The inaugural 18ft Skiff Mark Foy World Championship will commence on the crystal clear waters in Fiji in just a few short days.
Known to be amongst the fastest mono-hull yachts in the world, the three and four man boats always produce spectacular rides and equally spectacular crashes.
Over 100 chaotic sailors will descend on the island of Denarau and will let their presence be known. The 18ft Skiff sailors are set to take over the land and the water in what will be an explosive event.
While the Mark Foy World Championship is a stand-alone event, it will also make up leg three of the inaugural 18 Foot Skiff South Pacific Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown is competed for over three regattas; the JJ’s Giltinan in Sydney, the ANZAC Championship in Auckland, and now the Mark Foy World Championship in Denarau, Fiji.
New Zealand’s Peter Mander and crew in the five manner Intrigue won the last JJ Giltinan Trophy sailed in Fiji in 1952 in Lauthala Bay, adjacent to the flying boat base. With a well timed gybe on the last leg of the last race, Mander won the title and along with crew Jack Crop, went on to be New Zealand’s first sailing Gold medalist in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.
Peter Mander became a twice winner of the JJ Giltinan Trophy – defending in 1954 in Auckland.
Leading the charge for the silverware is Yamaha from New Zealand, skippered by Dave McDiarmid with Matty Stevens and Brad Collins pulling ropes up front.
Noakes Youth from the Australian 18 Footers heads up the Handicap honours, a great achievement for these youngsters.
The fleet of 18ft Skiffs will be rigging and launching from the water’s edge off Denarau Golf Course, racing right in front of the beaches.
Windward/Leeward races as well as a long downwind speed challenge to Beachcomber Island is on the cards, but it’s the warm water and consistent sea breeze which is getting the fleet excited.
Royal Akarana Yacht Club committee member and Fiji Fizz Festival organiser Stephen Jones said today “This is shaping up to be a superb regatta. A big line-up of world class sailors on “the 18s” in a spectacular location like Denarau has really got everyone fizzing big time. With a World Championship bragging rights on the line for the best performance over multiple regattas, this will be hard fought”.
Host Yacht Club Managing Director, Nigel Skeggs is looking forward to the influx. “The 18s haven’t been in Fiji since 1952. We intend to make sure that this is a regatta to remember and look forward to hard racing and a full social calendar. The Rhum-Ba has been stocked!”.
Mander has left some big footprints in the sands of Fiji for the Kiwis to follow almost 65 years later.
by Suellen Hurling, RAYC Media and S-W