Brisbane, Australia – The stage is set for a thrilling weekend of competition sailing on Waterloo Bay, Manly, when The Australian 18 Footers League return to Brisbane for the first time in 20 years to contest the Australian Championships.
Racing from the Darling Point Sailing Squadron, crews will battle it out on Waterloo Bay for a chance to be crowned the 2015 Australian 18 Foot Skiff Champion. Three local boats from the Brisbane 18 Footers Sailing Club will test themselves against the League boats travelling north from Sydney.
Forecast conditions are likely to be moderate-to-fresh north-north easterly winds, peaking at just under 20 knots on both Friday and Saturday afternoon, before moderating into Sunday and swinging more to the east, with seas at less than a metre across the three days.
Brisbane 18 Footer Sailing Club Commodore Bruce Hermann hoped conditions on Waterloo Bay would provide competitive sailing over the course of the event.
“It’s a whole new ball game bringing the event up here. A lot of the crews won’t have sailed on the Bay before, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the conditions,” he said.
Mr Hermann hoped that the event would revive interest in the class from local sailors. “Having a fleet of 18s here from Sydney, and being visible to the Queensland sailors, means we may be able to attract some local interest in the class,” he said.
After a successful 2014-15 League season, Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel who finished on top of the overall League Championship Points and Gotta Love It 7 convincing winner of the 2015 JJ Giltinan, will enter as the boats to watch. The crews of Thurlow Fisher Lawyers and Mojo Wine will aim to continue their solid form from the competitive season, and top two placings at the NSW Championships last year.
Michael Coxon of Thurlow Fisher Lawyers believes the event will challenge the League boats, and that the local crews could maximise on their local knowledge of conditions. “Their equipment in the past might of let them down, but having local knowledge will definitely help them. We’ll still need to be on our toes. I’m sure the Brisbane guys will sail competitively,” Coxon said. “I’ve sailed there before, and it can be quite challenging with the chop that the wind and tide can throw up, so we’ll need to be careful to avoid any mishaps.”
The Mojo Wine crew are also unsure of what to expect from conditions on Waterloo Bay, but are looking forward to a change from racing on Sydney Harbour. “I think we’ll be just looking to get out there and have a mistake free regatta. It’ll be nice to get off Sydney Harbour where harbour knowledge is so crucial,” Mike McKensey said.
McKensey said that the 2014-15 season had been a learning curve for the new crew, but had been a promising start for their first year racing together. “It’s been a learning experience, Lee (Knapton) coming into this class, but the way he’s handled the boat has been really great,” he said.
Competition begins on Friday afternoon, with the seven race event scheduled to unfold over Saturday and Sunday, in what is sure to be a thrilling weekend of competitive sailing.
Detailed race coverage and media will be provided here over the course of the weekend.
– Andy Gough