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18ft Skiffs: Family Rivalry on the Race Track

by Frank Quealey 4 Feb 23:13 PST
Vintec and Birkenhead Point Marina in last Sunday's Race 4 of the 18ft Skiff Australian Championship © Frank Quealey

For more than 100 years there has been a strong family influence over the generations in the 18 Footers.

Last Sunday, when Zac Barnabas sailed in the bow of Tom Cunich's Vintec, it created some very interesting competition within the Australian 18 Footers League's fleet at the 2020-2021 Australian Championship on Sydney Harbour.

For a number of seasons, John 'Woody' Winning and his son John 'Herman' Winning have been locking horns at the highest level as skippers of Yandoo and Winning Group respectively.

'Woody' is the 2000 JJ Giltinan, Australian and NSW champion when he skippered AMP Centrepoint to victory. 'Herman' won the 2019-2020 NSW Championship, when he skippered Winning Group to victory.

Zac Barnabas' entry into the 2020-2021 season fleet put him in direct competition with his father Trent, a multiple JJ Giltinan champion, who was in the bow of Michael Coxon's Smeg.

Unfortunately for young Zac, dad came out on top as Smeg took line honours in both races of the Australian Championship.

As well as the father and son competition, there was also family rivalry between two brothers, Cam and Charlie Gundy.

While they are each members of very talented teams, last Sunday was not a good day for either as Cam (Andoo) and Charlie (The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines) had to be satisfied with below normal results.

Another member of the Andoo team, Jeronimo Harrison is the son of a former top rating 18ft skiff sailor, who sailed in some of the leading 18s of the 1980s.

One of Jay's teams was when he sailed as sheet hand with John 'Woody' Winning (yes, the same one who is still skippering in today's fleet) and Grant Pollitt on Flora-Triple M in the late 1980s.

The Australian Championship continues this Sunday when Races 6 and 7 of the 9-race championship will be sailed on Sydney Harbour. If the racing is as good as it was last weekend, spectators, on the water, or watching through live stream video coverage, will be treated to a great contest.

There is little between the top teams. Just 13s separated the first five finishers in last Sunday's Race 5 of the championship and the winner wasn't known until the final few metres of the course.

Anyone who hasn't seen the video coverage should go to www.18footers.com and click on the '18 Footers TV' link and check out the action.

The tech2 team lodged a protest against Smeg for a possible breach of the port-and-starboard rule in last Sunday's Race 5, however an independent protest committee hearing dismissed the protest.

Following that decision, Jack Macartney's tech2 presently holds the championship lead with a net total of five points, closely followed by Smeg (Michael Coxon) on six points.

The two teams are sure to continue their battle over the remaining four races of the championship, which is the final major event before the 2021 JJ Giltinan world Championship, which will be sailed on Sydney Harbour from March 6-14.

There is a tightly-packed group in a wonderful battle for overall third place. Finport Finance (Keagan York) is currently on 17 points, followed by Noakesailing (Sean Langman) on 18, Shaw & Partners Financial Services (Jim Colley) on 19 and Winning Group (John Winning Jr.) on 20 points.

Anyone who can't get onto Sydney Harbour to see the racing live, can catch the livestream video coverage from water level as well as the spectacular overhead drone images.

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