regular monthly income and higher yield, the opportunity to  invest in stand-alone, credit approved, registered first mortgages.”

The first race of the Australian 18 Footers League’s 2023-24 season is Race 1 of the Spring Championship on Sunday October 8.  The event is also Race 1 of the League’s Season Point Score series. 

The ‘Alternative’ Ferry in October 2023 

(Notice from the Australian 18 Footers League) 

Due to public works, which is prohibiting access to Double Bay Wharf, it is a difficult exercise to run our regular Spectator Ferry for the first few weeks of the coming season.  Conducting a bus service to an alternative location would not be a practical solution therefore, we have decided not to run a Spectator Ferry for the first few races. 

However, we have a plan!   We will run the Northern part of the 18 Footers clubhouse in Double Bay as an Alternative Ferry and have organised a massive screen to broadcast the SailMedia Livestream camera cat coverage of the racing.  There will be special drinks and food offers, and our bookie will be on hand should you wish to support your favourite team. 

This will provide a really unique way to celebrate the start of the 2023-24 season and all our 18 footer supporters are welcome to come down to our clubhouse ‘Alternative’ Ferry, starting with Race 1 of the Spring Championships on October 8. 

If you can’t get out onto Sydney Harbour to see the action-packed racing, or come to the club’s ‘Alternative’ Ferry, you can catch it LIVE by going to the www.18footers.com website and clicking on the ‘live TV’ button.

Frank Quealey

Australian 18 Footers League Ltd

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