Please select your home edition
Edition
Hyde Sails 2022 One Design LEADERBOARD

18ft Skiffs: John Winning - One of the big three

by Frank Quealey 13 Jun 2021 20:02 PDT 14 June 2021
'Woody' with his son John, who now heads the family business and competes against his father in the League's fleet © Frank Quealey

There have been many champion competitors, builders, designers and administrators involved with the 129-year-old sport of 18 footers racing, but three men with the foresight, positive thinking and financial wisdom to promote the 18s to the masses, stand out as the real champions of the sport. Mark Foy, James J Giltinan and John Winning.

Mark Foy was the first. He is the man who revolutionised sailing on Sydney Harbour in the 1890s when he established a boat and action-packed type of racing which would excite spectators enough to become regular followers of the 18 footers.

James J Giltinan was the second. He was the man who agreed with local competitors that the original style boats had become outdated by the early 1930s and that there was a need for a faster, less costly boat with a smaller number of crew to sail them.

When the controlling club refused to accept the registration of the new style boats, he organised a meeting of a number of unhappy competitors and boat owners and ultimately formed the NSW 18 Footers Sailing League (now known as the Australian 18 Footers League).

Within three years of the formation of the new club Mr. Giltinan organised the first World 18 Footers Sailing Championship and was an integral part of the boost which saw the club's 1937-1938 season attendances approach the 200,000 mark, with up to seven ferries following the club's races on Sydney Harbour.

The sport maintained a high level of popularity over the next forty years, but like many high performance sports, the cost of technology and the on-going search for excellence by designers, builders and competitors took a heavy toll on the fleets around the world.

During the 1990s, even the strong Australian 18 Footers League fleet was suffering and the club had to take the action of introducing a one-design hull to try and reduce some of the cost, increase the longevity of the hull and make the boats more accessible, to more competitors, around the world.

The League's initiative was successful but it needed ongoing direction and sponsorship support from the administrators at the Australian 18 Footers League to ensure the future of the 18s.

Another Mark Foy or James J Giltinan-type individual was required to steer the class through a very difficult period.

Enter John 'Woody' Winning, the third of 'the big three', a JJ Giltinan world and Australian 18ft Skiff champion, a man with a great respect for the history of the 18 footers and the people who have given so much to the sport along the way, and manager of a very successful whitegoods family business.

Since taking over the role of President of the League in 2004, John's DNA can be found on every area of the sport, and he is responsible for its present stability and growth.

He has been a central part of the League's successful racing program for the full 17 year term of his presidency, and together with his family's initiatives, and financial support, has been a significant part of the League's success.

John and his wife Kerrie, together with the late Bob Killick, were the original trio who had the vision of presenting 18ft Skiff Racing to the world, and funded their idea. The result is that every 18ft skiff race on Sydney Harbour is now a livestream production from the race track to the world.

The Winning Group, the family business name, has also been the major financial backer for each JJ Giltinan Championship since 2007.

Former Australian 18 Footer champion and class historian, John 'Steamer' Stanley has nothing but the highest praise for the man they call 'Woody': "John Winning puts far more back into the sport than he takes out of it. He is extremely generous with his time and money, and is always prepared to help fellow sailors or anyone who needs it."

'Steamer' is also quick to add how much 'Woody' appreciates the history of the 18s: "John and I went for a sail on a replica of Aberdare, and we were both hooked on the challenge of sailing on such a boat."

"Woody had a replica built of Australia I, the 1946-1947 Australian Champion, on which his father and uncle were in the champion crew. That was the start of a rebuilding program to preserve and recreate the rich 18 footer history."

"As usual, he was prepared to back his belief with his own cash and still owns or has an interest in five or six boats in the present Historical 18s fleet."

Aside from his marvellous administration and financial support, John has been an equally incredible competitor who joined the 18 footers in 1975-76, in a skiff sponsored by Travelodge Motels, after he won the 1971-72 Australian 12ft Skiff Championship with Yandoo and the 1974-75 Inter-dominion 12ft Skiff Championship, for the Travelodge company.

In the 18s, he won the JJ Giltinan world Championship and Australian Championship in 2000 when he skippered AMP Centrepoint to victory with teammates Euan McNicol and Anthony (Jack) Young, and has won international 18ft Skiff championships in Europe, the USA and New Zealand.

His international victories in Yandoo include three European championships (2001, 2004 and 2011), the Mark Foy Trophy at Sonderborg, Denmark in 2011, the International Championship in San Francisco in 2004 and the ANZAC Regatta at Auckland in 2010.

