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He’s back, she’s terrific, and they’re expanding!

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 25 Nov 2018 13:00 PST
Smeg was another team to suffer from the mark rounding incident © Frank Quealey

The great Frank Quealey wrote a piece during week about the season proper for the legendary 18 Footers, which has now commenced in earnest. There was one name that certainly that was interesting to catch in amongst it all. It was Michael Coxon, the 2017 Champion, who is on board Smeg with Mike McKensey and Ricky Bridge. A closer inspection also revealed that Micah Lane was back to the class as well, now driving Bing Lee, with crew Peter Harris and Mark Kennedy.

We spoke of it all a bit earlier, when we highlighted how Coxon works with Lane at Flagstaff Marine, and you can get an idea of the repartee they conduct by looking back at Electric Carrot Cake, and then also, It's getting hot in here.

Anyway, it has now all begun, and in the first race, the honours went to Lane, who had another former colleague of theirs, Jack Macartney, come and join them for the fun. They placed third, whilst Coxon was in sixth. Earlier on Coxon commented about it all, and the one season he took off on the couch, by saying, "After what I thought was retirement from the 18's last year, I found myself tuning in to the livestream at 2:30pm every Sunday to watch the skiffs go round and listen to Wazza and Bucko on the camera cat paint the picture."

"The withdrawals were too much, and I had decided to have another crack. After putting my hat in the ring, I was grateful to get a call from Ricky and Mike who had campaigned the Smeg ship with Lee Knapton for a number of years, and were always a force."

"We have only had two weekends together this season, as I missed the first few races, and Bridgy was off doing 16's. We have got plenty to learn with both boat speed, and dynamics/roles on the boat as a team, but it sure is good to be back. The boys are great to sail with."

"There is going to be some stiff opposition from the Internationals, and at home. Finport Finance - Keagan York, Matt Stenta, and Charlie Gundy - seem to be the benchmark at the moment, with some of the young guard showing plenty of promise as well. Then there's the Rag (& Famish Hotel), having just narrowly won the spring series, plus Vintec, and of course the older, usual suspects. Herman Winning has put together a new boat, with the assistance of Iain Murray. He is still sorting out his crew, but will be dangerous come March."

"We have looking forward to getting in to the scratch racing that has just started. The NSW State Championship has also just got under way, and runs for the next five weeks, followed by Australian Championship," said Coxon, all too aware of the many stepping-stones on the way to the podium.

Of course at this time of year the amount of material around the big race at Xmas ramps up significantly. One item to grab some deserved airtime was Stacey Jackson's all-female crew on board the R/P 66 Wild Oats X. They are really clear that they want the focus to be on the work of 11th Hour Racing in sustainability and looking after our ocean, hence the co-branding with Jackson's Ocean Respect Racing.

Now on the left of the picture, was one of Melbourne's best performing yacht brokers. Actually, she could well be the broker... Anyway, Jade Cole, who is the branch Manager at Team Windcraft commented on the opportunity, "When I received the call from Stacey to be part of her team I jumped at the chance. Since an overall second in 2008 (CougarII TP52) I can't help but continue to go back - this will be my eighth attempt - to do one better, and the Ocean Respect Racing campaign has all the ingredients to win the coveted prize."

"The work of 11th Hour Racing is vital for the future of our ocean health, and as a sailor and marine industry professional the responsibility starts with us!"

Sail Melbourne and Sail Sydney sneak a good deal of action in before the Hobart. In talking with Mark Turnbull, we got to see just how things are expanding for that event. "The 2018 Sail Melbourne International (SMI) hosted by the Royal Brighton Yacht Club is less than three weeks away, and entries keep rolling in, having ticked over 300 last week. The 2018 event is key to the Australian domestic calendar for both the Olympic classes looking towards Tokyo, and also the youth classes with their eyes on more distant horizons," said Turnbull.

"This year's event has increased to a four-day regatta for all classes to provide more racing, and more reason to travel from interstate and overseas to compete. Note that 70% of the competitors are from outside of Victoria, and this years event has already attracted sailors from fourteen different countries."

"SMI will also be hosting the inaugural Australian Para Sailing Championships, and also the exciting WASZP class for the first time. All this is of course looking to be a huge year ahead for sailing in Victoria, as yacht clubs around Port Phillip start gearing up to host six out of the ten Olympic Class Championships over the 2019/2020 Summer leading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Specifically, these World Championships are:

  • 2019 Finn Gold Cup - RBYC (Dec)
  • 2020 Laser Standard World Championships - SYC (Feb)
  • 2020 Laser Radial (Men and Women) World Championships - SYC (Feb)
  • 2020 49er World Championships - RGYC (Feb)
  • 2020 49erFX World Championships - RGYC (Feb)
  • 2020 Nacra 17 World Championships - RGYC (Feb)
  • 2020 Laser Masters World Championships - RGYC (Mar)

"Next Summer will certainly be very busy. There are the six Olympic Class World Championships (including Olympic continental qualifiers), one Masters Worlds, and for 2020, SMI will move to its traditional January dates. Then there is also the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club to host the 2020 Australian Sailing Youth Champs, as well as all the associated Australian Class Championships (including the Optimists)."

"The Victorian State Government has again assisted to make this happen with the continued funding for the SMI event and then Major Event funding for the 2019/2020 Worlds, which has been branded as the '2020 Sail Melbourne Summer of Sailing'."

Turnbull finished by saying, "Numbers are looking good for this year's 2018 SMI, and it is a must-do event on the calendar, but eyes are already looking on towards the 2020 Sail Melbourne Summer of Sailing. Make sure you are there!"

Surfing the Sailing Champions League website, and with 2019 within distance of a good sailor and a heaving line, you get the impression that we could see dear old AUS become a key part of an Oceania leg, and for that matter, so too NZL. If it is to be Sydney in April, then getting a wiggle on may be important for your club, if you want to send in a team. Just saying...

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review. We have information about the Volvo, the Hobart, the Route du Rhum, SailGP, flying in Martinique, Ashby and his amazing 10th A-Class win, intel from North Sails, the Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship, the 'Heaven Can Wait' regatta on Lake Macquarie, Flying Fifteens, Golden Globe Race, Finns, racing in Tasmania, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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