JJ Giltinan Veteran – John Winning

When John (Woody) Winning lines up as skipper of Yandoo for Race 1 of the 73rd JJ Giltinan World 18 footer Championship on Sydney Harbour on Saturday, March 4, it will be for the 36th time for the “70½-year-old” 18ft skiff legend.

Before 18s had wings (photo Bob Ross)
Before 18s had wings (photo Bob Ross)

Woody first contested the world’s biggest 18 footer championship in 1977 when, as a 25-year-old, he skippered his Bruce Farr-designed Travelodge into sixth place on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.

Travelodge, 1976-77 (photo Bob Ross)
Travelodge, 1976-77 (photo Bob Ross)

He had to wait until the year 2000 before he won the championship, in AMP Centrepoint, but it could have been so different had it not been for the famous Iain Murray-led Color 7 team’s run of five successive championship victories between 1978 and 1982.

AMP Centrepoint, John Winning's 2000 Giltinan world Champion (archive)
AMP Centrepoint, John Winning’s 2000 Giltinan world Champion (archive)

Winning, skippering the Travelodge Hotels Group-sponsored Pacific Harbour Fiji (1980) then Yandoo (1981), had to be content with finishing as runner-up to Iain Murray and the Color 7 team.

Woody, Yandoo and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2012 (photo Frank Quealey)
Woody, Yandoo and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2012 (photo Frank Quealey)

Going into the 2023 regatta, Woody’s Yandoo team of Fang Warren and Josh Porebski are rated as one of the top five contenders for the title after some very impressive performances throughout the early championship races this season.

Woody & Herman in the rigging area (photo Frank Quealey)
Woody & Herman in the rigging area (photo Frank Quealey)

His biggest threat to victory will be the likely series favourite Andoo, skippered by John (Herman) Winning, son of Woody, who is the current NSW champion.

Yandoo leads narrowly from Andoo in Race 2 of the 2022-23 NSW Championship (photo Frank Quealey)
Yandoo leads narrowly from Andoo in Race 2 of the 2022-23 NSW Championship (photo Frank Quealey)

Herman and Woody, along with Herman’s Andoo crew, Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton, recently teamed together on AndooComanche to win line honours in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but there will be no sign of mateship when the two teams go head-to-head in the JJs.

The Winning family’s presence at the 73rd JJ Giltinan World 18 footer Championship goes beyond the racing. The family’s company, The Winning Group is the event sponsor.

Woody’s longevity at the championship is put into perspective when we recall the major changes to the boats since that first regatta in 1977.

He recalls, “My first 18 was a plywood Farr-design hull, now all 18ft skiff hulls come from a single shape and are built from a Kevlar Nomex honeycomb paper, which is sandwiched between layers of pre-preg carbon fibre.”

The design is by Iain Murray and the hulls, built by Van Munster Boatbuilders, have a championship-winning longevity up to around 5-6 seasons, compared to a maximum of 2-3 seasons in the late 70s-early 1980s.

Soon after Woody came to the 18s, he introduced a small ‘fixed’ outrigger frame on each side of his hull to increase the leverage.

1980 Pacific Harbour Fiji (photo Bob Ross)
1980 Pacific Harbour Fiji (photo Bob Ross)

By 1980, Richard Court introduced a sliding frame to further increase leverage, and this system was immediately superseded by the ‘wings’ style which are still used on the hulls of today. During ‘crazy’ days in the mid-1980s, the tip-to-tip wing span reached an incredible 29ft at the 1985 Worlds on Moreton Bay, Brisbane.

John, Jay Harrison and Grant Pollitt on Flora-MMM in the 1980s (archive)
John, Jay Harrison and Grant Pollitt on Flora-MMM in the 1980s (archive)

In 1983, Andrew Buckland re-designed the rig on the 18s which eliminated spinnaker poles altogether. He replaced it and its weight, and complicated rigging, with a sliding (later fixed) bowsprit. An asymmetrical single-luff spinnaker was flown to replace the previous double-luff spinnaker.

John Winning's Mitchell Cotts in the early 1980s (archive)
John Winning’s Mitchell Cotts in the early 1980s (archive)

A huge change came in 1993 when the Australian 18 Footers League introduced the single hull design for all future championship racing, then US champion Howie Hamlin introduced the square-topped mainsail on his West Marine skiff at the 2004 Giltinan Championship.

The aluminium masts and spars used in back 1977 are now high modulus carbon.

Christening of John's first 18ft Skiff, Travelodge, for the 1975-76 season (archive)
Christening of John’s first 18ft Skiff, Travelodge, for the 1975-76 season (archive)

Entries for the Winning Group 73rd JJ Giltinan World 18ft Skiff Championship are:

Andoo John Winning Jr, Seve Jarvin, Sam Newton

Smeg Michael Coxon, Ricky Bridge, Tom Anderson

JJ Giltinan Championship VeteranJohn Winning, Fang Warren, Josh Porebski

Rag & Famish Hotel Harry Price, Josh McKnight, Harry Hall

Big Pete Sean Langman, Ed Powys, Rhys Mara

Lazarus Marcus Ashley-Jones, Rob Bell, Jeronimo Harrison

Shaw & Partners Financial Services Jim Colley, Max Paul, Tom Quigley

Finport Finance Keagan York, Angus Williams, Phil Marshall

Black Knight (Team Germany) Heinrich Bayern, Thomas Martin, Andy Martin

Fisher & Paykel Jordan Girdis, Jacob Broom, Josh Feldmann

Balmain Slake Henry Larkings, Miles Davey, Flynn Twomey

Big Foot Bags & Covers Dave Hayter, Ben Roxburgh, Elliott Mahar

Birkenhead Point Marina Kirk Mitchell, Andrew Stephenson, Daniel Barnett

Burrawang-Young Henrys Simon Nearn, Daniel Phillips, Cameron McDonald

The Oaks Double Bay-4 Pines Alex Marinelli, Matt Doyle, Darcy McCracken

Noakes Youth Tom Cunich, Fynn Sprott, Aiden Mansley

Marine Outlet Cam Gundy, John Walton, Markus Sampson

The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone Lachlan Steel, Jerome Watts, Finn Rodowick

Noakes Blue Nathan McNamara, Peter McLeod, Jack Taylor

C-Tech Josh Sloman, George Morton, Angus Barker

18 Footers Bar & Restaurant Pedro Vozone, Cam Walker, Paddy Bannon

Lazarus Youth Hugo Stoner, Hugo Leeming, Hamish Vass

ASCC Non-starter

Hoefle-Haus Holger Hoefle, Cam De Nardis, Eike Dietrich

Team Japan tba, Takuyou Arita, tba

The race dates for the Winning Group 73rd JJ Giltinan World 18 footer Championship are:

Saturday March 4 Race 1

Sunday March 5 Race 2

Tuesday March 7 Races 3 and 4

Wednesday March 8 Races 5 and 6

Thursday March 9 Race 7

Saturday March 11 Race 8

Sunday March 12 Race 9

An Australian 18 Footers League spectator ferry will follow the racing on each of the seven days, leaving from Double Bay Public Wharf, alongside the clubhouse, at 2pm.

Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.

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