The exciting world of 18ft Skiff Racing has been alive and well on Sydney Harbour for 124 years, but even the strongest of modern day sport is heavily reliant on the sponsorship dollar to maintain the quality of the competition and the level of necessary development to ensure the ongoing future.
18ft Skiff Racing was one of the early sports to introduce naming rights sponsorship to the boats. Many of the world’s best skiffs racing on Sydney Harbour in the 1960s and 1970s carried the corporate names of some of Australia’s best known corporate and brand names.
In those days, sports sponsorship was relatively new. In more recent times, every sport, most teams and most of each sport’s champion competitors are vying for the available corporate funding. The 18s have been fortunate to have some very good long term sponsors who have not only supported the class with funds but have also been enthusiastic personal supporters of the racing.
One such corporate friend of the 18 Footers has been the De’Longhi Group in Australia. Under the De’Longhi banner, the company has sponsored a number of skiffs since 2003, firstly for Grant Rollerson and later Simon Nearn. In addition, the group has also sponsored a second skiff for three years under the Kenwood Create More banner, for Brett Van Munster.
The Group's General Manager – Sales and Marketing, Tom Mitchell has been the driving force behind the sponsorship and has taken the association between De’Longhi and the Australian 18 Footers League to a level rarely seen in sport.
Thirteen years of continuous sponsorship in the 18s is amazing, but Tom and De’Longhi have also been responsible for developing a healthy relationship with Rugby League’s famous South Sydney Rabbitohs club, which won the Australian Premiership in 2014 and was World Cup champions in 2015.
As a major sponsor of the Rabbitohs since 2008, Tom introduced the iconic ‘Rabbit’ logo and Red and Green colours to the 18s on both the De’Longhi and Kenwood Create More skiffs.
With Tom’s organisation, the Australian 18 Footers League hosted the Premiership-winning Rugby League club for three 2-hour pre-season training sessions in the park alongside the club and family functions with the club’s playing and administrative personnel in the club’s dining room.
For the present 2015-2016 Season, Tom’s enthusiasm enlisted another ‘Rabbitoh’ sponsor to the 18s. This time it is Alcatel, which is sponsoring 1996 JJ Giltinan champion Stephen Quigley under the Alcatel One Touch banner.
At the 2016 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, presently being sailed on Sydney Harbour, both of Tom’s boats are performing well and recording consistently good results in one of the most competitive fleets in the championship’s history. De’Longhi won the Invitation Race last Friday which is a lead in to the championship then yesterday the team finished a close fifth in the 28-boat international fleet.
Australian 18 Footers League President, John Winning, said: “Sponsorship is critical to all sporting organisations. We are a club which is pro-active in supporting talented young sailors and have a proud record of being part of the development of Australians who have gone on to become world champions, Olympic Gold Medalists, leading international ocean racing yachtsmen and America’s Cup winners.
“It’s companies such as De’Longhi and their administrators who have been such an important part of helping the club produce the opportunities for our young sailing talent. Without the support of De’Longhi and our other sponsors much of the talent would not get the opportunity to put Australia’s name in front of the rest of the world.”
– Frank Quealey, Australian 18 Footers League