Please select your home edition
Cyclops 2022 May LEADERBOARD

18ft Skiffs: John 'Woody' Winning, Iron Man

by Frank Quealey 29 Sep 2021 18:11 PDT
Travelodge at the 1977 worlds in Auckland © Archive

Few knowledgeable sailing individuals would question the opinion that modern or 1950s 18 footers are one of the world's most demanding boats to race. So how does a 69-year-old manage to skipper one of the modern 18s each Sunday for 36 seasons and a Historical 18, each Saturday, since 2001?

Just ask John 'Woody' Winning and he may be able to explain, but you had better not take too much of his time as he is presently preparing a brand new skiff for the coming modern 2021-22 season at the Australian 18 Footers League, of which he has been the President since 2003.

And if you think that 'Woody' might just be an older man out there to make-up-the-numbers, then forget about it. The Yandoo team of John Winning, Mike Kennedy and Fang Warren were on the pace throughout the entire 2020-21 season. The team even finished second behind championship-winner, Smeg, in race four of the 2021 JJ Giltinan Championship, and were placed 9th in the regatta.

Earlier in the season the Yandoo team also took out the club's seven-race 2020 Spring Championship on Sydney Harbour, finished fifth in the NSW and seventh in the Australian Championships, and won the club's Season Point Score which was based on results from every club race during the season.

It's not surprising that 'Woody' has a great love for sailing. He was born into an extremely successful sailing family which already had a record which included an Australian championship win in the 18s.

His father, also named John, and his uncle Dick Winning were a champion 12ft skiff team during the 1940s and, in 1947, were selected by Queensland skipper Bill Stanley to join his crew of Australia for the 1946-47 Australian Championship, which the team won.

John began his career in a Sabot at the Vaucluse Amateur 12ft Sailing Club, then moved on to the VJ, Flying Eleven, Flying Ant and VS before going into the 12ft Skiffs, where he won the 1971-72 Australian Championship and the 1974-75 Inter-dominion Championship. The latter victory was in a skiff sponsored by the Travelodge motel company.

Alan Greenway, who was the Chairman and Managing Director of Travelodge, was building an international motel chain at the time and saw the 18ft Skiffs as an excellent vehicle to promote his business. He had already won the Giltinan world Championship with Bob Holmes as skipper and saw John Winning as the ideal replacement when Holmes retired.

John's long career in the 18s began in the 1975-76 season, but it was split into two specific periods. The first part of his career was successful, but clashed head-on with the career of Iain Murray and the incredibly successful Color 7 team.

Greenway continued to sponsor John under the Travelodge name in 1976-77 then switched to Pacific Harbour Fiji, which was the name of a new resort that the company had established as part of its international expansion.

Under the Pacific Harbour sponsor name, John was runner-up to the Color 7 team at the 1979-80 Australian Championship, in Perth, and the 1980 Giltinan world Championship, in Auckland. It was the beginning of a very unlucky run.

Over the next two seasons, 1980-81 and 1981-82, John had to be content with being runner-up to the Color 7 team. Unsponsored, he finished behind Color 7 in both the Australian and Giltinan world championships in Yandoo, then runner-up behind the same team at the 1981-82 nationals in the Patrick Corrigan-sponsored, Mitchell Cotts.

Stage one of John's 18 footer career came to an end after the 1985-86 season when he took time off to look after his family business commitments as well as a young family; wife Kerrie, and new-born children John Jr and Jamie.

As the children became involved in their own sport (John was sailing a 29er) and Jamie (equestrian), John got the bug to come back into the 18s in 1995 and finally got the reward he so richly deserved after what had transpired back in the three seasons between 1979 and 1982.

With sponsorship from AMP Centrepoint, 'Woody', Euan McNicol and Anthony (Jack) Young, in 2000, won the 'triple crown' JJ Giltinan world Championship, the Australian Championship and the NSW Championship.

Sailing self-sponsored Yandoo skiffs since 2003-04, John was a regular top five-top ten finisher in the annual Giltinan world championship regattas and has always been in the top half of the fleet.

With a brand new Yandoo skiff ready for the 2021-22 season and the same skilful team of Mike and Fang, 'Woody' is as enthusiastic as ever to get back on the water. "This is shaping up as a great season for the club. There are new boats and new teams ready for the challenge and our team is confident that we can be competitive at every level."

"Last season we won the coveted Season Point Score, which is contested over every race. It clearly shows how competitive we are in all conditions and we are aiming to go back-to-back and win it once again in 21-22."

The Australian 18 Footer League's new season is set to begin on Sunday, October 10.

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 BOTTOMMcConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 2