When the 2022 Mark Foy Trophy international 18 footer skiff regatta is contested on Lake Garda, Italy from July 18-20, it will become the 14th regatta of the championship series to honour the name of the man who was the ‘father’ of the class on Sydney Harbour back in 1892.
Mark Foy is regarded as one of the most significant historical figures in Australian sailing history. An innovator and visionary who wanted to take sailing to a national and international level, Foy was the first Australian entrant in an international sailing competition when he took his 22ft boat, ‘Irex’, to England in 1898.
Six years before his historic journey to England, Foy staged an incredible spectator-driven regatta on Sydney Harbour in January 1892 with colourful, fast boats, handicapped to produce exciting finishes, in front of thousands of spectators gathered on his island ‘grandstand’.
With 18 footers racing in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia in the early 1900s, Foy introduced a new interstate trophy, the Mark Foy Challenge Cup, at the start of the 1911-12 season.
His original intention was for the trophy to be presented to whoever won five times, but when he realised that this was not going to be possible, he reduced the number of wins to three. The legendary Chris Webb eventually became the winner of the trophy.
The inaugural event was held in Perth in 1912 and, after a thrilling race, Chris Garland’s Westana (WA) defeated Nimrod (NSW), by just 5s in front of a crowd estimated at 10,000 spectators. That victory is now recorded as the first official winner of the Australian Championship.
In 1935, Foy next introduced the Mark Foy Australian Challenge Cup for competition between open or half-decked Australasian boats from 18ft-24ft and would be won outright after three wins by the same owner.
The trophy was never contested and remained in the Foy family’s possession until Mark passed away in 1950, when it was presented to the Sydney Flying Squadron.
John Winning and class historian John Stanley wanted to honour Foy and his determination to make the sport international and came up with the concept of the Mark Foy Trophy competition which would be sailed at various locations around the world.
It would be an international alternative to the JJ Giltinan World Championship, which is conducted annually on Sydney Harbour.
The first Mark Foy Trophy regatta was sailed at Carnac, France in 2009 and was won by the UKs champion skipper Rob Greenhalgh in Benny.
Over the following years there have been winners from UK, Australia, New Zealand and USA, and the championship has been contested in seven countries – France, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, USA, Italy and Fiji.
In 2022, Australia is sending a four-boat team to take on the best European teams.
The Australian teams are:
Lazarus Capital Partners: Marcus Ashley-Jones, Angus Williams, Phil Marshall
Burrawang-Young Henrys: Simon Nearn, Grant Rollerson, Fang Warren
Fisher & Paykel: Jordan Girdis, Elliott Mahar, Charlie Gundy
Rag & Famish Hotel: Harry Price, Harry Hall, Josh McKnight
The leading team from Europe is expected to be the German team, led by Heinrich Bayern, which performed so well in the 2022 JJ Giltinan world Championship on Sydney Harbour in March.
Previous winners of the Mark Foy Trophy:
2009 Benny Rob Greenhalgh (UK) Carnac, France
2010 Gotta Love It 7 Seve Jarvin (Aust) Sydney, Australia
2011 Yandoo John Winning (Aust) Sonderborg, Denmark
2012 C-Tech Alex Vallings (NZ) Auckland, New Zealand
2013 C-Tech Alex Vallings (NZ) San Francisco, USA
2014 Gotta Love It 7 Seve Jarvin (Aust) Sydney, Australia
2015 Harken Howie Hamlin (USA) Torbole, Lake Garda, Italy
2016 Yamaha David McDiarmid (NZ) Suva, Fiji
2017 Yamaha David McDiarmid (NZ) Arco, Lake Garda, Italy
2018 Asko Appliances James Dorron (Aust) Arco, Lake Garda, Italy
2019 Asko Appliances James Dorron (Aust) Arco, Lake Garda, Italy1
2020 Honda Marine David McDiarmid (NZ) Sydney, Australia
2021 Smeg Michael Coxon (Aust) Sydney, Australia
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.