RCYC Members at the 18ft Skiff Worlds 10 Jul 2009
Four RCYC Members, all ex-Otters, arrived in Carnac to take part in the 18ft Skiff World Championships on the 26th June. Jamie Mears and Matt Gill are continuing their sailing relationship which started in Cadets many moons ago, teaming up with Stuart Mears to sail Pica, while Jonathan Noonan, as middleman, teamed up with established match racers Mason Woodworth and Simon Hamilton, on board Investec. Other Brits included Pindar, skippered by Andy Richards, (European champions), Ronstan with Iain Turnbull at the helm, TMF Group with Jarrod Simpson and Gill/Wild Graphics with Ed Brown.
The 18ft Skiffs arrived in Carnac to take part in the first edition of the Mark Foy Trophy, named after Australian businessman and enthusiastic sailor Mark Foy, who was the founder of the 18 ft Skiff in 1892. The trophy with his name on it was recently found in the Rogue Flying Squadron offices & is 50cm high, decorated with a Chinese Junk and Australian fishes.
There were thirty teams preparing in the Carnac boat park for the Formula 1 event of dinghy sailing, with famous names of the sport all stepping back into the class for the first edition of the Mark Foy. Amongst the helmsmen were four previous winners of the JJ Giltinan International Championship, which up until now was considered as the equivalent of the World Championships. These names included Trevor Barnabas, the most decorated name of all, sailing with son Trent Barnabas (current title holder) and Dan Philips on 24 hr Road Service AUS. Other names to watch out for were Grant Rollerson (Slam AUS7 and its team , Howie Hamlin Marquarie USA, Archie Massey Asko AUS, along with Robert Greenhough Benny GBR, 2004 winner of the JJ, who only arrived on race day after stepping off Team Puma the day before from the last leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The winds remained light throughout the week, with racing taking place predominantly in 5-10knots of breeze. Mid way through the week, the wind blew up to 18knots which can be pretty fruity on the number 1 rig and allows these boats to really stretch their legs. The racing was dominated by Rollerson’s Slam and Greenhough’s Benny; Slam achieved six wins and Benny four wins out of a total of eleven races. Slam’s erratic starting ended up being their downfall as they recorded an OCS, a 13th after a poor start and a disqualified after an outrageous move on the start line forced 24hr Road Service and Macquarie to retire with damage. With only two discards Slam was forced to count the 13th which was enough to see super consistent Benny win the Championship.
The rest of us Brits proved less consistent than Benny. Pica was well situated in the top ten, mid way through the week but trailed off to finish 13th after a disappointing last couple of days, while a similar trait was shown by Investec who were pushing for a top five finish before having a poor last two days and finished 10th.
Both Pica and Investec proved they are more than capable of mixing it at the top end of the fleet recording a number of top five finishes. Time on the water is key in these boats while also keeping up with the Australian Skiff League’s ever changing developments to the class, funded by a number of sponsors throughout the league. This support which has seen the far more powerful square top rigs developed over the last few seasons and at least one new generation of rig produced each year, makes keeping up with the Aussies no easy task. Next on the programme in August and September are the European GP’s in Lake Garda & Lake Como, Italy, in preparation for the 2010 JJ Giltinan trophy in Sydney which both Pica and Investec plan to attend.