The 64th JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship is shaping up as one of the closest contests for several years with 31 of the world’s best teams lining up on Sydney Harbour for the 2013 title.
Defending champion Gotta Love It 7 team of Seve Jarvin, Scott Babbage and Peter Harris had a stressful week waiting for the outcome of repairs being made to their badly damaged hull last Sunday.
Despite the concern and the uncertainty, Gotta Love It 7’s recent victory in the Australian Championship has the team installed as favourite to retain the title.
With former Giltinan champions Michael Coxon (Thurlow Fisher Lawyers), John Winning (Yandoo) and Howie Hamlin (CST Composites) in the 2013 fleet there is certain to be plenty of challengers to Jarvin’s crown.
Australia’s team is a strong one as usual, but New Zealand and UK both have teams capable of winning the championship.
New Zealand’s Alex Vallings (C-Tech) has won the Mark Foy Trophy and San Francisco International Regatta in the past twelve months and has 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist Peter Burling in his crew for the series.
The UK will have their best chance of victory since Rob Greenhalgh won in 2004.
Jamie Mears (Pica) and Jarrod Simpson (The Black Dog) are both strong contenders with strong crews.
Two local teams which were winners during the recent Australian Championship, Coopers-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney) and Smeg (Nick Press), are both particularly experienced outfits capable of handling the stronger winds, and are capable of championship victory.
Competition throughout the fleet has never been stronger with national and international champions, Olympic gold medalists, wing masts and for the first time all-girl crew competing in the world’s most sought after title.
ASCC (New Zealand) Murray England, Rowan Swanson, Matt Randell
Events Clothing (New Zealand) Riley Dean, John Little, Scott Randell
Bridge Marina Travelift (New Zealand) Kez Cameron, Adrian France, Stephen Jones
Yamaha 2 (New Zealand) Sam Marshall, Tom Peet, Ben Gladwell
Spectator ferries will follow each of the seven races in the championship, leaving Double Bay Wharf 30 minutes before the start of each race. Races 1 and 6 (Saturdays 16 and 23 February) start at 4pm while all other races start at 3pm.
Races 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 will be sailed on 17, 19, 20, 21 and 24 February.
For those who can’t make it onto the spectator ferry, there are many ways to follow the championship: