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The Maiden. A Triple. Four Bullets. (...and loads of names)

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 11 Mar 00:00 PDT
Blue Ribband of another kind ....but still marks who the Champ is! 2024 JJ Giltinan Winner, Yandoo, Micah Lane, Jasper 'Fang' Warren, and Lewis Brake © Australian 18 Footers League

The JJ Giltinan Championship is often referred to as the unofficial World Championship of the mighty and majestic 18-Footers. I kind of like our Managing Editor's name for them: The Kings of the Lowriding World. Yes. That most definitely suits.

Co-owner of Flagstaff Marine, Micah Lane, helmed Yandoo, which was crewed by Jasper 'Fang' Warren, and Lewis Brake, to the Maiden win of this most prestigious of titles for both boat and crew alike. Indeed Yandoo herself just claimed the triple of State, National, and JJs.

Lane, Warren and Brake, who were on the trap in that order moving for'ard, set up their account early, with the first of their bullets in the opening of the nine-race series. They closed it out in just the same fashion, too!

I said to Lane afterwards that it looked like they went out and did a Wearny (Matt Wearn OAM), referring to that star's famous effort of electing to not just get around without a spill, but actually choosing to take it out altogether whilst you're there. In reply, Lane commented, "I felt like on the penultimate day we were all tensed up, and couldn't get it going. Whereas on Sunday, we were not tense at all, and when you're in a different mindset, everything becomes easy."

So the trio's win puts them into a very special club that contains names like Bob Miller and Iain Murray AM, amongst an absolute cavalcade of legends, including Ken Beashel who handed them their Blue Ribband to hoist aloft after their win.

Yet it was not all about the past, either. For out on the water you did not have to go too far to find previous winners in the likes of Seve Jarvin and Sam Newton, and of course they have a few other accolades to put down on the CV, as well. For the final race they secured a new driver, in the form of young Joel Beashel, as John 'Herman' Winning elected to nurse a broken toe and not sail Andoo that day.

Immediately, you have to acknowledge the efforts of John 'Woody' Winning to get Yandoo all set to rumble like she has all Summer. No doubt he was as animated as his right hip replacement would allow him when the Yandoo came home under kite to secure the 2024 JJ Giltinan Championship. Quietly spoken, and steely minded, you can bet he will be on the water again ASAP to really highlight that age is no barrier.

Taking the final result into the final race were Rag & Famish Hotel, who are a long-term supporter of the class. Skippered by Harry Price, with Moth World Champ Josh McKnight, and also skiff specialist Finn Rodowicz on board, they had to carry a seventh and drop an eighth, so their three bullets had to work too hard to get them the grand prize. Still, it was a great thing to watch unfold over the week.

Interestingly, The Rag elected to go with the small rig, when Sydney Harbour was offering up a lot of 6-8 knot Nor'easter, and occasionally it made 12, especially towards the end of the three laps. The covering tacks started onshore, with Yandoo choosing the same setup. They kept this up for the first work, and for most of the second, but it was around a three-minute gap by the third trip to windward, so Yandoo effectively did their own thing.

It sounds like Warren was chief wind whisperer, and you have to say they sat in the better puffs for the bulk of the race. Apart from a couple of bear aways where it got a bit nosy, Yandoo looked to be in fine fettle. Regarding those roundings of the top mark, Lane said, "Had it have been somewhat breezier we would have gone into it more prepared."

Reflecting on four from nine, amongst other things, the 43-year-old Lane stated, "It is a great team that I was fortunate enough to get the guest gig with Yandoo. They don't make a lot of mistakes. It was my Maiden win after many an attempt over the years, but it is pretty special for all of us, who may have been really close before this year, but never gone the whole way."

"Woody was a big supporter all week, and we know how happy he is for us. He might be hobbling around a little bit at the moment, and I think I will be just the same this week as I recover. Give me three or four days and I'll be able to walk properly again." Lane credits a lot of yoga with his ability to move about the boat and recover (mostly) quite swiftly.

"It is time to hand the tiller back to Woody to get set for Lake Garda, but I don't think I'm quite ready to retire my sailing boots just yet. If his hip is not up to scratch by then, I'll certainly be ready to drive again."

Also part of the shore support and advisory committee was none other than four-time JJ Giltinan winner, and fellow Flagstaff Marine crewmember, Michael Coxon. "He's been my full supporter and land coach all week. Actually, he's been incredible", said Lane.

Winning the JJs has reinvigorated Lane's enjoyment of sailing, "Yes, and it is a very proud moment in my life. To be on that Honour Board of winners, with some very great sailors, it's just phenomenal. It's a big, big day."

During our phone call on the day, Coxon was clearly optimistic, but also very much with a weather eye on The Rag, who were just two points astern going into the final race. Watching it himself via the Livestream (BTW good job there team), Coxon commented, "I feel very, very happy for him and the team, obviously. They've certainly been super consistent, which has got them to where they are. I don't think it comes as any surprise and I know Micah is thrilled to find himself in this position. He's taken to the pressure really well."

Always the card, Coxon added, "I'm slimming down if they need anyone, you know."

"The comeback after the capsize (R2) and secure a good third, and the worst result carried is a fourth place, kind of says a lot about the way they went about it. As too being 14th at the bottom mark in Race Seven, then in fifth place at the next mark and then ultimately to finish in second."

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's websites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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