Old face, new challenge
One of Australia’s best known 18ft Skiff sailors from the 1990s, David Witt, has made a comeback in the class to represent Queensland with a serious JJ Giltinan Championship campaign. Witt was not only one of the best skippers in the 18s, but UK’s Tim Robinson had 'Witty' on board when he won the 1999 Giltinan in Rockport.
In this campaign, Witt is joined by long time crew and champion sailors Alan Mansfield and Barry Flannigan. The trio will be one of the heaviest (if not the heaviest) teams in the regatta and will certainly be one to watch in strong wind conditions.
Alan Mansfield said that recently, during one of their training sessions on Waterloo Bay, they completed the day without a single capsize in around 35-knots.
Their skiff is a former Gotta Love It 7 and Smeg hull and they have added two brand new rigs on the skiff, which will race as Queenslander 1 (Q1).
David Witt came originally into the 18s (from the Cherubs) as a 17-year-old and quickly established himself as a very fine, talented sailor and quite a character off the water. His transition from the Cherubs was so successful that it quickly led to an influx of other Cherub sailors into the Australian 18 Footers League fleet. Two of Witt’s former team mates, who followed him from the Cherubs will be competing against him in this regatta. They are Andrew ‘Noddy’ Hay (Yandoo) and Dave ‘Gil’ Ewings (Smeg).
Witt also sailed successfully with Grand Prix Sailing in the 1990s and represented sponsors Ericsson, AAMI, Nokia and Pace Express.
Over the past 18 years, he has been involved in major sailing projects all over the world.
Aside from his 18ft Skiff achievements, he has competed in 16 Sydney-Hobart races (all as skipper or primary helmsman), Whitbread Round the World Race, Maxi World championships, Fastnet races, Melbourne-Osaka (two-handed) and Round Europe race. His roles often included that of project manager (as well as primary helmsman/skipper) on boats from 30ft to 100ft, and managing budgets from tens of thousands up to multi-million dollar projects.
The team are not only looking for success in the 2011 Giltinan, but see their challenge as a boost to re-establishing an 18ft Skiff fleet in Queensland.
“We want to help develop the talents of young Queensland sailors and believe our knowledge and experience will help these young sailors as well as lift the Queensland profile in sailing”, Witt said.
See this latest video from the 18ft skiffs: