18ft Skiffs – Finport Finance – the battle to defend her title

Despite a lack of interstate competition, the battle for victory in the 2023-24 Australian 18ft skiff Championship will be as tough as ever when the defending champion Finport Finance team of Keagan York, Matt Stenta and Phil Marshall line against both the Giltinan World champion, Andoo, and NSW champion, Yandoo, teams in Race 1 on Sydney Harbour this Sunday (January 14). 

Finport Finance won a hotly contested championship in 2022-23 and followed this up with a win in the Mark Foy Trophy on Lake Garda, Italy during the Australian winter, but the form shown by the recently-crowned NSW champion Yandoo team of John ‘Woody’ Winning, Fang Warren and Lewis Brake is expected to test the rest of the fleet. 

A number of teams, including Finport Finance and Andoo (John Winning Jr, Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton), had below full-strength crews in several races leading up to the break over Christmas and the New Year so accurate form is hard to predict before Sunday’s opening race of the championship. 

If the early weather forecast of a 20knot SSE wind for the entire race proves to be correct, the teams and ferry spectators are in for an exciting afternoon’s action-packed race. 

As well as the three leading teams, there are a number of newer and young teams showing promise which could earn them a spot on the podium after each race. 

Two of those teams are Rag & Famish Hotel (Harry Price) and Balmain (Henry Larkings) who expect to build on their successes over the past two championship seasons. 

Kirk Mitchell’s unsponsored boat gave an excellent performance to finish third behind Yandoo and Andoo in last month’s NSW Championship and a continuation of the team’s consistency will see it in contention once again. 

Racing over the next six weeks will also be critical to all competing teams as they build up to the 75th JJ Giltinan World Championship, which will be sailed on Sydney Harbour from March 2-10. 

After missing the Australian Championship, Queensland will have two teams, Big Foot Bags & Covers (Dave Hayter) and C-Tech (Josh Sloman) at the JJs. 

Germany’s Black Knight team, skippered by Heinrich von Bayern, will lead the competition from Europe while New Zealand’s team will be led by ASCC, skippered by Eli Leifting. 

It will be the Kiwis first time back at the JJs since Covid-19 which forced an end to the three successive victories by David McDiarmid’s Honda Marine team in 2018, 19 and 20. 

The League’s spectator ferry will follow Sunday’s action, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf at 2pm.    

Tickets are on sale https://18footers.com/18-footer-racing/spectator-ferry/   

If you prefer, you can still join the League’s ‘Alternative Ferry’ in the clubhouse and enjoy all the racing action LIVE on the massive screen broadcasting the SailMedia Livestream camera cat coverage.  It’s a really unique way to celebrate the great racing and all 18 footer supporters are welcome to come down to the clubhouse ‘Alternative Ferry’.         

If you can’t get out onto Sydney Harbour, or come to the club’s ‘Alternative’ Ferry’, you can still watch it LIVE by going to https://youtube.com/live/yPk0t4dX8Zw?feature=share 

Frank Quealey

Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.

Jeanneau SF30 OD
M.O.S.S Australia
Jeanneau JY60
M.O.S.S Australia
Race Yachts
Cyclops Marine