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Young sailing talent on display in the 18ft Skiffs

by Frank Quealey 23 Jan 21:27 PST 19 & 21 January 2024

Last Friday evening, and again on Sunday, we saw some of the best young talent on display as they went head-to-head with the best, most experienced 18ft skiff teams on Sydney Harbour in the Balmain Cup Sprint Series and Race 2 of the Australian Championship.

On Friday evening, at the Balmain Cup Super-Skiff Series, young Joel Beashel grabbed the tiller of the current JJ Giltinan World champion Andoo with both hands and took on his father Adam, who had control of the NSW champion Yandoo.

Joel came away a one-point runner-up to his father on the day but, in the three sprint races, and showed the type of skill required to emulate the deeds of his grand-father Ken Beashel, who won two World 18 footer championships in the 1960s.

Third placed, behind Adam and Joel Beashel, was another young talent destined for bigger things in the 18s, 16-year-old Jacob Marks, who is having his rookie season in the 18s as skipper of The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines.

Jacob was 'recruited' into the class by former skipper of The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines, Alex Marinelli who moved himself onto the sheet for the season to give young Marks an opportunity to show his talent.

After a promising start to the season in the Spring Championship, which The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines won narrowly from Yandoo, the team has gone through a rough patch with some below average performances throughout the NSW Championship.

Friday's third placing behind Yandoo and Andoo was a welcome return to form which The Oak team iced on Sunday when Marks, Marinelli and Matt Doyle finished a very creditable third behind Yandoo and Rag & Famish Hotel in Race 2 of the Australian Championship.

Alex Marinelli, who is responsible for putting this team together, isn't concerned about the team's drop in form now that they are back on the pace.

"We are happy to build some momentum again after a tough few weeks of breakages and capsizing. The team is getting more and more gelled as the weeks go by and Jacob is building into his role as skipper very nicely."

"A few hiccups with a rookie skipper and a new combination can be expected so we are happy to generate a little bit of confidence again."

"We are slowly getting the rigs faster and faster and it is showing. Our main goal is to keep things consistent week by week and away from running hot and cold as we have in the past few weeks."

"We were pretty happy with our result in the Super Sprint Series given the consistency required to perform in three consecutive sprint races."

"It's a pretty good sign for the future of the class that two of the top three skippers in a "legends" fleet are still in high school! Hopefully we, as a team, can keep building strong and spend more time up in the front pack of the fleet."

Another young team to show its best form of the season last weekend was The Kitchen Maker.

Skipper Lachlan Steel, Jerome Watts and Ben Kirkby have been sailing consistently this season and Sunday's fifth place (and winner on handicap) in Race 2 of the Australian Championship was a good reward for the team.

Lachlan, Jerome and Ben are all former 16 footer sailors from the St. George Sailing Club, who are having their first season as a team in the 18s, although Lachlan and Jerome joined the class during the 2020-21 season.

According to Lachlan, "Growing up together sailing 16ft. skiffs at St George, we always dreamed about one day sailing an 18 footer together. As teenagers we would watch the old Grand Prix videos in admiration of the class and its sailors. Now, through the support of the League and our sponsor Darren this dream has become a reality."

Lachlan has conducted trouble-free campaigns over the three seasons he has skippered in the 18s and his team deserves any success that comes their way.

Speaking after Sunday's race, Lachlan says, "We're encouraged by the result and now look forward to carrying that effort into the JJs against a red-hot international fleet."

The young, rising stars will get another opportunity on Sunday when they again take on the 'big teams' in Race 3 of the Australian Championship on Sydney Harbour.

Race 3 of the Australian Championship will be sailed next Sunday (28 January). The League's spectator ferry will follow the action, leaving Double Bay Public Wharf at 2pm. Tickets are available

If you can't get out onto Sydney Harbour, you can still watch the SailMedia LIVEstream camera cat coverage here:

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