John ‘Woody’ Winning will be competing in his 29th JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship, proudly presented by Sydney City Marine, when he lines up against 33 of the world’s best 18ft Skiff teams from 1-9 March on Sydney Harbour.
It’s an amazing achievement for the 61-year-old who first sailed in the championship at Auckland in 1977 on Travelodge.
‘Woody’ won the title in 2000 with AMP Centrepoint but this record may have been even better had it not been for the legendry Iain Murray and Color T in 1980 and 1981.
On both occasions, Woody was runner-up with performances which probably would have won him titles at another time.
He also had to be satisfied with being runner-up to Murray in three Australian Championships before claiming his first in 2000.
While John sailed three seasons for long-term sponsor Patrick Corrigan AM (Mitchell Cotts), he has elected to fund his own campaigns under the famous red and blue oval of ‘Yandoo’.
Aside from his wonderful performances and great longevity in the class, John has an amazing love of the 18s history.
The Australian 18 Footers League’s fleet has benefitted and prospered through the support Woody has generated from many of his business-associated companies.
It’s fair to say the strength of 18ft Skiff Racing over the past decade would have been tested seriously without Woody’s love of the sport.
John’s other passion has been the establishment and success of ‘Historical 18 Footer Racing’ each week on Sydney Harbour.
These boats are replicas of past 18 Footers from the pre-1950 era. John owns, or part owns through a trust, seven of these boats and competes each Saturday as well as competing in his ‘Yandoo’ skiff in League races each Sunday.
The first ‘historical’ boat he had built was a replica of Bill Stanley’s ‘Australia’ as that was the boat in which his father and uncle both sailed.
Others include ‘Alruth’ in dedication to the League’s legend Alf Beashel, ‘The Mistake’ which was the boat which ultimately led to the breakaway which created the ‘League’ in 1935 and ‘Aberdare’, which was the boat that 'started it all'.
Two others are ‘Australia IV’, an older design sailed by Bill Fisher (the replica was built by Fisher’s grandson) and ‘Yendys’, another famous old boat, the replica of which was built by the late Ian Perdriau.
The final boat is ‘Myra Too’, a replica of the 1951 JJ Giltinan champion. This boat will be at Double Bay next Sunday prior to the start of Race two in the 2014 JJ Giltinan Championship, and is expected to be sailed by three generations of champions.
When you have personally known Woody for the past 35 years, or more, you must have a great respect for an incredible man.
As great a sailor as he is and has been all his life, John’s love of his sport and life generally is inspiring and a great example for the younger generation looking to become the best they can.
When questioned about his ongoing career in the 18s, John was simply said: 'I have no intention whatsoever of retiring. I’m enjoying my sailing and looking forward to chalking up number 30 Giltinan Championship regatta in 2015'.
Great news for us all.
As we honour James J. Giltinan this year for what he did for the 18s, there is no doubt John Winning is, at least, the equal of anyone who has ever contributed to the history and future of 18ft Skiff Racing.