'Woody' was also runner-up to the legendary 18 Footer champion Iain Murray in two JJ Giltinan world and three Australian 18 Footer championships, and his record would have been even greater had he not taken several years away from the 18s to concentrate on his business commitments.

With his son, John Jr. now in charge of The Winning Group business, 'Woody' has more time to concentrate on his sailing activities. One of the challenges he faces each week is the contest against John Jr. in the League's fleet.

At 68 years, 'Woody' is still very competitive in both the League's 'modern skiff' fleet on Sunday as well as the Sydney Flying Squadron's 'Historical 18s' fleet each Saturday, and is anxiously waiting for the start of the 2021-22 season in October.

The ongoing success of Australia's iconic 129-year-old sport of 18ft Skiff Racing on Sydney Harbour, owes much to the incredible action and support of John 'Woody' Winning, the Winning family and the Winning family's business.

18 footers racing is fortunate that its success and longevity, is mainly due to the foresight, positive thinking, and financial wisdom to promote the sport to the masses, by three positive-thinking men.

Related Articles

Mark Foy Trophy - Lazarus wins for Australia
Lazarus became the 2022 Mark Foy Trophy 18 footer champion The Lazarus team of Marcus Ashley-Jones, Angus Williams and Phil Marshall became the 2022 Mark Foy Trophy 18 footer champion when it defeated a 16-boat fleet on Italy's Lake Garda. Posted on 7 Aug
18ft Skiffs: Convincing the winner
Looking back at the 2002 and 2003 JJ Giltinan World Championships There were 'sail-off' races to determine the overall winner of the 1969 and 1978 JJ Giltinan World Championship regattas, but two contests held on Sydney Harbour in 2003 and 2004 produced the most amazing finales to determine the winner of each one. Posted on 31 Jul
18ft Skiff Mark Foy European Championship overall
An Australian one-two at Garda, keeping the Germans in third place It was an Australian one-two at the Mark Foy European Championship: Lazarus Capital Partners and The Rag & Famish Hotel in the first two overall positions. The best Europeans were the Germans on Black Knight, down to third place overall. Posted on 22 Jul
18ft Skiff Mark Foy European Championship day 3
Australians advance - Germans hold out The performance of Lazarus Capital Partners (Ashley-Marshallio-Williams) continues on a glide path, leading by 8 points over the Germans of Black Knight (Von Bayern-Tom and Andy Martin), the only Europeans to hold their own against the Australian team. Posted on 21 Jul
18ft Skiff Mark Foy European Championship day 2
Fleet decimated by capzises as Garda ramps up to 20 knots Sailing on Lake Garda becomes intercontinental again, at the European 18-footer "Mark Foy" regatta sees Australians join the Northern hemisphere teams. Posted on 20 Jul
18ft Skiffs: Fisher & Paykel
A successful 18 footers return for a familiar name Over the years, the Australian 18 Footers League has had a number of wonderful relationships with many of its sponsorship supporting companies and their individual owners and representatives, and the recent 2021-22 season produced the latest situation Posted on 10 Jul
Vaucluse Amateur 12ft SC - Pathway to 18 footers
It's a link which goes back almost 100 years When nine times JJ Giltinan world 18 footer champion Seve Jarvin recently presented the prizes to the junior sailors of the Vaucluse Amateur 12 Foot Sailing Club, he was not only returning to his former club. Posted on 3 Jul
18ft Skiffs: John 'Woody' Winning, 70 years young
The legendary 18ft Skiff champion celebrates his birthday this week Australian 18 Footers League President and legendary 18ft Skiff champion John 'Woody' Winning celebrates his 70th birthday this week but you would never know it as the dynamic 'Woody' prepares for his 38th season of 18 footers racing on Sydney Harbour Posted on 19 Jun
18ft Skiff Mark Foy Trophy 2022 set for Lake Garda
Named after the 'father' of the class on Sydney Harbour back in 1892 When the 2022 Mark Foy Trophy international 18 footer skiff regatta is contested on Lake Garda, Italy from July 18-20, it will become the 14th regatta of the championship series to honour the name of the man who was the 'father' of the class. Posted on 15 Jun
Jamie Mears, 18 footers lose a champion
Following a tragic mountain bike accident in Italy last month The 18 footers class lost one of its champion sailors last month when UK and European champion Jamie Mears lost his life following a tragic mountain bike accident in Italy. Posted on 5 Jun
C-Tech 2021 (Spars-QFX Racer) 728x90 BOTTOMZhik 2022 Choice of Champions FOOTERCyclops 2022 May FOOTER