2024 NSW O’pen Skiff Championships

By Avalon Sailing Club

BYRA proudly hosted the 2024 NSW Open Skiff (previously known as the BIC) state titles over the weekend of 16th and 17th March 2024 in Pittwater with Avalon contributing the second largest team only one boat less than the ever strong Manly yacht club. 

We had seven sailors, with Oli Leech and Marcus Cockle sailing in the gold fleet and Kaleb Cullus, Charlie Quinn, Seb Cockle, McKenzie Solomon and Max Eilbeck fighting it out in silver.

Our crew met for an early start at Avalon to load up Red Rib and set the tow lines connecting our skiffs to Mark Solomon’s work boat. Seeing the seven skiffs trailing along one following the other on the half hour journey across the pond to BYRA was quite a sight. Many commented that it was akin to a mother duck and her ducklings. The kids were all buzzing with excitement with high hopes for some good results despite the less than favourable wind forecast.

Saturday’s dying southerly with flukey conditions and gusts not more than 13 knots meant that competitors had to adjust their technique for the light air sailing. Our lightest sailors revelled in these conditions with Charlie Quinn proving the standout in the silver fleet with top three finishes in each race. 

One of the best aspects to this class is that every regatta includes an “adventure race” component on each day. A novel idea where the organisers match two up on each boat, pairing the competitors from most experienced to the least. The adventure races consist of a bunch of challenges that often end with exciting conclusions. Some would say that winning an adventure race is more important than the actual trophies, it’s certainly a fantastic way to mix the kids together to meet new friends and learn new skills. 

Day 2 started wet and very calm. It was commented at the time that the wind didn’t blow it sucked! After waiting all morning for a slight northerly to arrive we managed to only complete one race in some very slow and ordinary conditions. Alas “that’s sailing!”

The results demonstrate that Avalon’s sailors are really starting to pull their weight in this fantastic class of boat. Our strongest sailor, who has moved through the ranks at a rate of knots, was formally recognised for his efforts and obvious talents by winning the male Rising Star award for 2024, congratulations Oliver Leech! Special mention should be made to Seb Cockle who is our youngest sailor (and full disclosure, my son) for his efforts in progressing from a very tentative green group sailor, suffering injuries at the national championships held in Noosa, and yet persevering and progressing into silver group and collecting a few trophies on the run. 

The highest accolades should be presented to Charlie Quinn who fought his way through the season against some pretty tough odds. He consistently missed out on placings time and again only to pull his skills and mental toughness together peaking at just the right time to win the state championship for NSW in silver group. Congratulations Charlie!

Click here for the results

All our young sailors have demonstrated amazing dedication and drive this year with some encouraging results at every regatta. It’s been challenging, frustrating, exciting but most of all great fun to see these youngsters become such capable little humans. 

Thanks to all the parents, your support and encouragement has been the backbone of our campaign and I see this as just the beginning for our fleet with the promise of new boats entering next season. With only two years until the world championships to be held in Queensland, it gives us a fantastic goal to work towards, Go ASC!

Cpt Tony Cockle

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