International 14 World Championships lining up to be a family affair

 As the entry list for the 2015 International 14 World Championships grows, there are number of Australian skippers who are turning to their family members, encouraging them to race in the worlds, either for the first time or for a return tilt at fleet glory.

Nine family teams are readying to do battle in Geelong over the period of 3rd to the 17 January 2015.

For many of them the skippers’ children are now old enough and big enough to now start racing with them for the first time, while for others it’s a long-term family partnership.

Newly appointed President of Yachting Victoria, Ian Cunningham, will race with his youngest son, 23-year-old David. Theirs is an experienced combination having raced together since David was eight, most recently in the B14 class. However, this will be first time they have raced an International 14 and they are yet to receive their first boat which is coming from Perth. While they wait for it to arrive, Ian and David are continuing to use their 49er, which they have entered in the upcoming ISAF Sailing World Cup – Melbourne, to hone their teamwork on a larger boat.

Ian’s oldest son Scott will also be on the water, skippering his own International 14 with friend David Parker.

Cunningham said “The change to the International 14 class is because the World titles are in our backyard at Geelong and because it’s always been an aspiration of mine to do it, and sail against blokes like Stewart Vickery, David McGeoch, the Tomamichel brothers, all of who I used to sail against when I was 16 or 17.
One of the first World Championship entries was from class stalwart, Stewart Vickery who had planned on racing with his 23-year-old daughter Freya. However, under surgeon’s orders, Vickery will be stuck on shore for the championships. As a consequence he is now looking for a skipper to race his boat with Freya as crew. “I started sailing with her after Christmas last year, but I’ve now left her high and dry, so I would like to find someone to skipper my boat for her,” Vickery said.

Vickery is also disappointed he will be letting down his friend Stephen Edmunds. “When he got wind of my operation, he said it was a shame as he was looking forward to racing against me with his son,” Vickery added.

Edmunds will be racing with his 17-year-old son Tom. With limited sailing experience, but plenty of fitness, strength and height, Tom is being thrown into the deep end by his father who wants him to experience competing at a world championship. “Tom mainly does basketball and athletics. He has sailed with me before so he is not entirely fresh, but he is not a regular sailor.

“When it gets a bit warmer we are going to get out and train. We will probably have to train one day every weekend as he is in the middle of his exams for his final year of high school. That’s another challenge we will have to get through,” Edmunds said.

The two will have spent just enough time on the water that Edmunds expects they will be a workable team. “He won’t have an opportunity to play with his phone, so he will have to play with me,” Edmunds quipped.

Stewart Vickery’s brother Robert is another father who is taking his son on as crew. Fifteen-year-old Arron is on a steep learning curve as his father teaches him to sail. They have already spent a few days sailing the tricky International 14 together, but in light conditions. Robert will take Arron out for some intensive training just before Christmas, in what he hopes will be heavier conditions.

It isn’t the first time that Robert, who has been in the class since 1976, has taken this approach to crew for major International 14 events. For the nationals in Adelaide earlier this year, he took a young female crew that hadn’t sailed before. “It’s a good way to introduce people and try to get them interested in the class.”

Queensland based Christian Wangel is organising his younger brother, Adelaide based Henrik, to be ready for the World Championships. Both of them sailed together on a 14 Foot Skiff in their younger years, but Christian then gave up the sport to concentrate on marriage and children while Henrik converted to power boats.

It is only in the last year that Christian has chosen to return to sailing, “I just wanted to come back and do it before it’s too late. I think the 14 is the most interesting boat because of its’ large sail area and short length. It’s a very reactive boat,” Wangel said.

Cajoling Henrik back to sailing hasn’t been too hard for Christian. “I think he is in withdrawal from sailing.

“We will have a few days training before the Worlds and then cross our fingers because I know they are not easy boats to keep upright. I used to sail well so I would like to do as well as possible,” Wangel added.

Twin brothers, 60 year olds Phillip and Geoffrey Tomamichel are old hands at International 14 competition having raced together for 25 years and competed in three previous World Championships. Phillip said they have been able to stay in the class as the boat design has evolved. “I love the speed of the boat and the technology,” Tomamichel added.

Phillip is on the helm as he claims he isn’t any good as a crew. “Geoffrey is a far better crew and a far better tactician than I am.  We get on well on the boat, but we still have our squabbles, as brothers do,” Tomamichel joked.

Other family teams entered for the 2015 World Championships are David McGeoch with his daughter Bridget, Greg and Brodie Coutts, and Phil and Andrew Vance.

Standard Entries close on 14th November 2014. Late entries may be accepted after this time with a late entry administration fee of $AUD100 applying, until the close of entries on 12th December 2014.

For more information head to the i14 Worlds Website.

– Tracey Johnstone

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