2014 JJ Giltinan and Australian 18ft Skiff Nationals - There can be no doubting New Zealand’s outstanding contribution to the 75 years history of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship since 1938.
The Kiwis have not only been represented at each regatta but their input of design and technology innovations have had an enormous affect on the development of the class.
While victory has eluded them since Terry Mc Dell skippered Travelodge New Zealand to victory at Auckland in 1974, the Kiwis have a proud record of seven wins since 1939.
Their wins are:
1939 Manu Gordon Chamberlin
1950 Komutu Jack Logan
1952 Intrigue Peter Mander
1954 Intrigue Peter Mander
1960 Surprise Bernie Skinner
1972 Smirnoff Don Lidgard
1974 Travelodge New Zealand Terry Mc Dell
Aside from the championship victories, New Zealand’s innovative contribution has been a highlight of the JJ Giltinan Championship’s history.
Most notable were the introduction of the trapeze by Peter Mander and his team in 1952, Bruce Farr’s design breakthrough in the early 1970s and the introduction of the high tech hull construction by Russell Bowler (Benson and Hedges) in the late 1970s.
Graham Catley, who was a part of the Benson and Hedges crew in 1977, has the passion and determination to oversee the great Kiwi resurgence in the 18s, and based on his efforts over recent years it won’t be long before we see another New Zealand champion.
With Alex Vallings’ C-Tech team showing the form which will put it well into contention in the upcoming Giltinan Championship, we asked Graham to outline the work he has already done and his plans for the future:
'I decided the reignite the New Zealand 18 fleet in 2005'.
'Prior to then, Alex Vallings and Phil Airey had kept a bit in touch with one boat sailing occasionally, but a backer and organizer were needed. I decided to undertake the challenge'.
'While I’ve been the backer and organizer, the organizer part has been far more important for New Zealand to be competitively successful. The supporting organisation/club had to be structured in such a way as to underpin the redevelopment of the class'.
'We attended the 2008 Giltinan Championship as a New Zealand ‘team’ for the first time in many years. We had three boats, but were seriously off the pace'.
'I suppose that was understandable but it really created the challenge of being competitive on Sydney Harbour'.
'Since then we have improved every year as the depth of our local fleet has grown. We now have a good fleet of eleven boats racing and we intend to grow this to at least 15 over the next couple of years'.
'Last year we had two boats in the top 10 at the JJ’s and I will be disappointed if we don’t have three this year'.
'The strategy is to repeat history when New Zealand had leadership (late 70’s) in 18 design, spar making and matching sail maker. We have made good progress to that end with the development of our own technology with C-Tech spars and North Sails NZ'.
'The challenge, after that, is to make the NZ fleet competitively sustainable over the foreseeable future. This has not been achieved in New Zealand historically, but I’m up for that challenge so we will see how we get on'.
The New Zealand team, representing the Auckland Sailing Club at the 2014 JJ Giltinan Championship, proudly presented by Sydney City Marine, March 1-9, on Sydney Harbour is:
C-Tech - Alex Vallings, Chris Kitchen, Joshua McCormack
Yamaha - David McDiarmid, Andrew Archibald, Mark Overington
Maersk Line - Graham Catley, Matt Randell, Brad Collins
Knight Frank - Riley Dean, Matt Coutts, John Little