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Whispering Jack

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 22 Mar 02:00 PDT
Smeg chases the leader during race 3 of the 18ft Skiff Australian Championship © Frank Quealey

Unabashedly, this title does wholeheartedly refer to the Aussie singing icon, John Farnham. Not that our subject does in any way whatsoever warble in the same category. Yet just like the 'Whispering Jack' he does however have an ultra enigmatic smile and demeanour, along with that boy-next-door kind of look, as well as a penchant for retirements and comeback tours.

As for the latter, well it is kind of handy he does, for he, along with Ricky Bridge and Trent Barnabas, recently won the very prestigious J.J. Giltinan trophy in the exciting and legendary 18s. Accordingly, that would make him not the one and only Michael Coxon, for there is also his uncle by the same name. So it's not that the other isn't, but this Michael Coxon is very much unmissable, charming and dashing, and quite the raconteur. Knew there was a reason I liked him so much...

The Family

Coxon's father Richard was an Olympian in the Star, his aunt Lyndal is a World Champion in the Laser, and his uncle can gather a few titles together in 18s, Etchells, and offshore events, with his late Grandfather Jim being the nexus point. So it all begs the question, will the dynasty continue?

"My wife Peg and I have Billie and Percy, so no pressure, but it could happen," said Coxon. I remain hopeful and optimistic, but may have put Billie off a bit after a trip on a paddleboard when she was very young, so I've been a bit cautious with Percy as a result. So we'll see."

"We have just bought a little Adams 24 to get us all out on Pittwater and to show them all the boating life. We chose her because she's called Charmaine, which is my wife's first name, but also because of the electric head, TV on the bulkhead, and now with help from Alby Pratt at North Sails, she even has a furling headsail."

As for the racing and family, Coxon said, "My dad still loves getting there to Bradleys Head, or out on the spectator ferry, still telling me where I went wrong... He has a trouble holding back in that regard, but it is wonderful that he's still so passionate and just loves it all."

Is winning the JJs a good way to get out of the 18s? "Well I've been at it a long time since the last one. Lots of close seconds, six times I think, and then twice in third place. I missed 2018 and 2020, did a bit of Etchells, but the 18s drew me back. Peg loves the whole scene from the boat park to the spectator ferry. It is very much a family community, and also the kids can identify me out there, as opposed to a white dot."

"There is certainly an attraction on many levels. It was Peg who gave me the nod on the 'Dad bod' taking hold. The boats cost you very little really, with the club and the sponsors footing the main bill, and we get to tear around the Harbour against some of the best in the world. Over the years you have had sailors like Chris Nicholson, Adam Beashel, Sam Newton, and Seve Jarvin. Sure it was disappointing not to have the internationals this year. We missed the Kiwis, Brits, Danes, and Americans, but the title is amazing, and to get your name on it is a big thing, no matter what."

Coxon has done that four times now, and Barnabas has racked up six, which reminds one of another legend, Iain Murray AM.

'The old boys' (as they got tagged) certainly had motivation, despite getting a bit slower overall. "The young ones back up easier than us. Trent did not of tech2 this season, and some of the commentators reflected that they might do better now that they had more youth on board. His dad Trevor told me that Trent used this to get fully inspired. Actually, Trent's own boys are doing well. His son Zach was on the bow on Vintech for the regatta. I am just waiting for the day when the three generations get on board and have a crack at it."

Of course there is also Sean Langman and John Winning Sr to immediately consider. "Just how they are still going is amazing. When the regatta finished I noticed how sore the ankles, knees, shoulders and elbows all were. I felt great during the week. Downing 1200mg of Ibuprofen a day may have disguised a things a bit. As I sit here I am battling to move and feeling like an old boy once again."

Let's go racing!

As for the regatta, Smeg won with a race to spare. Three bullets, three seconds, and a sixth, dropping the ninth for the last race is testament to a level of consistency. "The first race was good, the second interesting. We had great people like Trevor and Baz around who mentored us and kept us on the right track. After that we started better - cleaner and faster, to turn it around and show them," said Coxon.

Two bullets eschewed, and they had the lead, trying to be consistent, minimise the risks, and capitalise when they could. "Each day someone else dropped out of contention. Towards the end, a super bumping Nor'easter offered us plenty, so a second place there sealed the deal."

"Watch this space in terms of going again. The club is getting a lot of interest from young teams, which is wonderful. There could be two new youth crews - Langman is sponsoring another one - so we need to make a call soon, as the club needs to allocate boats. Our commitment is up there. Ricky and Trent are doing the 16s at Gosford over Easter, so the whole family has to be approving of it, and you will need a lot of brownie points."

Painkillers and stupidity may see the same outfit show up again. "You're only young once, so it is worth having crack when you can. We thoroughly enjoyed it all this time."

What else do you do?

As for his day job, well Coxon is part of the crew at Flagstaff Marine. On May 8th, the Beneteau Pittwater Regatta will be staged once more, after a hiatus for all the things that made 2020 so famous. 'Sail the boats we sell' is part of the mantra at Flagstaff, and these client regattas are a great way to close the loop on that.

Coxon lives nearby to the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club that will host Flagstaff Marine's 2021 Beneteau Pittwater Regatta, and he loves being involved and making it a positive event for all. "It is a great location, and well, yes, I don't mind getting the mic at the end of the day, either. I have been known to hog it after a couple of libations. Still, everyone loves the breakfast, the sail, the dancing afterwards, and of course there are just so many prizes and gifts from terrific sponsors."

"It is really nice to get out there with our owners. You spend all year long selling boats, so to race the people who bought boats or helped with spare parts and things is just wonderful. We have found homes for a lot of new and second hand boats over summer, so I'm thinking we'll see a bumper field," Coxon said in closing.

This week sees the RPAYC becoming home to Australia's first Beneteau Figaro 3. An expat Frenchman has bought her. Seems like a lifetime ago when I had the pleasure of exploring that craft's huge fun quotient, so with a burgeoning shorthanded scene occurring at the club, I reckon this one could be polling well very, very soon.

Thank you

In wrapping up, many, many thanks to all of you, for in last month you have helped Sail-World AUS reach 104,823 Unique Visitors, as calculated by the unimpeachable, third party source, Google Analytics. Not only is that very much appreciated, it definitely provides inspiration to deliver the best content possible.

Our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine added, "Yes, thank you very much. We had four regions of Sail-World's seven sites around the globe all over 100,000 Unique Visitors for the month. Year on year we are up 183%, which is just wonderful."

"YachtsandYachting.com and SailWorldCruising.com continue their strong and reliable performances, but I have to also mention the other members of the group, MarineBusinessWorld.com, FishingBoating.World and Powerboat.World, which are all marching on magnificently. We never forget that this is entirely due to you, our readers, who remain our focus at all times."

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the group's websites for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, many thanks for making Sail-World your go-to choice. We're always here to keep pumping out the news. Stay safe, and have the happiest time possible depending on your level of restrictions,

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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